This guest post is by Michael and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .
Pre-Columbian Native American Indians needed nothing other than what Mother Nature provided to ensure their own survival. Metal was a game changer. It could be shaped to make the tools needed to make the tools needed to create firearms and knives. Although metal is a superior material for making tools and weapons, stone was the hardest material at hand, hence the term Stone Age.
Everything required for living was provided to them by nature. Feathers for fletching, plants/herbs for medicine/food, and leather for clothing and home construction. They needed little to thrive, so why do we need so much?
Meat and fish preserved for the Winter were dried by the sun or smoked. Pemmican was made from rendered fat, berries and pounded dried meat. It would keep for a very long time. Almost everything on an animal was used including eating the eyeballs. The brain was used to tan hides, the hooves were used as glue and the innards were used as food or water pouches.
Now don’t get squeamish, guts are used for a lot of stuff – Europeans used sheep guts for instrument strings, catgut was used for sutures and sausages were stuffed in, yep, you guessed it. Bones were used for tools or were broken apart to get at the fat rich marrow. Antlers were used to make stone arrowheads. Animal teeth were used for decoration on person and clothing. Those double rowed chestplates you see on Native warriors was actually made from bird bones. Beads were made from clam or mussel shells.
On red meat is tough, white coverings called sinew. Modern butchers call this ‘silver skin’ and it’s removed by the butcher. Natives would dip stone arrowheads into the glue made from animal hooves, attach it to the spear/arrow and wrap sinew in the glue to give it strength. Bowstrings were made from the sinew along the backbone of large animals.
Natives also had a thriving agricultural enterprise. When Europeans first came to this continent they would find seed caches and usually took them to eat. When the Natives finally had enough of this from these wretched white people, they showed how to make a depression in a small dirt hill, place two or three small fish and drop in corn, bean and squash seeds. This was called the Three Sisters. The corn provided a trellis for the beans, the squash shaded the ground to keep it moist and to keep weeds away. Corn takes nitrogen from the soil, beans put it back.
Now to my point, there is no reason why we can’t take lessons from the Natives. Our superior metal tools would greatly enhance Native ingenuity. We can use machinery or horses to pull plows for our own agriculture and use Native knowledge to grow the Three Sisters. Use the animals raised or harvested to the full advantage of our own survival just as they did.
Natives lived in groups or bands to help one another. Everything was shared to ensure the survival of them all and this is one aspect we all are looking into. One family can get by if properly supplied with a cache of food and weapons, and hunkered down in a bunker. A small group of like-minded families can thrive quite well working together to provide mutual sustenance and protection.
In the 60’s we started hearing the term ‘commune’. Back then it was a group of pot smoking hippies that were hell-bent on getting high and letting the Soviets destroy America. Wisely set up and governed, a commune of families could provide the level of comfort and protection required when SHTF. Folks have been doing that for thousands of years, so there is absolutely no reason to discard a proven system. As a matter of fact, there are a number of communes that have been in existence for decades. Check this website (http://directory.ic.org/records/communes.php), it’s a real eye opener. There are a bunch of communes, both national and international, that are forming as I write.
I’ve seen entries from other folks pointing out we need to get to know our neighbors. A good sentiment, but what do you and that neighbor have or do that would compliment each others own survival? Too old to hunt? Be a gardener and trade your Three Sisters for meat the neighbor hunts. Find other groups or communes and set up trade. Years ago I found a cache of what I think are stone blanks (personal opinion). There were about a dozen spearhead sized stones that could be transported for trade. They were partially knapped and could be used to make knives scrappers or weapon points.
Natives actually had an extensive trade system set up before the whites arrived and that extended right up to the end of the Civil War. The Blackfoot Sioux controlled trade on the upper Mississippi and got ‘rich’ skimming from the top of anything passing through their country. That was after the whites had pressured the Eastern Indians West and pushed the Blackfoot onto the prairie. By that time the horses the Spanish had introduced to this continent had become the most valuable thing to own.
We have our own valuables we put by and sometimes we get more than what we need simply because we don’t really know what we’ll need when the time comes. Set up trade and thrive!!
This contest will end on October 10 2012 – prizes include:
- First Place : $100 Cash.
- Second Place : $50 Cash.
- Third Place : $25 Cash.
Contest ends on October 10 2012.