Edited by Jay Scherf, AMLT Project Assistant

Mule's ears (soorokwa). Photo by Miguel Vieira, CC BY 2.0

Mule’s ears (soorokwa). Photo by Miguel Vieira, CC BY 2.0

Ascención Solórsano was a Mutsun healer and leader who had extensive knowledge of Mutsun culture, language, plant uses, and customs. In the 1920s and ’30s she shared her knowledge with John P. Harrington, an ethnographer from the Smithsonian Institute. Harrington recorded over 78,000 pages of her wisdom, which are stored at the Smithsonian. In each newsletter, we share a selection from these notes. Here are some of Ascensión’s words:

Soorokwa, mule’s ears, camer

Talves sorko, to gather mule’s ears. Sorkona, to go and gather mule’s ears

There are two types of mule’s ears, one is smaller and the other is larger, both of them are called soorokwa in the [Mutsun] language, from what I can remember. The two of them grow in the hills, but not in the brush nor under trees. They have leaves as big as one’s hand, and are ash-colored. But the garden sunflowers are very different, they grow very tall.

Before, they used to eat the stems of the mule’s ears…

They used to gather the seeds to make a good pinole.

The root of the small type of mule’s ears is as thick as one’s finger and is whitish inside.

[The mule’s ears also have medicinal uses.]






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