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By Linda Murray Berzok

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Extra resources for American Indian food (Food in American History Series)

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Wappato, a water plant with a bulb that grows in the bottom of shallow lakes and pools, was gathered by wading in, locating plants with toes and prying them loose to float to the surface. The interior Indians ate the most roots, particularly the plentiful camas that became brittle when dried, smashed and pressed into cakes. The isolation of the Northwest Coast helped to develop a culture peculiar to these tribes. They lived in plank houses (supported by a framework of logs to which planks were attached) occupied by several families.

3 However, when the Europeans first arrived and were hungry, they were happy to accept gifts of native food or raid Indian stores. The Indians were equally unimpressed by European food. They thought wheat vastly inferior to maize and were horrified when they saw the newcomers feeding corn, as they called it, to their pigs and cattle. When a French ship docked in the St. 4 “New World” foodstuffs held little attraction for Europeans as they were establishing their colonies, looking for gold, pursuing the fountain of youth and trading for furs.

Starvation was frequent.

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