Monday, July 8, 2013

Things, Continued

Thanks to everyone who chimed in with an opinion as to the background in the previous post.  I went with D and have it appliqued on now.

It feels like it needs something else, but I can't put my finger on what.  I'll let it sit for a while to chill.  Maybe an idea will percolate.

I also liked C, the pool-like aqua background, but Norm was not a big fan.  Something else I hadn't initially considered was that it will hang on a sage green wall, so the color clash may have been a bit much with the aqua.

* * * * *
Picking up on our trip to the recreated Ojibwe village at Waswagoning, which we toured while on vacation last week.

I immediately thought of a quilt block when I saw this colorful shield at the entrance.  There was another one over the main building/gift shop in a different style, but I forgot to get a picture of that one or ask the story behind them.

Our tour guide called in a young man whose job was to demonstrate Native American fire starting using a traditional method.  He used a bow around which a pointed dowel or drill-like piece of wood is wrapped in a cord.  He held a stone in his left hand at the top of the drill and moved the bow back and forth with his right.  The reciprocating motion by drawing the bow back and forth causes friction and ultimately hot embers on the lower end of the drill, which then ignite the tinder around and beneath it.  

Traditional tinder was frayed cedar, but they have since switched to using jute (from the local hardware store), both for demonstrations and also in the fire-starting kits they sell.

In the time it took me to formulate that explanation and peck it out on the keyboard, this guy could have started three fires.  He was a pro!

The Ojibwe of Lac du Flambeau traditionally spearfished by torchlight from canoes.  Ojibwe spearfishing continues to the present day and has been the subject of controversy over treaty rights.

Ojibwe fishing spear
Lac du Flambeau translates to "Lake of the Torches" (also the name of the casino on the rez).

Here is a traditional type birch bark canoe.

I really enjoyed seeing the workmanship of the canoe.  Our tour guide told us what Native people used to sew with as lashing—pine roots!  You know, those things you trip over when you walk in the woods.  Apparently, they made good, strong "thread" for heavy-duty jobs of this sort.

Pine roots - used for sewing
The torch is made of birch bark and pitch.

It was interesting to learn how canoes were stored during the winter.  The tour leader asked if we had any guesses.  I guessed in the trees - wrong answer.  They were pulled out to the middle of the lake, loaded with stones, and sunk!  There they would remain, safe from being stolen and preserved below the ice in the depths of the frigid waters for months on end.

Fish trap
We heard about wild rice harvesting by the Ojibwe, and how young children were recruited to "dance" on the grains to break down the outer husks.  This was done inside a special pit while the elders told stories (because after about an hour, kids being kids, it wasn't so much fun anymore).  Then the rice was tossed in the air over a blanket or large piece of leather to separate the chaff.

The tour guide shared a wild rice recipe "so easy you don't even have to write it down."  Maybe not, but I heard someone repeating it into their smartphone behind me.  I am making a version of it in the oven as I type this post and I can smell it cooking.  I'll give you the details later, if it turns out (just checked it and it's got a ways to go).

These war clubs look like they could do some damage, if necessary.  

There were feathers on the end of one of the clubs (cut off in my pic).  The guide told us how they would sneak into the camp of another tribe at night, brush the feathers across the cheek of a sleeping person, and take something belonging to them.  If no one woke to the feather's touch, and on discovering the next day that something had been stolen, the tribe would lose face.  Apparently, gaining it back meant doing the same to the first tribe.  Ah, the games people play.

Spears on side of wigwam
We heard about wigwam building and saw various summer and winter camp re-creations.  Can you imagine cooking in a winter kitchen like this?

Winter cooking area
Did you know the toboggan was the traditional form of transport for northern Native people?  Same thing with the snowshoe, invented by North American indigenous people.

Underground cache for food storage
Here's your below-frost-level refrigerator, called a winter cache.

These winter wigwams could be heated with a small fire to a toasty 68-70 degrees.  I didn't ask whether the bear skin was used for decoration or insulation.  Maybe both.

In the spring, maple sap was boiled down into lumps of maple sugar and these were saved for the next winter.  When stored food was scarce or hunting was poor, it was often this supply of maple sugar that got the tribe through the end of a tough winter.  It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup, so you can imagine that's a whole lot of maple trees to be tapped to make maple sugar.

If you ever get to northern Wisconsin, I highly recommend a visit to Waswagoning.  It was a fascinating glimpse into traditional Ojibwe culture.

So that's a little taste of the tour.  How about the wild rice dish?  

It's later now and I've eaten it for supper and it was very good.  It took quite a while for the rice to get tender in the oven, so if I make it again, I will probably cook it on top of the stove and add cooked chicken toward the end of the process.  

Here's what I did.

1 cup wild rice
2 cups chicken broth + 1 cup water (total 3 cups liquid), heated to boiling
1/2 cup dried cranberries (or you could use 1 cup of fresh cranberries)
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1/2 sweet pepper, chopped
chopped fresh chives
1-2 Tablespoons butter (or butter substitute)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Layer everything in a large casserole dish and pour the hot chicken broth/water over the top.  Cover and bake until rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.  This took 1-1/2 hours for me.  Check it after about an hour and give it a stir.  If the rice isn't fully cooked yet, return it to the oven for a half hour or so.

(Write a long blog post, edit photos, talk on the phone...)

Then enjoy!


  1. The stuff you learned about is so interesting - looks to be a gorgeous spot to visit too.

  2. Wow! Thanks for sharing this trip into looking at another culture. Fascinating stuff!

  3. I wonder if you could cook that rice dish in the crock pot all day? It sounds wonderful...

  4. Mmmm. That rice dish looks yummy. And your plate is so beautiful. I've never had much luck with cooking rice in the oven. I tried a wild rice dish a month or so ago and the rice just wouldn't cook (two hours in the oven). So, I tried it again, partially cooking the rice on the stovetop before putting it in the oven. The rice started to get crispy brown and stick to the bottom of the pan and it still wasn't all the way cooked after 1 1/2 hours. But your dish looks so good that I've pinned it and am going to try it out next week. Yum. Maybe I'll try it in the crock pot, as Sarah suggested.

    Loved hearing about your tour of the Waswagoning village recreation. That fire starting business with a stick is pretty amazing. Oh, and the canoes. Wow!

    xo -E

  5. Very interesting facts about the Ojibwe...thanks for sharing.

    May I pin your recipe?:)

  6. What a neat trip! I am SO making this recipe now!


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