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the country people. It is the well-known Amole, or soap-plant. It rises from a subterranean bulb, which is egg-shaped in form, two or three inches in diameter, and enveloped in a thick coating of black, matted, hair-like fibers. This bulb has the detergent properties of soap, cleaning the hands or clothing quite as well as and much more pleasantly than the coarser kinds of soap.
In Mexico and our Southwestern Territories there are several other soap-plants, of which the narrow-leaved yucca (Y. angustifolia) is the most famous, because of its wider distribution rather than its greater efficiency. Aside from baser uses it is generally employed by the Mexican women to wash their luxuriant and lustrous hair, of which the beauty is said to be largely due to this practice. The leaf pulp and the roots of the larger yucca (Y. baccata) have the same properties though to a less degree; but the most effective soap-plant of this region is the lechuguilla, of wbich the parenchyma of the leaves is thought by the inhabitants of the country where it grows to be better than the best soap for washing, and it is claimed that this portion of the leaf if dried and powdered may be made as useful an article of export as the fibers.
Still another and very different soap-plant is found in Texas and Mexico, the (soap-berry) Sapindus marginatus (Wild.). This is a tree twenty or thirty feet in beight, which bears a multitude of whitish berries as large as small cherries, and wbich have a very mild and yet efficient detergent property.
BERRIES.—The Indians are great berry-eaters. During the summer the huckleberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc., contributed largely to the subsistence of the Indians who formerly lived in the Mississippi Valley and the Eastern States; and when the white population increased, and villages and towns came near enough to offer markets, the women depended largely upon their baskets of berries for the purchase of the muslin, calico, blankets, and trinkets that soon became necessary for their happiness.
In the Far West berries are a much more important element in the commissary of the Indians, probably because they are produced there in an abundance and variety unknown in any other part of the world. The service-berry (Amelanchier Canadensis) grows throughout nearly the entire wooded region west of the Mississippi, not as a tree, but as a shrub, which forms tufts or thickets that in some regions become storehouses of delicious food. The berry is black when ripe, ovoid in form, and often balf an inch in length. It is very sweet, palatable, and nutritious, and no one need starve or suffer from bunger where it is plentiful. In places it covers mountain-slopes continuously for miles, and I have there seen thousands of acres thickly set with bushes six or eight feet high, fairly bending under the weight of fruit, which was drying up and decaying because there seemed neither insect, bird, animal, nor man to eat it.
In a great number of localities service-berries are stored for winter use by the Indians. They are gathered where most abundant, crushed and made into a paste which is spread out on bark or stones in the sun until it is thoroughly dried. It is then put in sacks, and during the winter serves to give variety to their diet which otherwise consists of flesh or dried fish.
Huckleberries. As formerly among the Eastern Indians, so now among those of the Far West the huckleberry is not only a luxury but almost a necessity. The species in the two districts are not the same : in the East the high and low blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum and V. Pennsylvanicum), and the black huckleberry (Gaylussacia resinosa), are the most useful kinds. In the West are many species, but only two which have economic importance. Of these, one is small, and resembles our V. Pennsylvanicum, but has a berry covered with bloom of a very pronounced blue color ; the juice is very red and somewhat acid. This covers glades on the slopes of the Cascade Mountains, Oregon, and the fruit is so abundant as to give a bluish color to the whole suface; this I suppose to be V. occidentalis of Gray. Another species, which does not correspond to any description yet written, but may be a form of V. Myrtillus, surpasses in the excellence and abundance of its fruit any other huckleberry of which I have knowledge. It covers great areas on the flanks of the Cascade Mountains, in Oregon, where the forest has been burned off; growing two to four feet in height, and standing close on the ground; sometimes really bending under its load of berries. These are round, half an inch in diameter, of light wine-color, and of a delicious vinous flavor. So abundant is this fruit that, sitting down in a clump of these bushes, I have filled a quart cup without changing my position. The Indians make long journeys to the localities where these berries are most abundant and gather and dry them for winter use. The drying is rapidly effected by burning one of the great fir-trees wbich, killed by fire, have been subsequently prostrated by the wind and now lie thickly strewed over the
surfaces where the berries grow. Wben this is well burned and affords a steady heat, flat stones, if they can be found, are covered with crushed berries and set up before the fire where the drying is soon effected.
Several other berries that abound in the country bordering the Columbia are gathered and stored much in the same way. Of these, that which after the huckleberries and service-berries is most used is the salal (Gaultheria shallon). This plant is as unlike our Eastern wintergreen (C. procumbens), or the closely allied but acaulescent species of Oregon (C. myrsinites), as can well be imagined. It is a decumbent shrub, of which the stem is one to two feet long, the large ovate alternate leaves so thickly set as almost to touch their edges, and hanging below are a considerable number of black, pedunculate berries, growing in the axils of the leaves. These are larger and longer than those of our wintergreen, are less aromatic, but well flavored. As the plant which bears them grows in the wooded districts so thickly set as almost to cover the ground, the quantity of fruit is very large, and it therefore becomes an important source of food to the Indians.
The small cranberry (Vaccinium oxcycoccus), is found in the bogs of Oregon as well as those of Maine, and probably stretches quite across the continent. It is used by the Indians, but is nowhere abundant, and is therefore of little value to them.
One of the most noted fruits gathered by the Indians in the Northwest is the salmon-berry (Rubus spectabilis). The bush grows to the height of eight or ten feet, bas handsome foliage, showy flowers, and a pinkish-yellow berry an inch in length, which resembles our Antwerp raspberry. It is wholesome and nutritious, and is largely used by both Indians and whites, but the taste is rather insipid, and it hardly justifies the promise of its beautiful appearance.
The Oregon grape-the fruit of two species of Berberis (B. aquifolium and B. pinnata)-affords agreeable variety to the diet of the Indians of the Northwest, and is sometimes eaten by the whites. The pretty yellow flowers, for which these plants are sometimes cultivated, are followed by clusters of deep blue, bloom-covered berries which have a sharp yet pleasant acid taste ; but they are small, and the quantity attainable in any locality is not large.
Throughout all the Rocky Mountain region the red-berried elder (Sambucus racemosa) grows as in the Eastern States and Europe, and makes its display of showy but useless berries. There, however, another species of the genus (S. glauca) has taken the place of the common elder (S. Canadensis) of the Eastern States. It is a larger plant than ours, and is sometimes loaded with black but very glaucous fruit, which is rather better than the fruit of S. Canadensis and is more used.
The buffalo-berry (Shepherdia argentea). Along the tributaries of the Missouri in Montana, of the Colorado in Utah, and San Juan in New Mexico, and in many other places throughout the Far West, may be found thickets of a somewhat spiny shrub ten to fifteen feet in height with peculiar glaucous, narrow, elliptical leaves resemhling those of the olive. This shrub in July and August is sometimes loaded with bright-red pellucid berries which have the acidity and flavor of the red currant. These berries are much used and highly esteemed by the Indians and whites, affording a most agreeable change from ordinary camp-fare, and, by their acidity, supplying a physiological want to the system.
Another closely allied plant (Eleganus argentea), and more eastern in its habits, has a larger and edible though drier and less esteemed berry. Both these are close relatives of Shepherdia Canadensis, which grows throughout the Northern United States from New England to Washington Territory, but which is a smaller and useless plant, easily distinguished by its ferruginous, scurfy leaves.
GOOSEBERRIES AND CURRANTS.-In the valley of the Mississippi and in the mountains of the Far West, a large number of species of Ribes are found whicb, for the most part would be called gooseberries, but
among them at least one should be considered as a currant. Some of these plants are showy and interesting, but they are of very little utility. Several of them fruit abundantly, but the berries are insipid or even disagreeable to the taste. In the drier portions of Oregon and Northern California a species of Ribes is very abundant and a noticeable feature in the vegetation. It forms tufts or thickets which in the late summer are loaded with red and attractive fruit, but it is only a disappointment, the flavor being flat and insipid, so that it is never eaten by man. In the mountains of Utah I have seen a large and strong species bearing in great abundance a nearly smooth, purplish-brown berry. No small fruit could be more inviting, but it is never eaten ; the taste is disagreeable, and the inhabitants have a conviction that it is poisonous.
Nuts.— The Indians of the Eastern States valued more highly, and gathered more abundantly than the whites have since done, the chestnuts, hickory-nuts, walnuts, and butternuts that are here so abundant. For these the Western Indians are compelled to content themselves with acorns and pine-nuts, for there are no chestnut nor hickory trees in all the Western country. The only nuts, indeed, to be found there are the chinquapin of Oregon (Castanopsis chrysophylla) and the nogal of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas (Juglans rupestris), the latter a perfect “black walnut,” but not larger than a boy's marble.
PINE-BAEK.-One article of subsistence sometimes employed by the Indians is only resorted to when they are driven to great straits by hunger. Around many of the watering-places in the pine-forests of Oregon and California the trees of Pinus ponderosa may be seen stripped of their bark for a space of three or four feet near the base of the trunk. This has been accomplished by cutting with a batchet a line around the tree as high up as one could conveniently reach, and another lower down, so that the bark, severed above and below, could be removed in strips. At certain seasons of the year a mucilaginous film (the liburnum) separates the bark from the wood of the trunk. Part of this film adheres to each surface and may be scraped off. The resulting mixture of mucilage-cells and half-formed wood is nutritious and not unpalatable, so that, as a last resort, it may be used as a defense against starvation. The frequency with which signs of its having been resorted to are met with is a striking indication of the uncertainties and irregularities of the supply department among savages.
SCIENCE AND REVELATION.*
BY PROFESSOR G. G. STOKES, P. R. S. N the present anniversary, which is the conclusion of my first year
of office as President of this Institute, I propose to address a few words to you bearing on the object of the Institute, and on the spirit in which, as I conceive, that object is best carried out.
The bighest aim of physical science is, as far as may be possible, to refer observed phenomena to their proximate causes. means say that this is the immediate, or even necessarily the ultimate, object of every physical investigation. Sometimes our object is to investigate facts, or to co-ordinate known facts, and endeavor to discover empirical laws. These are useful as far as they go, and may ultimately lead to the formation of theories which in the end so stand the test of what I may call cross-examination by Nature, that we become impressed with the conviction of their truth. Sometimes our object is the determination of numerical constants, with a view, it may be, to the practical application of science to the wants of life.
To illustrate what I am saying, allow me to refer to a very familiar example. From the earliest ages men must have observed the heavenly bodies. The great bulk of those brilliant points with which at night the sky is spangled when clouds permit of their being seen, retain the same relative positions night after night and year after year. But a few among them are seen to change their places relatively to the rest and to one another. The fact of this change is embodied in the very Dame, planet, by which these bodies are designated. I shall say nothing bere about the establishment of the Copernican system : I sball assume that as known and admitted. The careful observations of astronomers on the apparent places, from time to time, of these wandering bodies among the fixed stars supplied us, in the first instance, with a wide basis of isolated facts. After a vast amount of labor, Kepler at last succeeded in discovering the three famous laws which go by his name. Here, then, we have the second stage ; the vast assemblage of isolated facts are co-ordinated, and embraced in a few simple laws. As yet, however, we can not say that the idea of causation has entered in. But now Newton arises, and shows that the very same property of matter which causes an apple to fall to the earth, wbich causes our own bodies to press on the earth on which we stand, suffices to account for those laws which Kepler discovered—nay, more, those laws themselves are only very approximately true; and, when we consider the places of the planets, at times separated by a considerable interval, we are obliged to suppose that the elements of
* Presidential address delivered at the annual meeting of the Victoria Institute, on Tuesday, July 19, 1887.