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Page 24 - The Four Lives of the Micmac Copper Pot

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1979/12/1 (272 reads)

coals, great care being taken to insure that it was thoroughly cooked before being eaten. But the main course was yet to come. "All these kinds of roasts were only an entree to arouse the appetite; in another place was the kettle, which was boiling. This kettle was of wood, made like a huge feeding-trough or stone watering-trough. To make it they took the butt of a huge tree which had fallen; they did not cut it down, not having tools fitted for that, nor had they the means to transport it; they had them ready-made in nearly all the places to which they went. "For making them, they employed stone axes, well-sharpened, and set into the end of a forked stick (where they were) well tied. With these axes they cut a little into the top of the wood at the length they wished the kettle. This done they placed fire on top and made the tree burn. When burnt about four inches in depth they removed the fire, and then with stones and huge pointed bones, as large as the thumb, they hollowed it out the best they could,' removing all the burnt part. Then they re? placed the fire, and when it was again burnt they removed it all from the inter? ior and commenced again to separate the burnt part, continuing this until their kettle was big enough for their fancy, and that was oftener too big than too little." Here, finally, is the primary cooking ves? sel that is naturally missing from the archaeological record. Denys went on to describe in detail how fire-reddened stones were used to bring the water to boil.v Almost as an afterthought, he added, "they had always a supply of soup, which was their greatest drink." Turning to Le Clercq, we find acknowledgment in his Nou? velle Relation de la Gaspesie that "many find it difficult to understand the manner in which the Indians boiled their meat be? fore they were given the use of our ket? tles, which they now find extremely con? venient. I have learned from themselves that before they obtained our kettles, they used little buckets or troughs of wood, which they filled with water; into this they threw glowing stones ..." and so on. It is highly significant that the three principal sources on the seventeenth-cen? tury Micmac all described these station? ary, tree-trunk cauldrons. Two of them, Denys and Le Clercq, took some pains to make it clear that these were utilized in olden times, before the advent of the cop? per kettle, and in light of this clarifi? cation it is conjectured that Marc Lescar? bot was spectator to an essentially abor? iginal piece of handiwork. Moreover, Les? carbot 's account has special meaning, since it is likewise a commentary on tech? nological obsolescence. The adze which, in stark contrast with other coastal Algonki? an sites, is so common in the artifactual remains of prehistoric Micmac settlements, was apparently replaced by the iron hatch? et as the preferred tool for hollowing out trunk kettles. Presumably, incidents such as this one of improvised kettle construc- CONTINUED NEXT PAGE Picnic Tables Well-water Ice Cubes Morrison's General Store WRECK COVE GEORGE'S DAIRY and LAUNDROMAT Baddeck A Reason for Living CHICKEN • ', rr CHALET K'ntudqi *'' fried 4 outlets to serve you- CANADA'S LARGEST AND BEST'NOWN RECORD STORf Rock N' Soul 'Blues N' Bluegrass Pop Vocal Pop Instrumental ??Children's '8-Tracks • Celtic (Scotish • Country • Classical • Comedy • Sound Tracks • Cassettes Blowers SL, Horth Sydney. Sydney Shopping Centre, Prince SL Sterling Road, Glace Bay CB. Shopping Plaza, Sydney River 194-3534 5M-6322 849-6689 564-6646 • 45's (Chart and Golden Oldies) • Blank Recording Tapes • Complete Catalogue Ordering • Accessories • Record Care Products VOUR MAIL ORDERS WELCOMED • Sydney Shopping Mall, Prince St. • Senator's Comer, Glace Bay OPEN 9 to 5. Mon, Tues, Weds and Sat 9 to 11, Thurs and Friday Irish) "The Only Record Store You'll Ever Need"
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