KEEPIN IT GREEN!
Wampanoag people and other Tribes of the Eastern Woodlands were hunter-gatherers, and lived off the land and survived by collecting edible plants and hunting wild animals as their main source of food to sustain themselves.
Photos By Lisa Harding Tedstone – Tribal Councilor White-tailed deer buck on the Herring Pond Reservation Lands. An adult male can stand and weight 100 to 250 pounds!
HABITAT: These deer spend their time in the regenerating forests and dense-brush habitats of New England. They are also found in farmlands where crops can be browsed, as corn is a favorite. Increasingly, the white-tailed deer is found in more suburban environments as development in south-eastern Massachusetts continues to expand.
THREATS: Without their natural predators and with less people practicing a hunter-gatherer lifestyle in favor of manufactured foods, they have become more abundant than ever. This paired with a rapid decrease in suitable habitat leaves the white-tail at risk as disease comes with over-crowding and resources become scarce. These deer naturally command a home range of 800-1100 acres which is very difficult for them with the scale of development in our homelands.
White-tailed Deer – This beautiful graceful Doe was roaming around on the Herring Pond Reservation Lands. A doe can weight between 70 to 150 Pounds!
EATS: The large mature buck eats around 20 pounds of food per day, grazing on various grasses, twigs, nuts, fruits, and leaves, and mushrooms.
PREYS ON IT: Ab-originally, the deer had a natural balance of predators including wolves, black bears, coyotes, bobcats, and humans on Herring Pond land. Today, all that remains are humans and the evolving Eastern Coyote.
White-tailed deer were historically and remain today an important source of sustenance for the Herring Pond tribe.
Tribal men and women had various methods of harvesting deer. Hunting with bow and arrow was common. A strategic method used was the deer drive, where we would run long lines of fences in the shape of a V. Tribespeople would then drive the deer on foot down the funnel shaped fences where others would stand at the “pinch point” and fire arrows.
Deer were often trapped by the Wampanaog as well. Snares made of natural cordage and animal sinew were built strong enough to hold a horse and set at the entrances of fences. Other traps were set near fallen trees where deer would browse and, once triggered, would catch the deer by the leg and suspend them from predators. These traps were so effective that even a fair share of settlers had found themselves caught by them when traveling Wampanoag territory!
Animals were and are always harvested with the greatest respect and we as natives to this day take only what we need. Offerings of tobacco and celebration of thanks often followed a successful hunt.
SYMBOLISM: The raccoon symbolizes survival and adaptability as it is an efficient scavenger able to make due in a changing world.
EATS: Mostly anything! Insects, crayfish, amphibians, fish, nuts, eggs, and fruits are staples. Like many animals, raccoons will use fatty nuts like acorns and walnuts to help bulk up for the winter, but are very opportunistic and like making trips through shallow water in search of goodies.
PREYS ON IT: Large predatory birds such as eagles and owls as well as the occasional coyote.
SYMBOLISM: Intelligence, wisdom, and problem-solving, for the Red Fox’s ability to find food in difficult scenarios.
EATS: Prefers rodents and rabbits, birds, frogs, lizards, fish, berries, and insects.
PREYS ON IT: Eagles and coyotes will prey on young Red Fox. Historically, black bears and wolves were significant predators.
Natives shared stories of Black Fox sightings, which they had never been able to catch and believed to be Great Spirits.
These stories were most certainly true, and what as saw had been a rare melanistic phase of Red Fox. Keep an eye out! ik
SYMBOLISM: Cunning and perceptiveness are often associated with the Gray or “Silver Fox”
EATS: Prefers rodents and squirrels, rabbits, birds, frogs, lizards, fish, berries, eggs and insects.
PREYS ON IT: Eagles and coyotes will prey on young Gray Fox. Historically, black bears, bobcats, and wolves were significant predators.
SYMBOLISM: Alertness and preparation.
EATS: Buds, nuts, and flowers of many trees. Favorites include Oak and Beech. Mushrooms are also eaten on occasion.
PREYS ON IT: Hawks and Eagles, Foxes, Mink, Fisher, Weasels, Coyotes.
The GREAT Blue Heron FEASTING on a HERRING on the HERRING RIVER!
The Heron is part of a group of birds called “waders”
EATS: This sacred water bird The Great Blue Heron will eat almost anything within striking distance of their long beak. While fish makes up a majority of their diet, these birds stalk everything from insects to small mammals and are excellent fishers.
PREYS ON IT: Crows and raccoons eat great blue heron eggs. Hawks, eagles, and raccoons occasionally prey on adults and chicks.
HABITAT: Live all over North America. These birds can be spotted around shorelines and in shallow marshes, either slowly wading through the water or waiting patiently for their prey.
NESTING: These birds sometimes build their nests on the ground near a water’s edge, they nest mostly in colonies near water or trees. These colonies are called “heronries.” These nests can be higher than 100 or more feet off the ground and can range from five to 500 nests per colony.