Earth Day is a time for reflection on how the people who have come before us interacted with their natural surroundings. Indigenous people relied on the environment for food, clothing, spiritual guidance and renewal. Where they lived and their travel patterns were governed by the cycles of nature. Their hunting activities moved with the seasons and the migration of animals. The phases and cycles of the moon were named according to their activities at certain times of the yearly cycle. Learn about the names by clicking the link.
Indigenous Moon names
Their diet depended on the seasonal availability of food they foraged from nature. They followed the cycles of the trees to harvest maple sugar in the spring. The sugar was stored over summer and winter months to sweeten and also preserve food. They used smoking techniques to extend their food supply. They harvested and dried herbs and other plants for flavouring and medicinal purposes. Honey was gathered for sweetening and medicine.
When Indigenous people hunted, they utilized all parts of the animals. They used every part of the plants and trees they gathered and cut so that nothing was wasted. They cared for the earth as it cared for them by providing everything they needed to survive.
The settlers learned to be frugal with their resources as there was limited access to supplies. They used the sun to dry and preserve their food. Cold cellars were dug into the ground to take advantage of the natural coolness of the earth and use the cold temperature to keep food from spoiling in the summer heat. They learned to harvest and use the plants they found around them. Their diets were governed by what items were available seasonally. Their homes were built to take advantage of the southern exposure. Door yard gardens were planted to make good use of the warm temperatures beside the building. These gardens produced herbs to provide flavouring and much needed medicinal ingredients. Gardens were crucial to sustain the family and seeds were carefully kept for future crops. A few potatoes would be saved to use as seed potatoes to produce the next crop. They would be careful not to use their last seed or plant. Several plants were used to create colour for knitting and weaving projects. The Museum has an informative display of some of the materials used for natural dye.
Many decades ago, people knew how to live in harmony with the natural world around them. Today there are people who embrace sustainable environmental practices. It is definitely more challenging in the busy world we live in now. Earth Day is a perfect time to think of how what the people before us did out of necessity and how it was actually a way to live a satisfying life in harmony with nature. Take some time to enjoy the nature around you on Earth Day!
This journal is written, researched, and maintained by the volunteers of the Middleville Museum.