FOOD more  -->

What kinds of things did they eat?

The Huron were horticulturalists, which means they were farmers or gardeners. They grew their own corn, beans, and squash. In this longhouse you can see corn and some things that look like pumpkins. Pumpkins are a type of squash. Why did they grow these three things together? Corn, beans, and squash are called the Three Sisters. Corn and beans have amino acids in them. Amino acids are what we need to make protein. We usually get this from meat, but some people don't eat meat. Some people are vegetarians. They need to find their protein from other foods. Corn and beans have amino acids that complement each other. This means that if you eat them together, you will get a complete protein. If you eat them separately you will have an incomplete diet. The Huron were also hunters and gatherers. They hunted animals like deer, bear, and wolves. They fished from the lakes and rivers around their village. The Huron gathered berries and roots for food, as well as other things that could be used for making different medicines.

Inuit ate only meat and fish. Lichens and moss were the only types of vegetation that grew in the Arctic. The Inuit people did not want to eat the lichens and moss right off the rocks. (Yuck! I don't think you would like to eat moss either!) There was one way that the Inuit could get the nutrients that they needed from vegetation and this might surprise you! Caribou like to eat moss and lichens. When Inuit hunters killed a caribou, they opened up its stomach to see if the caribou had eaten any lichens and moss. If some of this partially digested vegetation was in the stomach, the Inuit would eat it to get the nutrients they needed. This was a delicacy, which means that it was very special and very desired.

The Haida and other Northwest Coast people did not need to grow their own food. They had access to many different kinds of food. Because there was a milder climate, many edible things, as well as things that they used for different medicines grew in the forests around their villages. They were hunters and gatherers. They hunted animals like deer, bear, and mountain goats in the forests and mountains. The Haida also fished in the rivers and lakes. Most impressive, they hunted large sea mammals like seals and sea lions.

What other plants were domesticated in North America? And what does domestication mean?

Domestication means that humans have taken something wild and have tamed it. A long time ago, when people started to populate North America, they had to search for things that were good and safe to eat. When they found something that they liked they would dry the seeds and plant them in them ground year after year. This was what we call trial and error. If something worked, they would keep doing it. If something did not work, they would not repeat it. So, things like corn and wheat once looked like grass with very small seed heads.

The plants domesticated in North America include; corn (maize), common bean, lima bean, chili pepper, sweet potato, tobacco, sunflowe, papaya, pumpkin, tomato, bottle gourd, and squash.

How did they get their food?

Inuit hunted animals on land and fished through holes in the ice.
The Haida hunted in the nearby forests and mountains, fished in the oceans and rivers, gathered berries and shellfish as well as other things, and harpooned large sea mammals such as sea lions and seals.

The Huron were sedentary people who grew their own crops of corn, beans and squash. They also hunted and gathered in the nearby forests and fished in the rivers and lakes.

What do they do with the food they can't eat right away? How can they make it last through the winter? Where do they store food?

In the longhouse, corn was hung to dry. When it was dry some of the kernels were kept for next year to plant new crops. The rest was ground into corn meal. Fish and meat were hung to dry or smoked. Smoking the meat gives it a very different flavour. When the food was dried, it was then ready to be stored. On the floor of the longhouse, there were storage pits, big deep holes in the ground where food and other things were kept. Most of these were under the sleeping platforms or in the end compartments of the longhouse so no one would step on them. They also used big barrels made from bark to store their food. They always had to be on the lookout for mice because the mice would get into the storage areas and eat their food.

© Pond Inlet 1953-54 (Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Center)

The Haida stored the food that they had collected over the summer in boxes of fish oil. They also dried or smoked fish, meat and berries.

What preservation method would be the easiest in the arctic? (Hint: take a look at the picture to the right)