Acorns, Oaks, and the Native Peoples
- John C. Fremont, Along the American River, 1844
The "acorn meal” Fremont and his party ate for lunch was the staple diet of the indigenous peoples of California.
Acorns contain fat, protein and carbohydrates similar to our modern wheat and corn. Each tribe had its own methods of gathering, storing, hauling, drying, leaching, grinding, and cooking the acorn. Acorns were not eaten raw, as the bitter tannins in the acorn were unpalatable. Acorns were ground into a meal, made into a paste and subjected to many washings before drying, baking or cooking for consumption. The process of storing, grinding, washing
The Nisenan, Miwok, Patwin people surrounding Sacramento depended on the acorn harvest as a main source of food. The Oak also figured prominently in the spiritual life of the people. All parts of the acorn were used for food, implements, fuel and shelter. Parts of the Oak tree were used in rituals surrounding birth, puberty and death. The Oak was invoked as a life sustaining force of the native people of California, as this Maidu song references the cycle of life.
The acorns come sown from heaven.
I plant the short acorns in the valley.
I plant the long acorns in the valley.
I sprout; I, the black acorn, sprout;
The oval bowl of the fountain in the center of this park is a reference to the many vessels which were part of the harvesting rituals.
Near the street a Blue Oak has been planted in memory of the Oak cultures of California and as a gesture towards California's stewardship of the land and its rich ecology. In time, as the Oak matures its canopy will cover this park, dropping its acorns and reminding us of the many oak ecologies and the people who lived in harmony with the land before Europeans.
The information here can be referenced in:
The Oaks of California -
Published by Cachuma Press & the California Oak Foundation, 1991
Erected by State of California.
Location. 38° 34.44′ N, 121° 29.368′ W. Marker is in Sacramento, California, in Sacramento County. Marker is at the intersection of N Street and 15th Street, on the right when traveling east on N Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1430 N Street, Sacramento CA 95814, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Jean A. Bell Kellogg (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); California Veterans Memorial (about 400 feet away); Elbridge L. Hawk (about 400 feet away); Sacramento Purple Heart Memorial (about 400 feet away); Westminster Presbyterian Church (about 500 feet away); California Firefighters Memorial (about 700 feet away); California Vietnam Veterans Memorial (about 700 feet away); The California State Insectary (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Sacramento.
Categories. • Environment • Native Americans •
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Credits. This page was last revised on December 30, 2019. This page originally submitted on December 30, 2019, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 35 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on December 30, 2019, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.