Topic: Farming

Chickahominy children cracking walnuts with stone mortar and pounder

Powhatan Agriculture

A review of some agricultural practices of the Powhatan shows but a few traces of aboriginal Indian survival by the 1920’s.

Extracting wokas seeds by the diachas process

Extracting Wokas Seeds by the Diachas Process

In wokas pods properly roasted as well the interior tissues are in the condition of a mucilaginous paste. The seeds do not separate from this paste as readily as they do from the mucilage in pods of the spokwas grade, and therefore the Indian has invented another method of extracting them. This method is known as diachas (di-ä”-chäs”). About a peck of actual, of either the nokapk or the chiniakum grade, is placed upon a sack or upon a hard smooth area of bare ground and pounded with a small stone ská into a gluey mass. To this is added

Illustration of a wokas camp at the close of the season

Wokas as an Article of Commerce

In the preparation of lolensh and of shiwulinz the broken seed shells (tsi’-hlak) are winnowed, as already described, from the seed kernels. These seed shells or hulls are not always thrown away, but they are often saved for a later curious use. In the manufacture of their finer baskets and trays the Klamaths use for both warp and weft cords twisted from the split outer surface of the tule (Scirpus lacustris). Upon the main body of the basket as woven from these cords are overlaid various designs in white, black, yellow, and maroon. The patterns in black are made from

One day's wokas harvest of two women.

Spokwas

The basketful of spokwas as it is brought from the boat is emptied into a pit dug in the ground for the purpose, to which each successive day’s harvest of spokwas is added. The disintegrating pods undergo some process of fermentation, which changes them into a mucilaginous liquid mass having the texture of a thin but very elastic dough. The pits are commonly 1½ to 2 feet in both diameter and depth. The top is covered with grass, tales, or an empty grain sack. These holes may be found anywhere about a wokas camp, and from the inconspicuous character of

Wokas in process of grinding on a mealing stone

Lolensh

Fresh wokas seeds, in which the kernels are still moist, are in the condition necessary for manufacture into what is called lolensh (lo-lensh’). This condition exists in spokwas and in the two grades of seeds, nokapk and chiniakuni, derived from cooked pods, or away described below. The dried seeds, lowed and stontablaks, can not be made into lolensh. The fresh seeds are placed in a frying pan, one or two quarts at a time, and held over a fire for perhaps ten minutes, constantly stirred or shaken. This operation dries and partially cooks the seed, leaving the shell brittle and

Wokas drying pile and implements

Shnaps and Lowak

In the preparation of shnaps from shelled wokas, kernels, or lolensh, the primitive method of roasting with live coals in a wokas shaker, as described under shiwulinz, seems to have been entirely discarded. The frying pan is now used instead by all the Indians. A handful or two of lolensh, either the fresh or the dried and stored product, about enough to barely cover the bottom, is thrown into a hot frying pan and roasted briskly over a fire until it is nicely parched and slightly browned, the pan being shaken meanwhile to prevent scorching. The kernels swell, crack their