Tools and methods used to prepare food by Native Oregonians in precontact time


By Rachelle Giesy

Philomath High School Senior Project

May 17, 2004



"Dried camas bulbs were often ground together into flourwith this type of mortar and pestle."

Acorns and other various nuts were ground by a mortar and pestle.


Acorn picture




In order to rid the acorns of the bitter tanic acids, the acorns were leached by keeping them in running water for close to 24 hours. This was done in baskets and cloth. After being leached they were pulverized with a mortar and pestle.


Traditional basket picture


" Made of twined tule, decorated with bear grass and dyed materials."

[A picture of my poster size camas oven]

Camas ovens were often three feet deep and four to five feet in diameter. The ovens were built by digging a large pit and lining it with melon sized rocks. A fire was then built inside the pit for a few hours, then removed. Then, vegetation (ash or maple leaves) were placed over the hot rocks to create steam. The camas bulbs were then placed on the vegetation and covered with many more leaves. This was all then burried in soil and covered with animal skins to keep heat from escaping from the oven.

[Baking Camas in a Pit Oven: Ashland video sequence]

Camas ovens containing charcoal and burnt camas bulbs have been uncovered by archaeologists [LINK TO RACHELLE'S RESEARCH PAPER] in Willamette Valley. Some dating to 3,300 years old [CITE].


Mortal and pestle With digging stick

"Used to harvest foods such as camas bulbs and wapato(wild potatoe)."

[Frank describing digging stick to Bald Hill group]

[Frank describing digging stick to Ashland group]