Fishing at Indian village

6:18 p.m. on May 19, 2003 (EDT)
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Hi Guys and Gals,
Our annual flyfishing trip to the McCloud River south east of Mt Shasta was last week. Late snows have the mountain wearing a heavy ermine coat, and the run off is cold and deep. The trout are still hiding out waiting for warmer lower spring waters but smaller streams are productive. I hooked and released 6 nice rainbows one day, and my group of 6 guys must have hooked into 80 fish in 4 days - all lovingly released.
Anyway flat spots are at a premium there in Ishi"s home country and our campsite was an old village. The ground is littered with obsidian flakes from tool production. Man made flakes from working stone are obvioous to the trained eye. The former outer surface will have many individual flakes taken out of it and maybe a piece of the original outer surface of the rock. The other side will be one smooth "bulb of percussion" with obvious concentric wave marks showing where the shock wave went through it. At the top of the bulb will be a small flat surface where the rock was struck to produce the flake. Large flakes "spalls" were made into tools and arrowheads, smaller flakes are the "debitage" from working the larger flakes. A "biface" is a spall that has been further worked by removing smaller flakes to sharpen it or shape it.
When I got home I broke some obsidian cobbles and one of the - with two whacks - I had a beautiful razor sharp knife blade in about 20 seconds of work!
JimS

7:10 p.m. on May 19, 2003 (EDT)
(Guest)

Jim, beautiful area of the world. Passed through several times but never got the chance to stop and fish. Isn't that where the rural train accident occurred about 10 to 15 years ago that wiped out all life for miles of the river? If so, has it all rebounded now?

Another good location for arrowheads is Lake Almanor at Chester on the backside of Mt. Lasson when PG&E lets the lake level drop down. Lots of Indian sites under water when the lake is at its normal level.

9:30 p.m. on May 19, 2003 (EDT)
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747 forum posts

Quote:

Isn't that where the rural train accident occurred about 10 to 15 years ago that wiped out all life for miles of the river? If so, has it all rebounded now?

The upper Sacramento River has cleaned up. I believe a train car full of pesticide dumped its contents into the river. Apparently the damage was not permanent and the chemicals were washed away, however we are not supposed to eat fish from San Francisco Bay due to the total chemical poisons from all sources including mercury from gold mining a century ago. Quite shamefull really.

Thanks for the tip about Lake Almanor.
JimS

5:58 a.m. on May 20, 2003 (EDT)
(Guest)

Re: Trip at Indian village

Jim, Your trip sounded great! Camping (on an Indian village), fishing (with good luck) and finding artifacts - it just doesn't get any better than that!

There isn't much obsidian to be found here in the southeast. If one is lucky to find it it's a finished point/blade. It's not a common occurance here so I guess they were obtained through trade. I think it is more of a glass than stone and was fairly easy to work. A well executed obsidian point is truly a work of art, but then again, I've seen some nice points chipped of stone.

Now if I could only find a Clovis or Cumberland!My pride and joy is a Dalton I found about 1-1/2 miles from home and is 6,000 - 10,000 years old. It never ceases to amaze me when I pick up a point and realize that the last person to hold that point was an American Indian!

It would be interesting to go back in time and observe how they lived off the land and managed to travel ultralight and still have everything they needed.

7:34 p.m. on May 20, 2003 (EDT)
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747 forum posts
Re: Trip at Indian village

Quote:

Jim, Your trip sounded great! Camping (on an Indian village), fishing (with good luck) and finding artifacts - it just doesn't get any better than that!

Hi Jo, don't forget the good company of 5 friends, and the awesome steaks, barbequed corn, salad etc - but then I'll bet the Natives who lived there ate similarly except they also had steelhead and Deer.

Quote:

There isn't much obsidian to be found here in the southeast. It's not a common occurance here so I guess they were obtained through trade. I think it is more of a glass than stone and was fairly easy to work.

Obsidian is chemically similar to the fine white volcanic ash (which had a lot of compressed gas in it so it sort of exploded into powder) and granite (which cooled VERY slowly). Really good gem obsidian cooled underground away from oxygen, but lots of it was surface flow. The main thing is - it cooled too quickly to have crystal structure. It cooled so quickly in fact that it a bunch of molecules frozen in place with no structure at all - its argueably a plastic and it has a perfect conchoidal fracture. This perfect fracture is what makes it so workable.

I have worked an ancient mine up at Davis Creek in northeastern California for tripple flow obsidian - mahoganey, black and clear mixed - its quite beautiful. We had permits to get 500 pounds of obsidian. The road to the quarry follows the ancient Indian trail. Modern people collect for jewelry, but we collected the flakes left by others. The local indians would go up there and flake and then pack out the best ones (spalls) and the naturally occuring obsidian needles. I am going to make some points from some of it.

Quote:

A well executed obsidian point is truly a work of art,but then again, I've seen some nice points chipped of stone.

There is a scale of difficulty (the lithic scale) that goes from 1 to 5 - 5 being the most difficult to work. Guess whats rated at 1? Obsidian. The very finest tools were made from it, and its transparent or jet blackness made it perfect for cerimonial knives etc. It was transported as far south as central America presumably by backpack. It was so valuable that it was a trade item. If there are obsidian tools in your neck of the woods, they may have come from as far west as Yellowstone.

Quote:

Now if I could only find a Clovis or Cumberland!My pride and joy is a Dalton I found about 1-1/2 miles from home and is 6,000 - 10,000 years old. It never ceases to amaze me when I pick up a point and realize that the last person to hold that point was an American Indian!

Since I am part Indian (at least three ancesters including my great great grandfather), I like to hold them and think of my forefathers having made them.

Quote:

It would be interesting to go back in time and observe how they lived off the land and managed to travel ultralight and still have everything they needed.

I think ultralight is a modern term. I'll bet Indians were loaded down more like modern soldiers! I mean the more glass you carried the further it was worth going to trade it. As Bill S said - a buffalo robe weighs a LOT. On hunting trips they traveled light to swift and stealthy, but I bet there backpacks weighed forty pounds or more. They had no freeze dried food, water was difficult to carry and heavy, then there were clothes, stone working tools, a bow and arrows, a stone hatchet and knife, maybe spare footwear, etc, and none of it waaas Titanium or coated nylon - inmagine a skin tent and how heavy it was, then add forty pounds of obsidian to that...

Jo - I photographed my collection and I will send you a print or something when they are developed. Email me and give me a snail address and I will also send you some triple flow obsidian. I made a couple arrowheadds last week - one from an ancient spall cooked in one of my ancestor's campfires and it works much easier than untreated obsidian.

I am trying to get my act together to go on a "Native American" camping trip this summer. I will carry as many primitive tools and clothes etc as I can get together. We will buy some rabbits at the butcher and cook them on a stick over a campfire lit without modern tools. No gortex!!!, however feather filled blankets sounds appropriate as does leather boots.

Jim S

5:47 a.m. on May 22, 2003 (EDT)
(Guest)

Re: Obsidian

Thanks Jim. I'd love to have a sample of your obsidian. You will hear from me shortly.

11:51 a.m. on May 23, 2003 (EDT)
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1,240 forum posts
LOL. Hmmm, I need to go look up the word obsidian

this is starting to sound really racey!

11:03 a.m. on May 24, 2003 (EDT)
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747 forum posts
All the girls love big strong Indians... (;->)

Lets face it Ed - in human society - who can get enough game to feed their family - the hunters who know their obsidian.
Those of you who can't flake weapons are just not gonna get the girls... So I sent her some obsidian cause she's a nice lady who emails me and appreciates the things I say about our Indian culture. I love to camp in Indian areas and contemplate how they lived.
Jim S

11:11 a.m. on May 29, 2003 (EDT)
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1,240 forum posts
I heard that was the case, so I moved to Cleveland. n/m

nm

7:48 a.m. on May 31, 2003 (EDT)
(Guest)

Re: Very funny, Mr. G.!!! n/m

Quote:

nm

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