• Grinding holes in the Sierra Foothills

    by  • September 23, 2015 • Field Trip, Sierra Foothills • 6 Comments

    Looking into the Sierra Foothill’s past

    Generations ago —women would gather at these spots to grind their acorn meats.
    “That’s where they would go get to work. That’s their kitchen — they would keep that very clean,”
    “You’ll find different holes at different depths. Traditionally, they like a shallower hole to pound the acorn flour. The deeper holes maybe they’re just really, really old but they did pound some meat and some of the deeper holes they would even store things in there.”

    Grinding holes

    Grinding holes

    “The holes were always near a source of water— because the ground grits needed to have the bitter tannins leached out of them before they could be turned into flour and eaten.
    It was a communal experience at the grinding station.
    There are holes in the granite at many locations in the high country like these and around the Sierra foothills where springs and streams flowed.”
    ~~quotes by Lois Bohna, an artist and teacher

     

    Granite area in front of an old bark cabin. Next to it are the grinding holes

    Granite area in front of an old bark cabin.  Next to it are the grinding holes

    This spot is near Whiskey Falls in the Sierra National Forest, just up the mountain from my garden.

    Below the garden, about 800 feet is an expanse of flat and sloping granite upon which are another grouping of grinding holes to wonder about.  This is Mono and Chuckchansi Indian country and to think of Indian women gathering here is awe inspiring!

     

    Whiskey Fall, Sierra National Forest

    Whiskey Fall, Sierra National Forest

    Whiskey Falls are a favorite spot to take visiting family and friends.

     

    Trees grow through the hard granite rock

    Trees grow through the hard granite rock

    This expanse of granite lies south and east of the falls and along Whiskey Creek.

     

    Whiskey Creek flows through this section of granite

    Whiskey Creek flows through this section of granite

    The creek flows through steep sided granite cracks and if imagining Indian families here, would be an alarming place to bring small children.  The number of grinding holes here tells that a large group must have made their home here.

     

    Large holes filled with rain water

    Large holes filled with rain water

     

    Grinding holes situated along Whiskey Creek

    Grinding holes situated along Whiskey Creek

    Viewing and wondering about grinding holes just brings home the fact that we have life very easy in comparison.

    About

    Sue Langley, a passionate gardener and photographer lives and gardens with her husband and Corgi, Maggie on 7 acres just south of Yosemite, Zone 7 at 3000 feet. She also manages the Flea Market Gardening Facebook page and website.

    6 Responses to Grinding holes in the Sierra Foothills

    1. Susan Krzywicki
      September 25, 2015 at 10:15 am

      I love thinking about the juxtaposition of elaborate “outdoor kitchens” seen in glossy magazines and these early precursors. Really great article.

      • Sue Langley
        September 25, 2015 at 12:00 pm

        Yes, now THERE’S a contrast, huh? Good point!
        I’d like to add a bit more info to this article, but wanted to get it out there when I spotted these photos in my files.

    2. September 25, 2015 at 11:26 am

      This is a lovely post. The landscape is such an interesting text, isn’t it, when we know how to read it.

      • Sue Langley
        September 25, 2015 at 12:03 pm

        Yes, these huge expanses of granite face are fascinating with all their cracks and plants growing up through,…and I imagine from a woman’s standpoint easier to sweep and keep clean for food preparation. Hard on the knees??

    3. Shawn Hatfield
      September 28, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      Miss Langley , are You of Native American descent ? These grinding rocks are very sacred , the location of such places should not be revealed . There are so many non Natives that do not respect Our sacred sites !!! Many of Our sites have been raided by others who dig or look to find Our artifacts . I am asking you to not give out the location of these sites and Respect Our People and Our Sacred Grounds , PLEASE !!!

      • Sue Langley
        September 28, 2015 at 6:48 pm

        Thank you for your input, Shawn. Because of the prevalence of oaks,granite and Native Americans in our part of the Sierra foothills, grinding rocks are very common and part of our local culture, no matter what your race.

        Grinding rocks are the centerpiece of Indian Grinding Rock State Historic Park and Chaw’Se Regional Indian Museum, in Pine Grove, CA, a place where visitors come to learn about Miwok culture. Their motto, ‘Through knowledge comes understanding, and through understanding comes respect.’

        I do understand your desire to keep the sacredness of this evidence of our local history and notice that the exact location isn’t given, only the area.

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