WISDOM FROM ASCENCIÓN
Edited by Jay Scherf, AMLT Project Assistant
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:
Reel 61.1, Frame 151.1:
‘Eenena, California blackberry, la mora, Rubus ursinus
‘eenakma, plural; ‘ense, to gather blackberries
How many blackberries there used to be in San Juan and in Gilroy; but in Aromas is where there was really a lot, and still there’s a lot there, because they haven’t cleared out the brush there yet. I used to go to gather blackberries with my mother and other women many times. Most of the time we brought jars to put the berries in and we’d line them with big alder leaves or other leaves inside, so that the berries wouldn’t get the bad flavor of the tin.
And also I saw baskets woven of tule just made there to use for gathering blackberries, just the straight tules with a hoop of whatever green branch on the top and tied together at the bottom, so that the basket came to a point at the bottom, so that it looked like a horn.
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