In an ongoing series on survival, Native American style, I thought we would have another look at food. As you know there are three things that are needed for basic survival. Those are, food, clothing and shelter.
In my last few blogs, we’ve been discussing the first requirement of survival, food. So far we’ve looked at where to find food, what kinds of food can you find and the fact that one needs to have freedom of movement in order to find food. Today let’s have another look at another important part of food — fire. Fire is needed for cooking of course, but as you know, in a survival situation, it is also needed for warmth. Fire can also be a very needed element in keeping safe — i.e. fighting off animal like wolves. I’m not so certain fires might keep bears away, but I loved this picture.
But how to make fire without matches. Unless you are very well prepared, you might find yourself without matches. I may not be able to teach you to start a fire in this article, but we can go over it a bit. Now, most Indian tribes used the drill and twisted it by hand or with their bow, the string of the bow wrapped around the drill or wood made into a rod.
The rod would fit into a socket in a piece of wood. Placed beneath this was some tinder that could easily catch fire. The bow was held at right angles and was twisted, producing friction. The motion also would pulverize the small particles of wood, which are there to catch fire. The tinder would eventually begin to glow, meaning that it was ready to produce fire. Of course there was a very human element involved in making fire. If the bow wasn’t kept at an utter right angle with the wood, it would often slip, frustrating the person making the fire. However, with practice, most Indians could start a fire within minutes. You also have to understand that I have to get in this photo somewhere in my post. Handsome, handsome Adam Beach.
Now once the wood was ready to ignite, it was important to add oxygen, thus one blew on the embers, putting dried grass or moss on the fire in order to get it to ignite. Needless to say, the type of timber that one used was very important, also. However, this isn’t the only way to make fire.
Late at night, one might not be able to find the exact tools needed to make a fire in the way mentioned above. There was also the stone method. This requires two needed things, which one should carry at all times: 1) flint — 2) lump or crystal with iron pyrites. This kind of stone is available all over the US. All that is needed to create fire with this method is striking the stones together. Sparks will fly and one should have dried grass or dried moss available to catch those sparks, and by adding oxygen (blowing on the sparks) one can create fire.
OF course there are other ways of creating fire — one of the best is lightning. But one doesn’t always have that available on a cold, snowy night. It takes a great deal of practice, but it’s a skill that might become handy at some time or place. The Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts used to teach this skill and perhaps they still do. It’s a skill worth practicing — even if you don’t see the use of it right now. As the boy scout motto goes: “Be prepared.”
I should also note that the Indian kept his fires small and as smokeless as possible. He also scattered his ashes the next morning so as to prevent others from seeing exactly where he had been and what he was doing. It was a safety precaution.
By the time this is posted, I will most likely be on the road, and so while I might not be able to join in the discussion, I’d love to hear your camping stories. Has anyone ever had to make a fire by hand? And if you have, how did you do it? I’d also like to hear other camping stories. There was a time when being without a hair dryer was “camping” for me. So come on in and chat. And if you haven’t already picked up a copy of THE LAST WARRIOR, I would like to invite you to do so. It is on sale at bookstores everywhere.