Thursday, July 25, 2013

California Native American Fishing

California Native American Fishing



Their weir-traps were put in the rapids, and constructed by building wing dams diagonally down to the middle of the stream until the two ends came near together, and in this narrow outlet was placed a sort of wicker basket trap, made of long willow sprouts loosely woven together and closed at the pointed lower end, which was elevated above the surface of the water below the dam. The fish, in going down stream, ran into this trap, and soon found themselves at the lower end and out of the water.

The soap-root was used at a low stage of water, late in summer. They dug several bushels of the bulbous roots and went to a suitable place on the bank, where the roots were pounded into a pulp, and mixed with soil and water. This mixture, by the handful, was then rubbed on rocks out in the stream, which roiled the water and also made it somewhat foamy. The fish were soon affected by it, became stupid with a sort of strangulation, and rose to the surface, where they were easily captured by the Indians with their scoop baskets. In a stream the size of the South Fork of the Merced River at Wawona, by this one operation every fish in it for a distance of three miles would be taken in a few hours.
The fish were generally cooked by roasting on hot coals from burned oak wood or bark.