Survival — Native American Style

Good Morning!

I hope that you had a wonderful holiday weekend.  It was a beautiful weekend here — although I must admit that I am away from home at present and am here in Florida doing a course that is the equivalent of a year of college.  And so I spent my entire weekend inside and studying.

But how about you?  Did any of you do any camping?  You know, I listen to talk radio and it seems to me that with the instability of our marketplace right now and with food prices on a steady up trend, perhaps this isn’t such a bad subject to be talking about right now.  Now, I was going to talk about the 3rd most important thing when it comes to survival, having already discussed food and shelter — and that is clothing, but instead of that, since our economy seems unstable right now, and since food prices are ever rising, I thought we might take a moment to talk about another sort of survival tactic — one that might be more appropro to today’s situation in the world — prepareness.

Thought I might as well get this picture shown right from the start and get it out of the way, since I love it so much.  I never get tired of looking at it.  Deep sigh…

Okay, in the old days, the Indians lived off the land and rarely starved.  It wasn’t until reservation days that starvation became a real threat.  Before that time, the Indians knew what plants to look for and where to look, what animals to kill, how to kill them for food, how to jerky the meat and how to survive and live off the land.  In truth, before the last World War, most Americas were living on farms and so the Depression (I never call it the Great Depression, as I think of Great things as good things) — but the collaspe of the economy during the Depression — bad as it was, wasn’t as bad as it might be in our future because most people still lived on farms back then and knew how to grow their own food.  So, as I used to learn in the Girl Scouts, let me ask you this.  How prepared are you for a collapse are you?

Heaven forbid it ever happen.  But as my mother used to say, “You prepare for the worst and enjoy those things you stored when it doesn’t happen.”  So let’s go over a few things that might come in handy to have, just in case, okay?

1)  Food — do you have a minimum of a 1 year supply for all members of your family on hand.  These are storeable items like grains, dried fruits, canned organic veggies, nuts, baking soda, fish-liver oil, baking powder, and anything else that you can thing of to store — meat, etc.  Get them for long storage — again that’s minimum 1 year supply for every member of your family and any member of your family that in a catastrophe might come home.  : )

2)  Medical supplies.  You can’t have enough medical supplies.  Bandages, bandaids, aspirin, alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and any other medicine that you need.  For me, because I don’t take drugs, this means a year’s supply minimum of vitamins and minerals, as well as any herbs needed for medical emergencies.  And remember this is a 1 year supply for every member of your family — and those who might join you later on.

3)  Seeds — organic seeds, if you please.  The reason for heirloom, organic seeds is that the new Monsanto seeds and evern the more common hybrid seeds don’t produce seeds for replanting — and keeping seeds from year to year is vital.  Even is you live in the city, you can start a garden of some kind.  My husband and I live in the city and instead of growing a lawn, we are now growing a garden.  We are learning also that one needs to LEARN how to garden and how to keep out pests.  So far squirrels and rabbits are benefitting from our new garden.  : )

4)  An herb garden is pretty essential.  From an herb garden you can obtain many medicinal plants — like  Echinacea and Goldenseal, as well as Oregano, sage and other herbs.  And again, even if you live on the city, you can probably start a garden on the roof or on a window seal.  You might even be able to make friends with local farmers who might be able to help you through a tough time, but I would advise you to plant as much as you can for yourself and for your family.


5)  Protection.

Now, while it might be fun to have these two men riding protection for you, probably it is a good idea to have a rifle or a gun of some kind as a form of self and family protection.  Personally, I think our Founding Fathers were right in guaranteeing us the right to bear arms.  Criminals and vandals will always find a way to get guns, while the honest citizen is left unprotected and defenseless.  My huband and I belong to Frontsight, a shooting organization that teaches you not only self-protection and makes sure that you know how to place a good shot, but teaches you when to make that shot and when not to.  But not only is protection important in emergencies — to protect the lives of your family and yourself — guns are important in keeping pests like rabbits and squirrels away from your garden — guns can also bring in fresh game in case of a food shortage.  If you don’t like guns and will absolutely not have one in your household, then I would advise you to learn self-defense — hand-to-hand — and to learn to use a bow and arrow for hunting.

Okay, let’s see.  What have I left out?  There’s something that’s important that I’m not thinking of here.

Oh, yes, a subject that is dear to the pocketbook:

6)  Some sort of cash.  Now what do I mean by cash?  Some say silver or gold with lead to protect that silver or gold.  : )  Some say to invest in the Euro — just in case the dollar falls.  I will say right here and right now that this is not an area that I know much about.  And if there is some kind of castastrophe — heaven forbid — or martial law — double heaven forbid — what might people use as money?  Barter?  Gold?  Silver?  Your guess is as good as mine.  All I know is that you might want to have something on hand to barter with.

Well, now that’s all I can think of right now.  You might be able to think of other things that one might to do be prepared.  In the old days — the days of my grandparents, all families had either a full year’s supply of food on hand and/or a victory garden.  When I was growing up, almost all of my neighbors  had gardens of one kind or another — chicken coops, etc.

How about you?  Can you think of something I’ve forgotten here in order to be prepared for any sort of economical or other kind of emergency?  Do you remember the victory gardens?  Families with supplies of food on hand, just in case?  Or were you a Girl Scout and taught to always be prepared?

I’m not wishing for  this — I hope a cause for this never happens — but just in case…

And don’t forget, please visit Amazon books where you can buy my latest book, THE LAST WARRIOR. 

So come on in and let’s talk about survival.

    Click on picture to buy the book.

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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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30 thoughts on “Survival — Native American Style”

  1. I knew I had forgotten something in this preparedness list. And outside of food, it’s probably the most essential thing needed for being prepared.

    7) WATER

    That’s right. Water. I’m not sure exactly how much water you should set aside. Perhaps 25 gallons per person per month? And this is water for drinking only. No bathing, not laundry. Drinking only. It might also be a good idea to have a good water filtering system in case you need to get water from a source that you don’t know is a good one. There is such a system — completely American made — called the Berkey system. If I can find a website for it, I’ll post it. This system purifies water from even unknown water sources — and also filters out flouride (Not sure on the spelling on that), which not sure you know or not, but it’s classified as a deadly poison — more deadly than arsenic. What do you think?

    How much water do you think would be good to have on hand?

  2. Hey, thanks for shouting out my secret fears!
    Lol, I’ve thought about this before with less than pleasing results.
    I’m 25. I know nothing about farming. NOTHING.
    Hopefully collapse never comes, or I’ll be hunting out the blackberry bushes.
    Thank goodness I live near a river.

  3. Wise words, Karen. I’m woefully unprepared myself (recently tossed out some bug-infested grains and powdered milk I’d had around for 20 years and haven’t replaced them). But what a timely reminder. And another look at Adam B never hurts either.

  4. Great discussion, Karen! Here’s my contribution to it.

    Many of your heroes embody perhaps the best sort of preparation and that’s knowledge. You emphasize that pont in each of your books – the knowledge that was part of the educational process of the Indian warrior; for example, knowledge of his own culture, knowledge of his environment and the plants and animals in those environments, knowledge of tracking, erotic knowledge and yes, most importantly spiritual and ethical knowledge.

    Thus, your books demonstrate that knowledge itself is the highest form of preparation for life and paves the way for success. Thanks for sharing that lesson with us. We can all learned from the examples you provide.

    An admiring fan, David

  5. Hi Kay,

    What interesting things to think about. I agree that we need to be prepared for whatever happens because we never know. The problem most people have in this day and age is that they have no place to stockpile large amounts of supplies. People used to have cellars of some kind or basements. In the West everyone had a root cellar where they stored food. But the way homes are built now they don’t allow much storage room.

    And where do you put it where the bugs don’t get in it? My mother often talked about Depression days and how they had to sift the bugs out of the flour or meal and use it anyway. They certainly did a lot of things to survive. Mostly what got them throuh those hard times was the fact that families stuck together. Those like my parents who became migrant workers traveled together with family and shared whatever they had.

    I hope we never see another Depression because I’m not sure how we’d get through it. We’ve gotten too soft and too accustomed to luxuries.

    Lots of things to think about. Thank you for sounding the alarm. Everyday in America some institution fails. It’s scary.

    Enjoy your stay in Florida and think about the day when you go home. 🙂

  6. Hi, Kay! We’re moderately prepared–I used to have a packed pantry, but the clutter was driving my husband to distraction so we’ve worked it down a bit. The one thing I do have tons of is books! I just have to make sure the other basics are covered first 😉

  7. Hi Jessica!

    I understand. It’s not something I like to think of either. That’s why I think it’s wise to just be prepared. That way, come what may, you’re ready and don’t have to be the effect of less than pleasant circunstances.

    Thanks so much for your post. : )

  8. Hi Elizabeth!

    I have some grains, too, that I need to use before they become worm infested. Probably what I need is a cool storage. I’m not as prepared as it would seem, but I’m trying to stock away a few things, just in case.

    And hopefully, once we’re all prepared, the danger will pass unnoticed. : )

  9. Hi Linda!

    Thanks for your thoughts. It’s true, most of us don’t have the space to store these kinds of things. I remember going to my grandmother’s who didn’t have indoor plumbing and who had a root cellar. It was the house my mother grew up in and in some ways they were so much more prepared than we are today. They were poor, but they had chickens and fields full of growing vegetables and could have survived many things.

    Maybe I’ve been listening to talk radio too much, but I do think a little of preparedness goes a long way. Or maybe that’s the Girl Scout in me.

    It’s interesting to hear about your parent’s lives and how they survived the Depression. And yes, with Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae failing — well, again, I just think it’s wise to prepare and be ready and then watch as the storm passes us by. : )

  10. Hi Fedora!

    That’s great that you’re even moderately prepared. I’d say my husband and I are moderately prepared. We have seeds a plenty and a garden and some grains stored. But we have a long ways to go still. No medical supplies stored yet, etc.

    And again, I’m not trying to be alarming — I’m just trying to make the point that perhaps one might think of storing up on a few items. : )

  11. Oh goodness, Adam Beach AND Sam Elliott and Tom Selleck. Be still my heart. But seriously now…we are NOT prepared at all. Yikes. And in earthquake country yet.

    Better get my act together soon. Thanks for a timely post, Kay.

  12. Here’s a comment that came to me from Jon von Guten in my email — it has some good advice, so I thought I’d copy and paste it here:

    Thanks for the info on preparedness. Needs very broad dissem, doesn’t it!

    When we took the CERT course, one thing mentioned was to have your pet’s supplies stashed away, too.

    Items I’d include: Food, added water, 2 dishes, bedding and blanket, medications, collar, walking leash, chain or rope, and maybe a tie-down stake to pound into the ground for the chain.

    Plan on a stash of tools as you can make many makeshift repairs or basic constructions with an assortment of hand tools and nails. And always have a hand axe.


  13. Hi, Kay! I agree with Linda–we’ve all gotten too soft and an itzy bit lazy to plan ahead in case of catastrophe. But the pioneers did it as a matter of routine. I did, too, in my younger days–or at least the canned food and freezer full of beef to get us through for months.

  14. Hey Kay, very interesting post. I don’t know Adam Beach, but I know I had to stop reading for awhile when I noticed the pic of Tom and Sam. What movie is that from?

    No, I’m not prepared at all. I used to grow and can, dry or freeze everything myself. We even raised our own chickens, ducks, rabbits, goats, steers and horses. I had to pasteurize and separate goat milk everyday since our sons have a cow milk allery. But my hubby didn’t like farming so we live on a farm and buy everything.

    My hubby was an army brat was raised on military bases and if the food doesn’t come from the store, he doesn’t think it’s safe. (sigh) I swear, no one ever died yet from my canning.

  15. Hi Pam!

    Yeah, it’s something I probably wouldn’t pay much attention to either, if it weren’t for the fact that I’ve been watching food prices go up, long-standing banking institutions failing, and then I do listen to talk radio.

    And it seemed to fit so well with the theme of survival — Native American style. I think the Native American style was faith in oneself to survive on nothing but the shirt on one’s back — and to survive lushly no matter what.

  16. Hi Anita mae!

    Wow! Look at all that you used to do — it almost sounds like me nowadays — except I still live in the city. But I get my food from Farmer’s markets and do my own canning and freezing and drying and fermenting. Fermenting is a technique that has been used for thousands upon thousands of years — and it sort of went out of style — not sure why.

    Canning — bet your canning is better than anything you can buy from a store. My opinion, but usually a wife is much more careful than a factory, that doesn’t know you and doesn’t care.

    Thanks so much for the delightful post.

  17. Karen,

    Great post, unfortunately we’ve had a few incidents here in St. Louis, when supplies were needed.

    Thanks for the knock over our heads. We have good intentions but we never do it and then we’re without electricity or worse and we’re not prepared.

  18. Hi, Kay sorry I’m lat coming in had to take care of Donna, she is not doing to good. I read what you had said and you know its true then we Indians only took what was needed and used it well, when we hunted we not only used the meat we used the hides to make clothes and containers to help store water. Now you can if it is done right use rain water it is a process but you can make rain water into drinking water, I watched it done a year back, you filter and boil and filter its a process. I can look it up again. and let you know. And yes the prices of foods have gone up again I found that out this morning. I usually spend 125.00 on meats at the butchers I ended up spending 50.00 more this month. I was like man here we go again. Its strange I was talking with my mom today about getting ready for next years hurricane season I told her I want to do canning with fresh veggies and make some jerky to store and hide from the girls and here you talked about it. I’m all ears for recipes and ideas.
    Love ya Dawn

  19. Hay found my cast iron set and told mom and dad that if i can get my own house ill be setting up the back with the proper fire pit and i also told dad i need to start saving the down trees for fire wood.

  20. Hi LaShaundra!

    Yes, my husband and I were without electricity a few years ago — it was really interesting to be without it, but it was then that I realized we were completely unprepared.

    Nice to see you here LaShaundra. Your website is one of my favorites. : )

  21. Hi Dawn!

    You are quite the cook. You are so right about Indians and living off the land. And I, too, am astounded at the rising prices of food. My bread prices went from 2.99 to 4.25 for the same loaf — and it’s not even wheat — it was rye.

    I have a good beef/buffalo jerky recipe that I’ll happily share with you. Let’s email on it a bit if you’re interested. My hubby and I put some up and are storing it right now — like I said, we’re trying our best to be prepared and hope that it never, ever happens. : )

    Hope that Donna is doing okay now. Let me know.

  22. Hey – your friend here. I am sorry I haven’t written in awhile. I had to have emergency gallbladder surgery. I am fine now.
    My husband can cook in Dutch ovens and do outside cooking as well as survive off the land as he is in FCF (Frontier Christian Fellowship) group that learns to survive off the land. My youngest daughter in College is taking Outdoor cooking this year at College and will learn Dutch Oven cooking and outdoor cooking as well as shooting at clay targets. We planted a garden this year and because of rains grass did better than garden. But we have survived all summer off the garden. Problem is I did not get to can any of as it was not enough. I could not tend the garden even after planting it due to ankle fusion laying me up to May and then the gallbladder surgery. But hope to have a new garden better next year.
    I have found it hard to buy food with price of gas and find it easier to walk out to garden and get what I need. It sure has been a blessing this year.
    Barter is more than money among the Indians. Ron has learned well how to barter among the things at his FCF campouts and everyone has to have a trade of something they can barter.
    Good to see you here again.

  23. Hi Jane!

    It’s delightful to hear from you again. I’ve been wondering about you.

    So sorry about your surgery — never fun, but at least it’s over and everything is fine. Yea!

    Good thing you had a garden this year. Yes, the food prices are a little steep nowadays. I remember when my mother used to give me a dollar to go to the store and buy a loaf of bread, eggs and milk with that dollar and I still had change back. I remember when my neighbor across the street used to sell us eggs for 5 cents a dozen — I think he cut us a deal.

    Anyway, it’s wonderful to hear from you. Stay in touch, okay? : )

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