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Ethnobotany & Architecture of the Indigenous Peoples of New Mexico
Over the next few months, we'll be posting interesting links related to our research on Ethnobotany and Architecture of the Indigenous Peoples of New Mexico here...
Cattails are found in ponded and slow moving water, and are good indicators in the semiarid New Mexico landscape of something precious to people who live off the land - access to water. The roots, shoots, pollen and seeds are edible. Cattails were also used as a fiber, and in construction: their stems are either woven together as a mat or used like a lath over the vigas to support the earthen roof covering.
Steve Brill's page on everything you EVER wanted to know about cattails, including how tasty they are...
Once plentiful along the Rio Grande, the Common Reed can grow up to ten feet tall. It can be used as an arrow shaft, smoked from, and its roots can be eaten. At Jemez, reeds were used for roof insulation.
There are several species of willow common to New Mexico, but none mroe so than the Coyote Willow, which can be identified by its silvery leaf undersurface. Willow is a favorite material for the Puebloans still... and is used in baskets, trays, firestarters, and prayersticks. Willow bark serves as aspirin, a cough suppressant, and is a soothing skin bath. It's also great for relieving thirst! Sraight willow limbs, sometimes with leaves attached, are used as a roof thatch at some pueblos. Willow branches are also woven together and used in light construction as drying racks and the tops of storage bins.
Construction and Design
The Puebloans were a stone age people, using shaped stone axes to cut trees for vigas. Firewood was collected from deadfall.
William W. Dunmire and Gail D. Tierney. Wild Plants of the Pueblo Province. UNM Press. 1995.