The Berry Latest 
Newsletter Issue: May/June 2016

US Highbush Blueberry Council E-newsletter



Native American Diet!

Above is an illustration of a Native American Food Calendar from the Pacific Northwest.  Note the abundance of berries in the diet for much of the year.   Some researchers say that Native Americans lacked many of the chronic diseases of today.  


Native American food as health is practiced even today.  Above is a quote from Pacific Northwest (Okanagan), Author Christal Quinasket (Mourning Dove). 


Blueberries and Vegetables.  

In pre-Columbian times, the early inhabitants of the North American continent consumed a diet made primarily of three vegetables: corn, beans and squash.  Local in-season fruits and gathered natural herbs and spices would supplement the diets and fresh and dried blueberries were integrated into corn cakes, squash purees and  native beans for flavor enhancement and sweetness.



Native American Inspired Foods

This product produced on the Ogala Lakota Sioux Pine Ridge Reservation contains five different native foodstuffs: dried blueberries, bison, squash, native pecan.


 Above: This sauce -- according to the manufacturer - was inspired by the Northwest Native American tradition of basting meats in pit barbeques.




Above: Sauce with two native ingredients: Blueberries and maple!



Map:Annenberg Learning Resources

A salute to those who came before,

Today's blueberry health trend began with pioneering research in the early 1990s.   From the time I began work on blueberries in the 1980s, there was always discussion about traditional uses of blueberries in North America. Many of the current health benefits which have been researched and confirmed by science -- were part of Native American life in pre-Columbian times.  In reading Daniel E. Moreman's work titled Native American Ethnobotany -- it is amazing to see how widespread blueberry consumption occurred in the daily lives of the many native tribes or First Nations.  This issue is a salute to those who came before!

- Tom Payne
USHBC Food Industry Consultant




The most common Native American/First Nation Food we know today is dried meat with blueberries or what was called Pemmican or sauthauthig (pronounced saw'-taw-teeg)  Native Americans prefered fresh meat and fresh berries and normally produced pemmican or beef jerkey as a winter or famine food.   It took too long to prepare for everyday!



Hudson Bay Company Camp Cookbook from 1800s.  " Pound a quantity of jerky until shredded. Cut fresh fat into walnut sized hunks and dry out over a slow fire or in an oven. Pour the hot fat over the shredded jerky and mix into a sausage meat-like consistency a 50/50 mix. Pack mixture into waterproof container.  Add dry blueberries."  


Recommended Reading.





North American Blueberries.

All blueberries are part of the species Vaccinium Ericaceae which are found in almost every state and province in some manner.  Besides the two prominent commercial species -- there are wild blueberries found in the forests and plains which were known and cherished. From the Arctic to the wilds of Florida, wherever these blueberries were found -- they were gathered and integrated into the diets and medicine culture of the Native Americans or First Nations of Canada.  

Throughout the 1,000 page book, 15 species of Vaccinium were documented as important to more than 300 tribes from the Inuit in the Arctic to the Seminoles in the South.  Today's commercial blueberry regions are also home to tribes such as the Algonquin, Chippewa Ojibwa, Irioquois among others.  All have their own food and medicine culture which continues today.



>Leaves of blueberry plants were dried and smoked in what the Algonquin nations called "Kinnikinnick"  (tobacco alternative)

>The Chippewa harvested blueberry blossoms and steamed them on hot rocks in sweat lodges. This treatment  was thought to encourage health and prosperity for the upcoming season.



>The Ojibwa nations infused the blueberry leaves into a tea which was considered a blood purifier.

>Blueberries were consumed by women in many tribes to gain stength especially after child birth. 

>Children were fed mashed blueberries with stems for intestinal difficulties.  >Seminoles considered blueberries to be good for eyesight.

>Irioquois applied mashed blueberries to skin to treat rashes and skin problems.



>Tribes all over North America preserved blueberries through sun drying,

>In colder climates, tribes mixed blueberries with animal fats and pressed into cakes as hunting and war rations.  

> In the Northeast, tribes soaked blueberries in maple syrup to osmotically preserve.  

>In the Southeast, tribes mashed blueberries into corn and pumpkin cakes along with harsh tasting medicinal herbs.  The blueberries helped  to mask astringent flavors.

>In the Pacific Northwest, tribes mashed and mixed blueberries with smoked fish and meats.

> In the Northwest and Alaska, blueberies were combined with fish eggs as a summer treat.

>Many tribes made soups with blueberries and included meats, fish and medicinal herbs.  





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Published by the US Highbush Blueberry Council (USHBC)

Published by USHBC- c/o Thomas J. Payne, 865 Woodside Way, San Mateo, CA 94401 Copyright © 2016