Skip to main content

The most important berry crop for most of the Plateau people of Washington, Idaho, and Montana was the huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum), a type of blueberry. These berries were collected in August and September for winter consumption. Huckleberries plants are small to medium sized shrubs which are found in the moister mountain areas, particularly in areas with acidic soils and areas which have been burned by forest fires. The Indians of the Plateau traveled to huckleberry sites where they gathered and dried the delicious, sweet berries.

T4742

Shown above is a basket used for gathering berries.

Women usually did the gathering of the huckleberries and could gather one or two basketfuls in a day’s work (about 2-4 liters). Huckleberries were often dried over a slow fire that had been set in a rotten log. This drying created a raisin-like product that could be kept indefinitely. They were also sun dried.  The dried huckleberries were used in the winter. The dried berries were prepared for eating by boiling, either by themselves or with roots.

T4753

Shown above is an old photograph of an elder drying the huckleberries in the traditional way.

Huckleberries were also used for medicine. A tea made from the roots and stems of the plant were used for heart trouble, arthritis, and rheumatism.

Huckleberry gathering was also a social event. During gathering time, people from many different bands would come together and often engage in horse racing, singing, dancing, and spiritual ceremonies.  

Indians carefully managed the huckleberry ecology. Using fire to manage the land, the Indians were master burn ecologists who knew which part of the forest to burn for an abundant return of the huckleberries. Using planned fires, they would establish huckleberry fields.

The importance of huckleberries to the Indian nations of the Plateau region can be seen in the sacred rituals which were traditionally associated with the gathering of this berry. This included a first fruits ceremony in which the first berries collected were blessed and sung over.

Cross Posted from
 photo NANfooterTEXT_zpsc9f6c5d5.jpg

Originally posted to Native American Netroots on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 08:43 AM PDT.

Also republished by Invisible People.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site