Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Plants & People: an Evening with an Expert- Stan Rodriguez

-Anne C. Morgan, Head Curator

Stan Rodriguez talks about native plants
This Saturday our members had the exciting opportunity to enjoy an evening with Stan Rodriguez and learn more about the plants native to our region and how they are traditionally used by the Kumeyaay.  Stan is a teacher at the Kumeyaay Community College on the Sycuan reservation, and a member of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel.  Stan is known for his engaging story-telling and wide knowledge on a vast number of subjects.

For this evening, Stan spoke with 23 members about different plants that they often see when out hiking, and how they are traditionally used.  "The desert may look barren, but there is so much here when you look." he said.  "We call it the Kumeyaay grocery store."

Stan Rodriguez
He described gathering and roasting agave, which tastes "like a cross between a pineapple and a yam" and is used for fiber as well as food.   Desert cactus, like the "confounding" cholla, can be roasted easily- "but take the stickers off first!" Stan also banished the myth of the cactus as a source of water in the desert, explaining that while the plant might be edible the water found in the barrel cactus is extremely high in alkaline and toxic to drink.

The evening was capped off with a traditional Kumeyaay stick game, which will be set up for children (and adults!) to play at the museum's Shawii Day on Saturday October 11 from 2-5pm.  There was fierce competition among the adults, and we enjoyed it so much we feel sure everyone who comes on Saturday will too!

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