History of the butterfly, Part 82: More on the Crops and Habits

Continuing the letter from Major Marston in Morse, 1822:

“They return to their villages, in the month of April, and after putting their lodges in order, commence preparing the ground to receive the seed.  The number of acres cultivated by this part of the two nations, who reside at their villages in this vicinity, is supposed to be upwards of three hundred.  They usually raise form seven to eight thousand bushels of corn, besides beans, pumpkins, melons &c.,&c,  About one thousand bushels of corn they annually sell to traders and others; the remainder (except about five bushels for each family, which is taken with them,) they put into bags, and burry in holes dug in the ground, for their use in the spring and summer.

The labor of agriculture is confined principally to the women, and this is done altogether with a hoe.  In June, the greatest part of the young men go out on a summer hunt, and return in August.  While they are absent the old men and women are collecting rushes for mats, and bark to make into bags for their corn, &c. &c.

The women usually make about here hundred floor mats every summer; these mats are as handsome and durable, as those made abroad.  The twine which connects the rushes together, is made either of basswood bark, after being boiled and hammered, or the bark of the nettle; the women twist or spin it by rolling it on the knee with the hand.  Those of the able bodied men, who do not go out to hunt, are employed in digging and smelting lead at the mines on the Mississippi.  In this business a part of the women are also employed.  From four to five hundred thousand weight of this mineral is dug by them during a season; the loss in smelting of which, is about twenty-five per cent.  The most of it, however, is disposed of them in the state in which it is dug out of the mine, at about two dollars per hundred.”

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About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
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