Archive for the ‘native americans’ Category

Below are some random notes I took at the survival school the other weekend.  It is not all of the notes, the ones that should be their own subject/post I have not included.  Think of it as random bits of wisdom.

–The animals were skittish for it was a full moon.  The bunny rabbits were not on the move.  There was also a strong cold wind blowing away the tracks of the few brave ones.

–When researching how to survive in the wild it is best to read materials written before 1970.

–Mice leave rice-sized poop.  Rats leave bigger poop.  Fear the smaller poop.

–A cotton-ball soaked in vaseline makes for a hell of a good starter fireball.

–When tracking, keep an eye for things out-of-place.  Remember the print may not be inconsistent.  The “fun part” of tracking is figuring out the story.  Watch for patterns.

–85% of human are right-handed.  The tend to drift right when not paying attention.  This is not a metaphor for the tea party but maybe it should be.  The average american walks 2 miles per hour.  One might be surprised how much they meander right in just one hour of aimless walking.

–When tracking someone who wants to survive, do not discount what would be the easiest path.

–If you stumble across someone’s marijuana field you might get sucker-punched.

–What defines survival?  If one sees famine and death outside of one’s window does that mean survival?   What crazy fool would roll down the window when death is outside?  If one does not look outside of the blinds how can you be sure it is not too late?

–Native Americans in the SouthWest generally used traps and not snares.  There is probably a reason why.  Deadfalls work best here.  One can only generally use snares in the forest where there are plenty of branches and shade.   If desperate, birds over any other animal, is your best chance to catch an AZ animal by snare.

–A Rolling snare jerks the animal off the ground.  Setting one ain’t easy when one is using cacti as one’s trigger.

–The fewer triggers the better.

–Avoid fleas.  Especially when dissecting an animal for dinner.  Fleas suck.

–When learning, focus on a digestible area.  Tony recommends 20 acres.  How big is 20 acres?  I think my yard is .25 acres.  Figure out 20 acres and know that 20 acres well. Use that as lesson one.  Otherwise learning every plant or every technique for all the variations one finds in a desert as big as the Sonoran is simply too overwhelming.  Know the plants in your 20 acres.  Know what plants grow.   Know where the afternoon shade is.  Know the morning shade.  Know the rhythms.  Know what the animals eat in your area.  Know what the smell of rain is like.  Think locally, act micro-locally.

–Best Glide is the best brand for a compact fishing survival kit.

— For catching fish a cast net is the “way to go.”  It is currently illegal to fish with a cast net.  Cast netting would give a “bathtub full of fish in 15 minutes.”  Sidenote:  It is also illegal to hunt with a salt lick.  Both of these methods are illegal for a reason.  Once we no longer care about the rules, hunt in whatever manner was previously illegal.  They were originally made illegal because it made things just too easy.

–A Dip net is an easy way to gather minnows.   Minnows will probably easier to gather than one big fish.  Multiple strips of protein might be better than the fish that got away.

–Don’t count your fish before they are in the skillet.

–“Primitive fishing is like primitive hunting.  It is a numbers game.” 20 baited traps = 1 edible animal, if you are lucky.

–Before the bow and arrow was the atlatl.  It was the weapon of choice for big game.  Get all Aztec up on it.  It is a difficult weapon to get accurate with but great for sheer ease and power.

–When shooting bows and arrows switch arms from time to time to avoid arthritis.

–Arrows over 33 inches do not need feathers.

–Michelle’s craft store is a great place to get marbles for sling shots and craft wire (which is already made camouflage) for cheap.  Buy galvanized wire, at least 20 gauge.  A 550 cord is best for snares for Coyotes.

— When using a knife think safety first-ish.  Think through if you were to slip while carving, where would the knife go?

— Rabbitt’s eat their own poop.  The first pass is brown, the second is white.  If you see rabbit poop where there are brown and white droplets beside each other than the rabbit goes one way at sunrise and another at sunset.  Try to ignore that you are hunting an animal that eats its own poop.

–Hunting rabbits is not easy.

–Cats have  asymmetrcal toes.

–As a general rule, if the hind foot falls in front of the front foot then that means speed.

–Don’t put anything camouflage in your survival kit, because you might lose it.

–Surviving is not living.  When people say “The Navajo survived in the Southwest for centuries”, they did not “survive” they lived.

–Spam is the culinary equivalent of the cockroach.

–In Hunter/gatherer society’s people did not live alone.  The lived in groups of 15 to 30 people.  To survive one needs more than oneself.

–Diesel is a better shelf life than gasoline.

–To use bleach to preserve water, pick ordinary bleach not one that is “scented” or has “lemon.”  6 drops of bleach per quart.  There are 4 quarts per gallon. 

–The SODIS method for purifying water is the easiest.  It is used around the world in developing nations.  It involves putting water in a clear plastic bottle and setting that in the sun for 6 hours.  –Anybody who has ever been in a natural catastrophe and had to struggle to survive has said “Man, we did not have enough water.”

Thermal Cooker’s are a good way to cook with minimal energy. They are big in Japan.

Flash cooking is where you put your meat on a stick, put a trash can or other large metal can around it and put coals of the outside of the can.  So far I have only found one internet site that describes it.

–If you put insects in a stew you won’t even know they are there.

–A good reachable goal when learning this stuff is to learn 12 edible plants in your area.  Trying to learn every plant can be overwhelming.

–When learning edible plants, also take time to learn poisonous plants as they kill.  You want to know what to avoid.   Hemlock kills!  I think I also might have it in my yard. http://cal.vet.upenn.edu/projects/poison/plants/pppoiso.htm

–Pine Nuts are ripe in Sept.

Permaculture would be a good thing to research. –Mustard plant is easy to find in Phoenix in spring.

–Pine sap has antibacterial features.  Olive oil will help make it less sticky.

–A good book to read is “Gathering the Desert” 

–Rendezvous are events were people who are into this stuff present their skills and teach others.  A complete list of events can be found at hollowtop.com.

–Whichever foot print is bigger means means more weight.

–Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use bear spray on a cougar.

–Japanese wet stones are awesome because they only need water and not oil to sharpen a knife.

–The bubonic plague kills prairie dogs.  Do not eat a mangy-looking mammal that lives in a dark hole surrounded by other mammals.  Disease and plague can run rampant.  On a side note, if an animal does not look healthy do not eat that animal, no matter how hungry one is.  This rule also applies to zombies.

–The bigger the wood the bigger the fire bubble.

–To survive and prosper in the wilderness you will need a knife, a saw, an axe and a good pot to cook in.

–Anything left over goes in the stew, this is why one needs a good pot.

–Belive in yourself.

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Many years ago I was a Park Ranger at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico.   In my mind, Chaco Canyon is the most impressive Native American Ruins in the United States.  I feel it is sad that every school kid in america does not know the story of Chaco.  The Anasazi built a great trading network across the South West, with Chaco as its central trading hub.  And then one day they left.    There is debate of where they went, many would say (and I agree) that they became the Pueblo people of the SouthWest.  

Another great debate about Chaco is WHY they left.  If they became the Pueblo, then the equivalent of what they did would be if we, in modern America, decided to abandon our legal system, our education system, our monetary system, our transportation system, and went and lived in the woods like the uni-bomber.   What would make a society throw away everything they had built? 

There is no evidence of  war on ascale that would take to decimate a society.  There is no evidence of mass plague.  There is some evidence of drought, but not on a scale that we would expect would cause mass starvation.

On the summer solstice, it appears the sun does not move for three days.  For those skywatchers this would have been signficant.  A common Native American belief is that on the summer solstice, the sun goes into his house and decides if his people are worthy of another year of life.   If the sun decides his people do not deserve another day, he stays in his house, which would mean endless summer, which for those living in the SouthWest, would really suck.

The Dine’ people tell stories of how the Anasazi were punished by the gods because of their immoral lifestyle, just like we think orgies helped bring down the Romans.   I suspect an “immoral lifestyle” in the SouthWest is the waste of precious resources. 

My guess, and others as well, is that drought caused the abandonment of Chaco Canyon, but not because the loss of crops forced the people out, but the people interpreted the drought as they should leave, that the life they were living was not approved.  Which in a way it wouldn’t have been, as more and more people lived in the desert city, then the resources would have been maxed out.    I don’t think we today are capable of doing what the Anasazi did.   Al Gore might win an Oscar for An Inconvient Truth, but little else changes. 

So, if I am right, which is a big if, then Anasazi, as a society, volunteered to create their own Apocalypse.  Which is either extremely noble or stupid, depending how one looks at it.