Indigenous Management of Food Resources
Before supermarkets and refrigeration
Indigenous people had to manage their food resources carefully.
They could not store food for times when fish stocks were low or
order in food from other areas. They had no access to technology
such as sonar to find schools of fish and drift nets to ensure a
maximum catch. If through mismanagement they destroyed a stream,
there was no way to restock it with animals and the tribe would
starve. If a herd of deer was killed and no young animals were left
to reproduce the deer would die, causing huge disruptions in the
Native people were experts at managing animal
population in their local area to ensure that the ecosystem stayed
in balance and future generations would always have enough food.
They existed in balance with their environment for thousands of
years because of their unique methods. An example of this can be
seen in their methods to protect fish stock including:
- designating fishing areas for groups of people
of individuals: this made sure that no area was overfished past its
limit and was always able to regenerate.
- restricting the number of fish taken so that
fish could reproduce and re-build their numbers
- declaring closed seasons: stopping fishing
when other animals such as crabs or seals were seen in large
numbers ensuring that the tribe had enough food to survive and
giving fish time to restock for the next season.
- various taboos: guaranteeing that small
species of fish were available for larger fish in the food chain,
prohibiting fishing in sacred pools:
- total avoidance: some areas of river or sea
were never fished so that there was always an area for fish to
reproduce making sure their numbers never dropped to the point of
Western Desert Aboriginals, Australia
Major water holes were always used last when
Great Basin Numa - North America
Fire was not used because the bush took too
long to regenerate and this risked long term damage to the food
chain. Antelope drives were held only every 12 years.
Montagnais - North America
After consulting with their gods a new
hunting area is chosen each year.
Aranda - Australia
Many breeding grounds were classed as sacred
and hunting could not be carried out around the area, providing a
refuge for breeding animals.
Kung Bushmen - Africa
Seasonal sources of water were always used
before permanent pools or streams allowing the environment a change
to regenerate .
Mbuti - Africa
Every part of the animal was used reducing
the number of animals that needed to be killed to provide food.
They would never kill more animals than necessary for the
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