The acorn from the black oak, which grows in profusion on the Valley floor, became the Indian's "staff of life," was to him what bread is to the white man. From it they made mush and bread. The preparation of this mush or bread was a tedious process, requiring for its completion some twelve or thirteen implements. In the fall when the acorns were ripe they were flailed from the trees with a long pole, gathered into long cone-shaped burden baskets, and carried on the backs of the squaws to the cache or storehouses. These storehouses were built by sticking into the ground five poles about ten feet long and interlacing them with willow withes into the form of a basket some six feet deep and three feet in diameter. Into this basket the acorns were poured and the whole structure was then covered with a thatching of small pine boughs interlaced with needles pointing downward so as to shed water and to keep out squirrels, mice and birds. The top was then covered with a roof of bark to make it waterproof.
When the acorns were wanted a small hole was made in the bottom of the cache through which they were
taken as needed. They were then cracked open, the kernels removed and laid out on a platform or a large flat rock to dry in the sun. When dry they were placed in the mortars, which consisted of a number of circular holes, about four or five inches in diameter and the same in depth, worn by constant grinding in the surface of a flat rock. They were then pounded and ground by the squaws into meal or flour. This was done with a rock pestle wielded in the hands with a pounding and grinding motion. This was then placed in a sifting basket and sifted, the coarse portion being put back into the mortars for a second grinding to insure a flour of uniform fineness. When the grinding operation was completed the flour was placed in a basin made in the clean white sand of the river or lake shore. This basin was usually about three feet in diameter and quite shallow. The bottom and sides were lined with ferns or flat cedar boughs. Water was then heated by putting into the water baskets rocks heated in the fire, and this hot water poured very carefully over the flour. The water soaked through and into the sand, washing with it the bitter taste of the acorn. This operation was repeated three or four times until all the discoloration and tannin was leached from the flour, which was then removed, cleansed of adhering particles of sand, and placed in the cooking baskets. These baskets were of willow, were about sixteen inches in diameter and eighteen inches deep. Water was then mixed with the flour until a sort of paste or mush was formed. This mixture was boiled by dropping into it hot stones which
were lifted from the fire by means of two sticks used in the manner of tongs. This was continued until the mush was thoroughly cooked. It was then either eaten in that form or made into loaves of bread. This was done by placing the mush in small baskets or moulds the size of the loaf desired. These were taken to the stream and, while still hot, the loaves were rolled from the moulds into the water. This caused the loaf to become hard and so retain its shape. Bread was also made from the mush by cooking it on flat rocks that had been heated in the fire.