This subject has not been considered very often by mainstream scholars of North American history. And yet it emerges quite clearly from recent research that, way before the Europeans arrived, the Native North Americans in what is now US and Canada had already been expert agriculturalists, who cultivated a large variety of fruit trees. Their fruit gardens were often very large, consisting of hundreds and thousands of trees.
Even now, there are quite a few places in the US that bear the name "Indian Orchard" (the towns by this name in Massachusetts, and in Pennsylvania are best known, but there are also quite a few other smaller places, such in the Town of Guilford, Connecticut; the "Old Indian Orchard", in Vigo County, Indiana; "Indian orchards" in Onondaga County, New York, etc.). It seems like there are still quite a few "old Indian orchards" that can be found all over the US and Canada; a search on "old Indian orchard" brings in quite a few results.
These names and places still remain, often only in the memory of the oldtimers and of the local historians, but it seems like nobody wants to see the larger significance of all that... The larger significance of all that seems to have vanished in the old Memory Hole.
In any case, here's some interesting material about all that. It created quite a furious discussion in Usenet at the time but, typically, there was a lot more heat there than light. The usual deniers of the Native American creativity were there in full force.
Message: <email@example.com> From: Yuri Kuchinsky (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: lots of Native American apples Newsgroups: sci.archaeology, sci.anthropology Date: 2002-05-04 09:29:13 PST Greetings, all, Yes, it sure looks like I've stirred up quite a hornet-nest of Hyper-Diffusionists and worshippers of the Great White God Columbus here... Look at all the vitriol that they're pouring on me. In their little "minds" anything that encroaches on the Glory of their Great White God must be stomped out as soon as it appears. They are just so happy to repeat their usual mantras that the Natives were "not sophisticated enough" to domesticate apples independently. And of course they will abase themselves to the max, and will eagerly clamber aboard even a Hyper-Diffusionist bandwagon, in order to defend their White God. According to them, the Indians just couldn't wait to embrace anything that comes from the white man... so they practically _rushed_ to borrow apple cultivation from the first European settlers. Excuse me, but this is Hyper-Diffusionism plain and simple. The Indians had plenty of their own food crops, so why did they have to borrow _anything_ from anyone with "lightening speed", which is, of course, the usual mantra of the Hyper-Diffusionism. Instead, it's my view that ancient Native Americans domesticated apples independently. And here's some good new information that will go to demonstrate quite a few things. What it will demonstrate is that the Natives had _many different types of apples_, the ones that were unknown to European settlers. Also, that a great many types of apples grew in the bush, in the woods of North Carolina, and so they were fully available to be domesticated by the Native Americans, who of course knew their own woods very well... For example, take a look at this "Junaluskee Apple", [quote] Junaluskee - also called Junaliska, Junaluska Probably discovered by McDowell. In a letter to Charles Downing, McDowell wrote: "The original tree was owned by a Cherokee Chief of the above name, residing in Macon or Cherokee Co., NC. I do not now recollect which. When the state purchased of the Indians this portion of their territory, Chief Junaluskee refused to part with his lot on which grew his favorite tree. To induce him to part with it, the Commissioners agreed to allow him $50 for his apple tree." [unquote] So here we have the Indian Chief Junaluskee who obviously had a very strong attachment to his own brand of apples. If he got it from the Euros, do you think he would have been so greatly attached to it? But the Euros didn't even know of any such type of an apple! So all this information pretty well proves that the Natives cultivated apple trees prior to the White God Columbus. Look at all the different and quite unusual varieties of Indian apples that are listed in this article! Of course, genetic variability is one of those first things that the botanists look for when deciding if a crop is native to the land or not... Thus, judging by the great and well-demonstrated skills of Native American agriculturalists, it surely stands to reason that the Native Americans domesticated apples independently. Yours, Yuri. [quote] http://www.rabun.net/~phillips/variety.htm Apples and Silas McDowell McDowell grew apple trees commercially from 1833 or 1834 until 1858 when his trees were severely damaged by a killing frost. He spent more than 20 years selecting, grafting, and growing from seedlings the best native apples and developing an extensive orchard of prize stock. His orchard at its height in 1858 (the 1850 census showed that he owned 230 acres) had at least 600 trees. He is credited with discovering or developing at least 15 apple varieties. McDowell himself wrote in The North-Carolina Planter (1858, p. 126): "My new varieties, as I dragged them from their secret abodes, I wrote out the history of each, and gave it a name, generally the name of the stream on which it originated; but sometimes the name of the Indian who was the occupant of the old field where it grew . ." Some of the varieties credited to McDowell are listed below. His efforts focused primarily on winter apples, those which would keep well through the winter months. He travelled throughout southwestern North Carolina grafting apples for a number of customers, and apparently travelled as far as Asheville to perform these duties. He carried on an extensive correspondence with other apple growers in North Carolina and Georgia including Charles Downing, Jarvis van Buren, and others. He also sold trees and grafts to both the public and to other orchardists. For example, a letter from Jarvis van Buren dated Dec. 30, 1856 contained the following request: " Enclosed I send you two dollars to pay some man to go forthwith and get a bundle of grafts of the Sol Carter or Equinally and Junaluskee . . . I would like enough to graft 200 trees of each & I do not intend to sell one of them for less than 50 cents, & if I cannot get that shall set them out in my orchard, but I have no fears about it." At least two apple varieties introduced by McDowell are still in cultivation: Callasaga and Nickajack. The first record of these two varieties was apparently in a letter from Mr. Camack (Southern Cultivator, 1847:12-113, dated Dec. 1846) which mentioned that McDowell sent him 6 apples labelled Nick-A-Jack and one labelled Cullahsaga. McDowell wrote those he called Nick-a-jack were: "...from a Cherokee seedling in an Indian improvement on a branch of the Sugartown called Nick-a-jack creek or river - hence its name. The other I have given the Indian name of the Sugartown River Cullahsaga, which is in English sweet creek, or river as they have no word to distinguish the two. The Nick-a-jack you will find is a very superior apple, and with care keeps the winter through. But the Cullahsaga is, in my opinion not inferior to any apple in the Southern States. Its firmness renders it hardy and not easily injured by rough handling. It will keep until midsummer. As it ripens it becomes so highly aromatic as to be disagreeable to some tastes. It however suits mine, and, as I before stated is my favorite." Some apple varieties introduced or developed by McDowell : Cullasaga - also called Cullahsaga, Callasaja, Callasaga, and Winter Horse apple Introduced by McDowell, whose name for this apple was Cullahsaga. Jarvis van Buren said this variety was raised from the seed of a Horse apple by Miss Ann Bryson near Salem Methodist Church in Macon County, North Carolina sometime around 1830 (Southern Cultivator. XI(2): 48). It has pale yellow skin partially covered with dark red stripes and white dots. The tender yellow flesh is mildly tart to almost sweet. It was commonly grown in the late 19th century and can still be found today. Back to top Camack's Sweet* - also called Cammack's Sweet, Camak's Sweet, Camack's Winter Sweet, Grape Vine Originated in Macon County, North Carolina, possibly by McDowell. This variety was named for James Camack of Athens, Georgia the Editor of Southern Cultivator (and possibly developed by him). Camack was the first to advise McDowell to graft his trees with native seedlings which led to his first success at developing winter apples. Grown throughout the South in the late 19th century. Back to top Chestooah* - also called Chestoa, Chestooa, and Rabbit's Head Chestooah is the name McDowell used for this apple; it is often referred to by others as the Chestoa. Jarvis van Buren reported in the Southern Cultivator (Vol XVI, 1858, p 28) that this was a new variety sent to him by Silas. Introduced in the mid-1800s, it probably originated in North Carolina; trees were sold commercially during the 1860s. A good winter keeper that ripened in November and could be kept until at least January; van Buren reported that it kept until March. Described in Gardening for the South (1885) as "somewhat distorted about the calyx, so as to resemble the nose of a rabbit." Back to top Ducket* - also called Duckett McDowell mentioned this apple in 1857 (Southern Cultivator. Vol. XV: 123) but gave no information about it. It is unclear whether he developed this variety, and its origin is unknown. Calhoun (Old Southern Apples, 1995) merely states that is was a North Carolina apple still being grown near Spruce Pine, NC until about 1985. Elarkee* - also called Elarkie, Alarkee, Eluskee A juicy, yellow apple of North Carolina origin introduced by McDowell. A good winter keeper which ripened in Oct.-Nov. and was said to keep until June. Gardening for the South (1885) describes this apple as "acid when first gathered, but becomes of pleasant flavor in March and April" and states that the tree is "thrifty and very hardy". Back to top Ellijay* A cooking apple introduced by McDowell, it originated sometime before 1858 in Clarkesville, Georgia. Interestingly, the town of Ellijay, Georgia today is the center of a large apple growing region in north Georgia, but the apple which is the town's namesake is now thought to be extinct. Back to top Great Unknown* The name of this apple comes from McDowell who wrote in 1858 that he didn't know where it came from or who gave it to him. Ripening in September, this variety would keep until the end of December. Back to top Junaluskee* - also called Junaliska, Junaluska Probably discovered by McDowell. In a letter to Charles Downing, McDowell wrote: "The original tree was owned by a Cherokee Chief of the above name, residing in Macon or Cherokee Co., NC. I do not now recollect which. When the state purchased of the Indians this portion of their territory, Chief Junaluskee refused to part with his lot on which grew his favorite tree. To induce him to part with it, the Commissioners agreed to allow him $50 for his apple tree." Back to top Kittageskee* - also called Kittageskie, Kettageskie This apple is thought to have originated with the Cherokee Indians in western North Carolina. Jarvis van Buren reported in the Southern Cultivator (Vol XVI, 1858, p 28) that this was a new variety sent to him by McDowell. Calhoun (Old Southern Apples, 1995) said this variety was introduced into Georgia about 1851. Trees of this variety were reported to be healthy, dependable bearers of heavy crops. Although its apples were small, Beach (The Apples of New York, J.B. Lyon Co., Albany, 1905) said "its quality is excellent and it is attractive in appearance." H.P Gould (Orchard Fruits in the Piedmont & Blue Ridge Regions of Va. & the S. Atl. States, USDA Bull.135, 1911) stated that this is one of the surest bearers of any in the southern Piedmont with good keeping qualities. Ripened in Nov. through Feb., and the fruit kept well until April. Back to top Mattauga* Jarvis van Buren reported in the Southern Cultivator (Vol XVI, 1858, p 28) that this was a new variety sent to him by Silas. It came from near Franklin, NC and was described as a large, dark (nearly black) apple with yellow flesh and a fine, aromatic flavor. It reportedly ripened from Nov. to Feb. Back to top Maverick's Winter Sweet* McDowell mentioned that he was growing this variety in 1857 (Southern Cultivator. Vol. XV: 123). No other information is available. Nequassa* - also called Nequasse, Nequassa Sweet Originated near Franklin, Macon County, NC probably by McDowell. J. van Buren mentioned it in several letters to McDowell during 1855 and 1856 and kept Silas informed as to its growth. If McDowell is not its discoverer, he at least helped to promote the variety. Back to top Nickajack - also called many other names McDowell stated that this variety came from near Nickajack Creek, Macon County, North Carolina and that it originated with the Cherokee Indians. Although the first dissemination of this variety was by Col. Summermour of Lincoln Co., NC under the name of Winter Rose, Downing (The Fruits and Fruit Trees of America. 1872. John Wiley & Sons, New York.) credits its introduction to McDowell. Calhoun (Old Southern Apples, 1995) states that it's probable that Nickajack and Winter Rose were two different apples which closely resembled each other. Nickajack is a large apple with greenish-yellow skin flushed with light red and occasional russet patches. It is somewhat tart, and its flavor is reported to be only average. A very late season apple which ripens from November-April, it is a good keeper. According to Downing (1872), Nickajack reproduces from seed to be "so nearly identical as to be impossible to distinguish the seedling from the parent, hence one cause of so many synonyms." Back to top Sautouchee* - also called Panther Another new variety from Silas reported in the Southern Cultivator (Vol XVI, 1858, p 28) by van Buren. It was a pale yellow apple with white flesh that ripened from Nov.-Feb. van Buren said that it was "without any decided flavor" and was too acid. Calhoun (Old Southern Apples. McDonald & Woodward Pub. Co., Blacksburg, VA. 1995) lists a Santouchee (Panther or Wildcat) apple as a North Carolina apple sold from 1858 to 1877 by Georgia and North Carolina nurseries, but describes it as having "waxen white" skin "sometimes flushed pink." Calhoun further describes the taste as subacid to almost sweet. Back to top Sol Carter* This apple is of uncertain origin, but Jarvis van Buren in a letter to McDowell dated Nov. 5, 1856 requested that McDowell find a new name for the variety because there was already an apple named Carter. The Sol Carter, like the Equinetelee (ne Equinally), Iola, Batchelor, and Queen apples (among others) which McDowell at least helped distribute, is considered by some authors to be the same as the Buckingham apple which is still grown today. Back to top Tillaquah* - also called Tillaqua, Big Fruit This is another new variety from Silas reported by van Buren in the Southern Cultivator (Vol XVI, 1858, p 28). The variety is said to originated with the Cherokee Indians and was reportedly found about four miles from Franklin, NC, and Tillaquah is said to mean "big fruit" in Cherokee. Downing (The Fruits and Fruit Trees of America. John Wiley, New York. 1878) said that the fruit was "above medium" in size. The skin was yellow and nearly covered with red marbling. The flesh was yellow-red, and was described as having an "admirable flavor." This variety ripened in Nov. and would keep until March. Back to top Other Varieties McDowell stated in 1857 that he was growing Yellow Crank, Green Crank, and Vincent apples but that he knew nothing of their origin (Southern Cultivator. Vol. XV: 123). Further information awaits discovery. [unquote] Yuri Kuchinsky -=O=- We found a large number of books in these characters and, as they contained nothing in which there were not to be seen superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all, which they regretted to an amazing degree === Bishop Diego de Landa on his dealings with the Mayans.
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