“[The Coast Salish gathered] huckleberries of several varieties in enormous quantities. A large part of the crop was dried for winter food. In the common method the berries were spread over a mat stretched between Y-stakes and a small fire was kept burning beneath them to aid the drying action of the sun…
The Yakima…raised a long earth mound, covered one face with mats upon which the berries were spread, and built small fires before them. Some Yakima women secured as much as 50 pounds of the dried fruit, which became raisin-like and, when later boiled, expanded once again like modern beans.”
“Sooty Grouse were drawn in large numbers to the huckleberry patches in the fruiting season…[feasting] until, their crops distended, they hate even to fly. Moreover, the fermenting juices of the overripe berries have a decided alcoholic effect on many of the birds…the larger children and more active women might well have experienced little difficulty in capturing them.”
An imposing geologic feature that once provided a variety of natural resources to the indigenous people who lived nearby, the sheer size of Mount Rainier prompted many to call it simply, The Mountain, or “Takhoma.” Today, the area defined as Mount Rainier National Park is a rectangular complex of dense forests, turbulent streams, mountain crags, and glacial masses, encompassing approximately 377 square miles. The volcanic cone of Mount Rainier towers to a height of 14,408 feet and comprises about one-fourth of the total Park area. These formidable physical characteristics had long impeded modern researchers. As a result, in 1963, when faculty at Washington State University decided to investigate the region’s prehistory under contract with the National Park Service, its archaeological past was virtually unknown.
Combining an exhaustive search of the pre-existing data and literature with a field study comprised of interviewing elderly Native Americans, the researchers sought to ascertain the locations of possible archaeological sites in Mount Rainier National Park, and secure data to assist in their interpretation. Takhoma: Ethnography of Mount Rainier National Park presents the analysis of the collected and recovered material addressing native toponymy, tribal identities and boundaries, village sites and structures, aboriginal economic and other uses of the region, and native trails, travel, and trade. This informative investigation served as a valuable first step toward unraveling the cultural past of Mount Rainier National Park.
Photographs / maps / notes / references / 208 pages (2006)