Food - Plateau Indians in Olden Times
Food: Nearly half the diet of the people of the Plateau was fish. They also ate vegetables, fruits, nuts, and meat. There was a wide variety of game including deer and squirrels. The people of the Plateau used all the parts of any animal they killed – some parts for food, and other parts to make clothes and other goods.
Hunting: The hunt leader (task leader) would choose a hunt team from men in the village. Once a hunt leader had a team together, he would assign various jobs to his team members to prepare for the hunt. The hunt leader also directed the hunt in the field. There could be several hunts going on at the same time. Within the hunting party, the game killed was shared equally by all villagers. But the horns and skin belonged to the person who had killed the animal.
Fishing: Fishing parties were organized when the salmon were running. But some men were always fishing to collect food for the village. They used spears, dip nets, bag nets, reef nets made from wicker baskets, weirs and fences that allowed fish to swim in but not out. The Plateau Indians believed that no one owned the waterways. But they could own fish stations. A fish station was a great fishing hole, with a frame that caught a lot of fish. Usually 6-10 related men were the owners of a fish station. The station was passed down from generation to generation. To remove a fish from a privately owned fish station needed the permission of one of the owners. However, custom allowed old men (anyone really) to take fish from any fish station for each of their 2 meals a day. So the owners of fish stations did share.
Agriculture: The people of the Plateau did not farm as we understand farming today. They did not plant and till crops. Instead, they improved the yield of many naturally growing wild plants by pruning and weeding and burning areas as needed to encourage healthy, editable plants that anyone could harvest. This was very effective. It allowed for adequate supplies of roots, berries, nuts and other naturally growing foods for all the people of the Plateau. Most women worked the fields near their village, but overlap was common and encouraged. Nobody owned the fields. Everyone shared the benefits.