Saturday, December 27, 2008

Green Homesteading

by Doris Martin

Going green is currently being marketed as a new idea. But is it?

American Indians and homesteaders recycled not because it was popular but because it was a way of life. This lifestyle is demonstrated by rangers at Homestead National Monument each time they give the “Follow the Buffalo” program. It shows the importance of buffalo to Indians and the uses they made of all parts of the buffalo. For example, they used the skin for teepees and blankets, buffalo chips for fuel, muscles and tendons became glue, and for food. If you would like to hear this program contact Tina Miller, the education coordinator at the Monument.

Homesteaders also used their limited supplies in a variety of ways. It is sometimes referred to as “making do” An interactive exhibit at the Heritage Center demonstrates some of the uses they made of available goods. For example, small scraps of material left over after clothes were made became quilts, when beef were slaughtered the fat was used to make candles and soap, and native plants were used as medicines.

The American Frugal Housewife, by Lydia M. Child, begins with “The true economy of housekeeping is simply the art of gathering up all the fragments, so that nothing be lost. I mean fragments of time, as well as materials. Nothing should be thrown away so long as it is possible to make any use of it, however trifling that use may be; and whatever be the size of a family, every member should be employed either in earning or saving money.” It contains numerous ideas to save money and supplies and can be purchased in the bookstore at Homestead National Monument of America.

American Indians and homesteaders made the most of what they had. It sure sounds like they were going green long before it was trendy.

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