Sunday, February 17, 2008

When Austin Was Wild...



Way back before the Armadillo... there were the Tonkawa Indians.. thanks to finding the blog of Urban Scout I have renewed my interest in what is now being called "rewilding" which is an awesome word by the way. This page about Tonkawa who were the original inhabitants of Travis County underscores everything Scout talks about and the abundance that was here to support people in harmony with the landbase and without agriculture.. notice how as civilized people took over this area, the population is dependent on agriculture in a vicious cycle that has destroyed the capacity of the land to offer its abundance freely. Money quote:

They refused to farm because they said they were wolves and wolves hunted for food and did not farm. So they got their food by hunting and gathering. This makes them hunter gatherers. They lived in a region with lots of animals to hunt. This region is still one of the best deer hunting regions in Texas. The blackland prairies at the base of the Edwards Plateau had lots of buffalo. There are huge and beautiful springs in the region too. The springs at New Braunfels and San Marcos are so big they turn into rivers. In Austin Barton Creek springs and others are huge. San Antonio also has a number of good springs. The Colorado and Guadalupe rivers run right through the Tonkawa lands. These rivers and springs have fish, crawfish and clams and mussels in them. Pecan trees grow along the rivers and streams and all over this region. So with all the animals to hunt, fish to catch and pecans to pick up the Tonkawa did not need to farm. All the springs and rivers also means there are plenty of plant foods like blackberries roots. The the Tonkawa had a good supply of food from hunting and gathering. Here is a list of the food sources from the paragraph above; deer, buffalo, fish. crawfish. mussels, pecans. blackberries, roots.

Did you know the the San Marcos, Comal and Guadalupe rivers used to have a species of crawfish in them that was as big as a lobster? These crawfish, also called prawns, were so good to eat the Anglo settlers caught almost all of them. They are now extinct in the Guadalupe and Comal rivers. A few still live in the San Marcos river.


Now there are no more wolves and no more buffalo.. one of my best friend's great-grandfather shot the last one dead in the middle of Congress Avenue way back when.. there's no more bears or antelope, just the smaller animals hiding among the urban devastation and lots and lots of deer running amok with only death dealing cars to cull their numbers.. and you don't want to eat the fish or crawdads or clams and mussels or drink the water from the springs, pecans and acorns all go to waste to be crushed underfoot while was ignore all the sustenance around us and head to the grocery store. It's a cultural and ecology travesty.

We need to Rewild Austin..

2 comments:

Dragon said...

He`(hello) Mojo Mike,
Wanishi(Thanyou) for a good post.
Its a sad tale that reads the same all across the US.
Before the Euro's came,there was game and food and a little agriculture.
My ancestors were also called the people of the Wolf. Here in South West Pa there were moose and Elk along with deer and bear... some big cats. then the soulless came and killed and killed and killed. they were not content just to fill their belly. They killed everything in their path,cut down the forests,and plowed the ground and when the soil gave out they moved a little west to start again(this is an over simplification for brevity)
The chemicals they soak the dead soil with poisons everything around.
Including them.
To my children and my children's children,I leave the following message. I am sorry for your loss....but they will never understand what I mean.

Traci said...

I'm interested in this as well. In fact my spiritual dictate for this year is to 'get to know' the land I live on - physically, magically, emotionally.