Native American Tools
As the whites tried to "civilize" the Native Americans, one of their goals was to teach them to farm. Some of the Indians adapted well to this lifestyle. Others, used to a nomadic life following the buffalo on the Plains and gathering fruits and vegetables, didn't like it very much. None of them were too pleased with their land they were supposed to farm: Dust Bowl Oklahoma. This is a hand-plow (it's upside down) shared among several families in the 1800s. Although each family was from a different Indian nation (there were even some white share-croppers) it was tough to get along at times. But they all chipped in to get this plow which they took turns using. Although the hand-plow was better than nothing, it was only when they finally got a hold of mule-driven plows that farming was very managable.
Life on the Indian reservations today--amazingly--isn't much better. Families often do the same thing with modern conviences that they did with the plow. Several families will chip in to buy, for example, a blender, which they all share and use to grind corn.
Indians were very creative in their tools. These sticks were used--kind of like chopsticks--to pick up hot rocks from the fire. They were then dropped into the basket which contained mushed-up corn or whatever they wanted to cook. Instead of putting the food in the fire, they put the fire in the food.
Made by Mono Indians who lived in Bishop area, CA around the turn of the century, the woven basket is made in the very rare "negative" style--light on dark instead of dark on light.
This trough metate is 800 years old but was used by South-Western (Pueblo) Indians until the 1950s. It is used to grind blue corn, the staple of their diet. Native Americans are notorious for dental problems; this innocent looking rock is the cause of it. As the corn was ground, little pieces of stone were also ground. Too small to be seen--or at least too small to be picked out--they continued the journey into the food. And, since rock wears down tooth enamel, Indians wound up with lousy teeth. Today the metate is only used for ceremonial purposes, and usually, a blender is used for everyday cooking.
This sickle was used by Navajos in the 1880s. True to their resourceful nature, they found an old white sickle and made a new handle out of sacred cottonwood.