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Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?

Paul Burke 26 Nov 08 - 05:42 AM
Melissa 26 Nov 08 - 05:54 AM
maeve 26 Nov 08 - 07:32 AM
Jack Campin 26 Nov 08 - 08:52 AM
katlaughing 26 Nov 08 - 10:26 AM
GUEST 26 Nov 08 - 11:12 AM
Jack Campin 26 Nov 08 - 11:19 AM
Richard Bridge 26 Nov 08 - 12:12 PM
maeve 26 Nov 08 - 12:32 PM
Paul Burke 26 Nov 08 - 12:47 PM
Bob the Postman 27 Nov 08 - 08:08 AM
Uncle_DaveO 27 Nov 08 - 10:00 AM
katlaughing 27 Nov 08 - 10:59 AM
Sorcha 27 Nov 08 - 11:42 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Nov 08 - 01:52 PM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 27 Nov 08 - 02:10 PM
Jack Campin 27 Nov 08 - 08:18 PM
open mike 28 Nov 08 - 12:07 AM
Paul Burke 28 Nov 08 - 03:35 AM
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Subject: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 05:42 AM

From the ipswich Journal of 1764:

June 23rd 1764

Philadelphia, America. May 24th-On Saturday last came to this town a girl of about 16 years who has been a prisoner amongst the Indians of the upper parts of Sesquehannah for some years past, she says there are a great number of Indians in the town where she was at and a great number of white prisoners, when the Indians heard of the massacre of Indians at Lancaster they were extremely enraged, the squaws all night were tearing their hair and the warriors promised revenge, they began to be very cross with the prisoners on which she and two others projected to escape and having for their subsistence on the way they stole some of their green powder, they left about three weeks since, running all night and hiding in the day, when they came to the Foot Hills the young man and woman left to go to the German Flats and she came hither. Her name is Sally Wilkins and she was taken from a place called Guinea in Northampton County about 20 miles above the Wind Gap and that she has a brother who was taken with her but has not heard of him since. The green powder she says is composed of Indian meal, some dried roots and herbs and a good deal of salt, a spoonful a day is sufficient for one person to keep him from hunger but makes them very thirsty making them drink a good deal of water, this powder is found in woods has been all her subsistence on the journey and she looks pretty well.


Anyone any idea of what this stuff was?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: Melissa
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 05:54 AM

I have heard of something made of ground corn, grease and fruit/veg..pounded together. It was something easy to carry and store and a couple tablespoons gave a day's worth of energy..

I hope somebody comes along that knows what green powder is, I'll be interested in learning about it!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: maeve
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 07:32 AM

Sounds like a form of pemmican/pemican, to which Melissa referred. There were and are various regional, community, and individual formulations of this traditional Native American food concentrate. Plant products (corn/maize, dried berries, herbs, nuts, roots, etc.), dried and powdered lean meat, and fat (often bear fat) are common basic ingredients.

maeve


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 08:52 AM

I went on a tour of the Soutra Isle archaeological site a while back - it was a mediaeval hospital in the south of Scotland. The guide was a paleobotanist involved in teh project, and he mentioned one thing they'd come across which has scattered mentions in mediaeval chronicles: a kind of pea which acts like Botox on hunger-perception neurons. Chew a few of them and you don't feel hunger at all for weeks afterwards. It was traditionally used in times of famine. They had managed to identify what it was and had passed the details on to medical researchers - I didn't get a precise identification, though. It's a small hedgerow legume.

Paul's description suggests something with properties like that rather than simply a concentrated food.

(The archaeologists hadn't tried it themselves. Look up "lathyrism" for why you don't want to just leap in and try unknown neuroactive legumes without killing a few guinea pigs first).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 10:26 AM

Reminds me of this Modern Day Green Powder.

This one lists ingredients some of which were available back then: Click HEre.

They may also have included American ginseng which was introduced to the Europeans, by Native Americans, in the 1700s.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 11:12 AM

"The green powder she says is composed of Indian meal, some dried roots and herbs and a good deal of salt"

I don't see any connection to Jack Campion's suggestion, interesting though it was.

Ginseng is certainly a possibility as one of the herbs, kat. There are any number of possible herbs. The basic formula is that of a pemmican.

maeve


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 11:19 AM

What I was suggesting was that the "roots and herbs" would have to have a pharmacological effect rather than a nutritional one for the stuff to work as described. I don't think ginseng alone would do it, though it would certainly help.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 12:12 PM

Coca?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: maeve
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 12:32 PM

Sorry, lost my cookie. That was my post at 11:12, above.

Thanks for the clarifiction, Jack. You said, "What I was suggesting was that the "roots and herbs" would have to have a pharmacological effect rather than a nutritional one for the stuff to work as described"

I would respectfully suggest it is a possibility rather than a requirement. All of the various pemmican mixtures with which I am familiar combine high energy foods. The autumn and winter mixtures include rendered fat. Spring and summer mixtures might not. Powdered lean meats, maize (the meal mentioned), berries, maple sugar, honey, nuts, seeds, and acorns are high-energy foods. All are common ingredients in historical and current recipes.

While it is certainly true that many plant materials have pharmacological properties, and such plants were used more or less skillfully by those with the knowledge of appropriate medicinal applications, all of the pemmican mixtures I have researched in the past have functioned as high-energy foods based on nutritional aspects alone. It's an interesting point, and I look forward to looking further into the theory when I have time. Thank you for the suggestion.

Returning to the "green powder" described in Paul Burke's initial post, I'd also like to look into the travel foods of the geographical and cultural bounderies of the cited excerpt. When considering such historical accounts I remind myself that the details are only as good as the understanding of the original reporter and the accuracy of the recorder. This will be a fun exploration. Thanks for the original post, Paul Burke. How did you come across the excerpt you quoted?

For now, here is an offering of some interesting sites related to the thread subject.

http://www.nativeweb.org/resources/food/

http://w4.lns.cornell.edu/~seb/pemmican.html

http://www.tc.umn.edu/~haskell/HSP/PEMMICAN.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pemmican

http://www.aurora-inn.mb.ca/food.html#chart

maeve


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 26 Nov 08 - 12:47 PM

This magnificent bunch of local historians has transcribed excerpts from many years of local newspapers from East Anglia, and cover the years 1740-1952. especially in the ealy years, there are fascinating reports from America (the shootings at Lexington proved to be a false rumour), minor and major tragedies and injustices, a child of 10 sentenced to death for killing his playmate (perhaps the sentence wasn't carried out), women transported for stealing a little property, a "sodomite" murdered by the mob while standing in the pillory, men of 75 marrying girls of 17, deserters flogged and shot, wives sold (and sold back for a greater price the next week), marriages, multiple births (including conjoined twins), deaths tragic and comic, cricket matches, riots, starvation, acts of kindness and honesty, smuggling and farms for sale.

I ran across the site quite by accident while I was looking for something else.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 08:08 AM

Further to Jack's post of 26 Nov 8:52, some of the "locoweeds" which poison cattle in North America are leguminous. Also, the common lupine, a leguminous plant which favours disturbed ground, was used by some First Nations peoples in B. C. during famines as its narcotic effects made hunger easier to bear. I read that in a book by Nancy Turner, I believe.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 10:00 AM

Someone mentioned coca.

Since this incident happened in the Pennsylvania area, it seems unlikely in the extreme that coca was part of the powder. Coca is a South American plant which I don't think could grow that far north.

And while there were surprisingly long-distance traders among the Indians, it seems VERY unlikely that they would have traded sufficient quantities of coca from South America to be part of this cultural practice.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 10:59 AM

For those who relish old newspaper sites like the one cited above (great link, thanks!)you can find some really incredible old stories in the Colorado Historical Newspapers Collection, too.

The Featured Topics Page is a fun one. Also, the "This Week" section is fun, too.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: Sorcha
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 11:42 AM

'Locoweed' is jimson/sacred datura/moonflower. Yea, it'll get you high..it'll also kill you. There was also kinnikinik....a smoking powder, also called Indian Tobacco.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 01:52 PM

'Locoweed' may apply to several leguminous plants (Bob the postman is correct).
Oxytropis-Astragalus species (pea-legume family, flowers resemble sweet peas) are the ones that cause the most damage to livestock. There are several species, spread from Mexico to Canada, much more common in the West.
See U. S. Dept. Agriculture notice- Locoweeds

Datura ('jimsonweed'), nightshade family, is toxic but is not a locoweed. The common one in the U. S. has large white flowers and a taproot.

It would seem the food with the 'green powder' is a form of pemmican, which was widespread in use across northern U. S. and southern Canada.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 02:10 PM

Further to Paul Burke's link to the very interesting, historical East Anglia papers, I was puzzled to read information about Culloden/Drumossie Moor dating from March 3rd, 1746; the battle took place in April of that year. Since there's more than eleven days between April 16th and March 3rd (i.e. the change in the calendar can't be the explanation), and I'm pretty sure that the names of the months would have been written in full in any case, I'm at a complete loss here. Any suggestions?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 08:18 PM

With an April 18 dateline on the letter, it looks like they copied the newspaper date from the previous record but it was really in the April 29 issue like the next quote.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: open mike
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 12:07 AM

i was surprised to find loco weed, (jimson weed, datura,) growing
near my house after the fire. The seeds must be fire dependant
or oportunistic.


http://www.saguaro-juniper.com/i_and_i/flowers/datura/datura.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datura
http://www.buzzle.com/articles/datura-plant.html
http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/jimsonweed/jimsonweed.html
http://www.desertusa.com/aug97/du_datura.html

i doubt if these would be in any nutritional mix.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: American Indian 'green powder'?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 03:35 AM

There are flaws in the transcritions- it's all done by volunteers, and I think you'll find some records in more than one year, possibly because the microfiches from which they are copied are not very readable. I'm sure they would welcome an email correcting the error.

I could have sworn I posted something on this last night, I agree it's probably pemmican, but is it normally green? and "powder"?

And is there any other record of Sally Wilkins and her family?


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