Sunday, August 2, 2009

Insight into the Luiseno Diet

The property on which Tierra Miguel farms is owned by the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians, one of seven bands of the Luiseno Indians. We, here at the farm, strive to connect to the cultural past of Pauma Valley and its native inhabitants, and in so doing continue to learn about the Pauma Indians and their traditional diet. Before the times when cheap food could be quickly shipped around the world, people of all cultures had to depend upon locally available foodstuffs to make up most of their diet.

Below are some traditional foods that the Luiseno have enjoyed since time immemorial.From the Pauma Band website
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The Luiseño people enjoyed life in a land rich with diverse plants and animals. Our people have been described as hunters and gatherers. The men hunted deer, antelope, rabbits, wood rats, ducks, quail, seafood and various insects. Hunters used bows and arrows, spear throwers, rabbit sticks, traps, nets, clubs and slings to catch game. Fishermen and traders used dugout canoes in the ocean and tule reed boats or rafts in the rivers and lakes. Family groups had specific hunting and gathering areas in the mountains and along the coast. Individuals from outside these groups only crossed the boundaries of these areas upon permission.

Women gathered seeds, roots, wild berries, acorns, wild grapes, strawberries, wild onions and prickly pear in finely woven baskets. The Pauma and other Luiseño peoples are world renown for their expertise in coiled baskets made from the flora of the region.

At the heart of our traditional foods is wìiwish, a tasty ground acorn mush and healthy food staple rich in protein. Evidence of acorn and seed processing and shellfish use dominates ancient sites throughout the Luiseño territory. The most visible evidence is the bedrock milling stone mortars used for processing seeds like acorns. These bedrock mortars sites are located throughout our region.

The traditional territory of the Luiseño people extends along the coast, from the north near San Juan Capistrano, south to the Encinitas/Carlsbad area and east to the valleys of the coastal mountains and Mt. Palomar. Today this area is in northern San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties.

Tierra Miguel is growing domesticated versions of the following traditional Luiseno foods; roots, wild berries, wild grapes, strawberries, and wild onions. Currently growing at the farm are carrots, beets, radishes, potatoes, grapes, raspberries, strawberries and onions among many other items.

Wiiwish is the Luiseno dood that I would most like to taste. My understanding is that it was a staple of their diet. Stay tuned to read how wiiwish and other traditional foods continue to be part of the Luiseno diet.

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