[singing] I just fell in love
with song. It’s just an acorn
processing song. It’s a Paiute song
from the east side, the Paiutes on the
east side loved acorn, but they don’t have
acorns over there. That’s why we
traded back and forth. That’s the reason
we filtered over the mountains and
ran the Chukchansis off of their land
is because we wanted the black oak acorn
and we had to have it. ♪♪ [theme music] Acorn is a pure,
living food. You’re putting that
scared into your body, man, you’re putting
life into your body. I know the power
of acorn, I know what it can
do for the human body. Our men were
long distance runners, and they would just
have a little fanny pack and put some of those
, those dumplings
in a pack, maybe with a little bit of jerky,
and then run to Bishop. ♪♪ There was some
form of acorn processing going on
every day in the village because for each person
in the tribe, it took approximately
1,000 pounds of acorn to sustain 1 individual
for a year. [thump, thump] [crack] When you’re
processing acorn, I mean, it’s work,
but it is a spiritual experience. Acorn is charge
the whole time and you better do it
it’s way or you’re going to wind up throwing
it over the hill because it’s not
going to come out right. This little rock here
can be made out of granite, usually it is. It’s called a pessoa watu. [crack, crack] I love doing this
the traditional way. I’ve tried using hammer
to crack and shell. The pesso wati
is the best way. It’s a big process
because I mean, cracking and shelling,
well you’ve already gathered,
so there’s the big job there, and you made
your acorn grainery and you sweat doing that,
so you’re ready to crack and shell. Once you get them
this way, then you got to get the red skins off. We set them
out in the sun, because acorns are
full of oil, so when you set them
in the sun the skins start to turn loose,
but they still have got those 3 seams where
they grow together and you got to put
a knife in there, a wahi, and pop that open
to get that red skin out. Then you got to leech it,
which is running water over the flour. They would go down
to the creek, make nice little
mound of sand with an abalone shell,
flatten it off on top, make a little dam
around it, and either put
cedar bows down on the leeching bed
or putting it right down on the sand. They heat water
in a basket with the soapstone rocks,
because you cook from the inside out,
but you just keep working that rock
around in there. You keep sticking
your finger in there until
it’s the right temperature, and then you ladle
it on your acorn flour. The sand pulls
the water through the acorn. Then you’re ready to cook. We’re back to the
soapstone again. Soapstone is extremely,
extremely hot and what happens when
it goes in that basket with that acorn,
what it’s doing is actually roasting
the acorn. You can actually
see that acorn brown in that basket,
and it just brings out the richness of
the flavor. You cannot get
that in a pot. You just cannot
because a pot can’t get as hot as
this soapstone. I’ve got these
things so hot, when I put them
in a basket it actually scared me. You want some
really good chicaonos, chicaonos are
stirring sticks. You want some good,
strong ones and you want to be ready
for action and you better be strong. Our grandmas were
really strong. These are
black oak acorns that have been
cracked and shelled and I’m going to
split the seams open. Each acorn has
about 3 seams, and what I do
is I push the acorns. There’s a little bit
more in here than I normally would have,
but I push them to the end and then
I just work my way through,
splitting the seams wherever I see them. I try to keep some
cowan, that’s the uncooked acorn,
in the freezer. Then that way
all I’ve got to do is thaw it out
and mix it with a desired amount
of water, and then I’ve got it hot. My husband built me
a tray that I can leech 5 gallons of flour
at a time. What I’ve done is
I’ve put it other foods. You can put it in bread. I’ve even made pies
out of it, pumpkin pie. There’s maybe 5 of us
in the North Fork area to gather acorns
and we can’t even find enough for ourselves
at this point. It is difficult to find
acorn because the trees are unhealthy
because of the mistletoe, because of
the competition from other trees
taking their water. A long time ago,
there were more oak trees. A lot have died. A lot. My grandmas would
not allow their environment
to look this way. They’re either going
to cut trees, prune them. When they would go
through, they’re going to burn. Their number one
thing was their oak trees, and that sustained
not only them but the squirrels
and the squirrels provide for the other animals,
so we’re back to balance. Now it is totally
out of balance. If you don’t use
something, you neglect it,
it goes away. The oak trees
are going to go away. Unfortunately,
we’ve lost a lot of our culture. The animals
need the plants, the people need
the plants. Without the
beautiful ancestors of the plants,
I don’t see how we could exist. Constantly they are giving. Constantly we are taking,
and that happens a lot with development. When they scrape
the ground and scrape the skin of the
Mother Earth, and they take out 100
oak trees and they say, “Don’t worry. We’re going
to give them back to you.” When they give them
back to us, they plant them in a 5 gallon
can and you know that in your lifetime,
you will never get to see that tree give
the acorns and come to full bloom because
it takes them such a very long time. That’s why we try
to plant things ourselves in our
yard so that we’re helping them come back. I’d like to welcome
you to a few of the members from the
Chia Café Collective. A group of
Southern California native and non-native
who come together for the love and interest
in native plants and all the gifts
that they give to us. Sage is so good
for a sore throat, for your gums,
if you have a lot of dental work done. The seeds can be
ground just like chia. They can be ground
and they can be toasted and you can make
them into things. You can add them
to your beverages or to thickening
as a soup or a stew. We used a very
special type of tool, a beater fan. That’s what we
use to get the seeds out. Tapping them
out so that the plant still was allowed
to be there. Then toasting
was done in flat baskets,
by putting hot coals or hot rocks in there
and simply stirring them on top
of the seeds, and that would cook
them into your tea. This is how you
can make them in a modern way. Native plant gardens
are very popular because of the drought,
so people are learning that they can have
medicines just right in front of them. We encourage
you to grow your own. Barbara’s been doing
teas for years and the white sage tea
is one that she talks about a lot
and because it has all those nice things in it,
like antibacterial properties, antimicrobial, antiseptic,
it is very cooling on a warm day. As Chia Café Collective,
there are certain results that we want
from the work that we do
and Barbara, one of the original
goals that she had was to make a lot
of our harvesting places accessible to people. It was also to provide
education to not only our
own communities, but to the general public
about the importance of native plants. Today, our palates
have become so desensitized
because of a lot of the processing
that our foods contain, with the white sugar
and the flour. We’re trying to
reintroduce people to some of the
contemporary foods by having those items. Sometimes we do
use white flour. Sometimes we do
use products like agave syrup,
but it’s to combine those two and get
people used to that way of eating
and then they can gradually start
removing some of those products,
the white flour and kind of reverse
the process of what has been done. All of our communities
are threatened and losing people from
diabetes and other diseases that come
in from the introduced diet. A lot of the tribes
have been going back to their traditional foods
and growing them and sharing them
and utilizing them and making
themselves healthy. It’s all about that,
about making our communities
healthy again and correcting things. We’re so used
to getting everything from stores,
those of us who live in urban area and cities. Everything that
we need to survive, for the most part,
comes from a store whether it’s food,
clothing, a repair on your house,
everything is from a store. It’s there. We’re not used
to going out and harvesting and gathering
that ourselves. With Chia,
our traditional chia, you really can’t
find in our area. The chia that you
find in the stores is a different species. Our chia, you just
can’t fine anymore. It makes me feel that
there’s this wanting for us to be able to
grow that again and to harvest it
the way my ancestors did, because it’s one of
the foods that we can’t go out in
nature and harvest. There’s just not
enough of it anymore. What I just made
right now, I used to call it chia candy
but we kind of changed the name to
chia power bars because of the
health benefits. It’s something that
you can take with you on a hike or
if you’re outdoors gardening,
you can keep a little baggy, and it really boost
your energy level. You can really add it
to anything and get a protein boost from it. Aside from the protein
that it has, it has omega-3s in it,
so it does have a lot of health benefits to it. Just like I do
with any plant, I’m looking at it
for the nutritional value it has. I see it as that’s its gift
that it’s giving to us as humans. Those are the things
that I try to pass on to the children
is trying to make that connection
that the earth is what it’s all about. I’m always telling them,
we all come from different mothers
but we only share one Mother Earth. I think children, especially
don’t realize that their house is
made out of wood. Their clothing might
come from a plant. Our tribe, everything
we needed came from the plant. Our food, our medicine,
our clothes, our soap, our tools, our basketry,
everything. The plants were so
very important to us as they still are today. We are relearning
those things today. We would like to call
our ancestors by singing a song
and welcome them to be with us. We always do that
because they are our teachers. [drumming] [singing] As a person
who learned from my elders
about these things, the only thing that
I can really hold onto is hope. If we can start getting
people to understand, I don’t care where
you go on this earth, you better honor
the indigenous of that place,
whether it’s the people, the animals, the plants,
the water because that’s what’s
going to heal you, that’s what’s going
to continue you living as a human on this earth. The moment that
you disregard that, everything is thrown
out of balance. [drumming and singing] ♪♪