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Tule Reeds and Cattails: An Adventure, A Guidebook

Tule Reeds and Cattails: An Adventure, A Guidebook

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Tule Reeds and Cattails: An Adventure, A Guidebook

135 pages
1 heure
Jan 26, 2018


These marsh plants can feed and shelter! Contemporary Indians taught the authors about their cultures and how to use plants. The Adventure is the history of California Indians and their wise use of these and other plants. For thousands of years plants provided survival and were used creatively and sustainably. Native wisdom is a form of conservation that makes wise use of resources. Using the history of Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo, we recount early visitors and how they misunderstood the those they met. Despite the Missions' control and the Gold Rush destruction, enough Indians survived to continue past culture and practices. The Guidebook leads you through basic skills, such as making rope and mats. Learn to make toys and fish traps. Because the plants are nutritious, there are even recipes. Links to videos and instructions provide additional training.

Best of all, we provide detailed instructions on building a navigable reed boat, using photos from our own experience. Being aware of the value of hands-on learning, we involved classrooms and children in these projects. Our experience offers pointers on every step of the process, from gathering reeds to launching the boat.

The history also includes quotes from primary sources, such as those of explorer like Frances Drake. The materials will help any teacher approaching the revised Social Science curriculum for California 4th grade. Because these plants occur throughout the United States, the content transfers outside California. California Native history is distinct from others, such as the Plains or Northeast Woodlands, so it offers a good contrast to understand the amazing diversity of American Indian life. The Appendices include a lengthy bibliography of the scholarly sources we used, along with an annotated list of websites for further information.

Jan 26, 2018

À propos de l'auteur

Clarice Stasz is the author of The Vanderbilt Women (1991) and American Dreamers (1990). She is a professor of history at Sonoma State University and lives in Petaluma, California.

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Tule Reeds and Cattails - Clarice Stasz

Tule Reeds and Cattails

An Adventure, A Guidebook

Corinne Swall

Clarice Stasz

Copyright © 2017 by Mother Lode Publishing

All rights reserved.

Published by Clarice Stasz at Smashwords


CAVEAT: It is understood that those applying the projects described herein may involve an element of risk or danger, and that the user takes full responsibility for assuming risk. Pay close attention to safety concerns, and act responsibly.

Copyrights: We have taken every care to ensure no copyrights have been violated. If you are aware of such, please contact us for appropriate correction.

Book Layout © 2014 BookDesignTemplates.com

Tule Reeds and Cattails: An Adventure, A Guidebook

Corinne Swall , Clarice Stasz

ISBN 978-0-9967693-5-8

In memory of Lanny Pinola, Kashaya Pomo

Thank you for your generosity of spirit and for opening a window into the Miwok/Pomo culture and people. You will be with us forever.



Reviving History

California's First People Introduced

Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo



Official Removal

Tules and Cattails

You Can Use These Plants!






Build a Navigable Boat (Introduction)

Supply List

Gathering Reeds

Setup the Event

Building Day in the Four Areas

Launch the Boat

Useful Websites



About Corinne Swall

About Clarice Stasz

Tamalpais, 1900, William Keith.

Courtesy of Haggin Museum, Stockland, CA


Childhood Remembrances of a Wilderness

A painting of the Ross Valley by early California artist William Keith shows the splendor of Mt. Tamalpais, redwoods and marshes, as they were 100 years ago. The couple of original settlers we children knew while growing up, spoke of the marsh as thick and beautifully carpeted with pickle weed. They told us that in their youth minks ran like cats, spawning salmon made their way upstream, and great blue heron abounded. In my youth, these huge birds visited our garden to hunt for frogs, but when the last ephemeral pools and wild strawberry beds were paved over, all we children could do was to try to save a few tadpoles, bringing them home to a neighbor’s pond.

Our playgrounds included the surrounding marshes and mud-flat, called by us the slough. In today’s vocabulary we know these as wetlands—vast tracts that once surrounded all of San Francisco Bay, now reduced in size. In their place are cheek-by-jowl houses, shops, restaurants and gas stations.

One of the main purposes of building a Tule Reed Boat was to call attention to the desperate plight of the vanished marshlands, the polluted creeks, endangered species, and lost traditions. The adventure that followed drew a large crowd of would be boat makers, skilled teachers, volunteer worker bees, artists, and delighted children. Our first boat was very large: we built a 150 pound, eighteen foot long, elegant, sweet smelling boat roomy enough to carry 4 to 6 people. Kayak paddles served to propel us all around Tomales Bay at first, until a volunteer learned how to make an authentic paddle.

I decided to share our experience and lessons learned with all who might wish to build a Tule Boat to encourage participation in rediscovering traditional Native American skills and becoming aware of environmental issues. I hope you enjoy using the Tule Reeds and Cattails—An Adventure, A Guidebook, and you will come join in the fun. Your skills and ideas are most welcome!

Corinne Swall

Reviving History

The lure of boats introduced us to the amazing uses of reeds and cattails. In the process, we learned more about local history and the importance of retaining wetlands. Take a plant so common it is easy to ignore while you walk through a landscape. That bright red flower or towering tree or unexpected bird seems so much more interesting. Yet our preference for the bright or large or unusual keeps us from appreciating the significance of common species.

In modern day, reeds and cattails seem not only useless, but are called weeds by some. These green swaths of swordlike leaves readily spread along the margins of water. Say you see a pond where you want to swim, but the thick growth blocks entry. Or you are a farmer and apply chemicals to dampen any signs of a cattail by a small irrigation pond. As will be seen, these obstacles to human desire have for centuries satisfied many human needs. The modern viewer may be nearsighted out of ignorance.

Our interest began through research into Coast California tribes that met the first Europeans to their shores. We live near Point Reyes, where these meetings occurred. Traditional California textbooks often distorted the history of Native Americans. The writers implied Natives were primitive, ignorant, and childish. Although textbooks are changing, many books in public libraries continue to perpetuate stereotypes and misunderstanding. What the leading scholar noted in 1978 continues today in a some textbooks and websites.

Traditionally, California Indians have been portrayed in history as a docile primitive people, who openly embraced the invading Spaniards and were rapidly subdued. This simplistic contention adds little to a realistic understanding of native history in California and undoubtedly is derived from crude feelings of racial superiority on the part of its advocates. (Heizer, 1978:99)

In the 1800s, even scientists referred to them as Diggers, a reference to their using sticks to probe tubers and roots from the soil for food. This term continued into speech, laws, and writings. (How were local Indians presented in your textbooks? What about in the media--films, photos, and cartoons?)

California schools eliminated the term Diggers, yet striking biases continued. Discussion of the Franciscan Missions is an example. A common story is how such life improved conditions for Indians, with less reference to their being essentially enslaved and exposed to deadly diseases. The

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