NativeTech: Native American Technology and Art
Indigenous Plants & Native Uses in the Northeast

(Carya species)


Food: Both the Shagbark (C. ovata) and the Mockernut (C. tomentosa) hickory have edible nuts in early autumn. Pounded nut meats were boiled slowly and the resulting oil was skimmed from the surface of the water and used as butter. Nuts of the Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis) are to bitter for food and are also avoided by most animals.

Medicine: Inhaling the fumes of fresh hickory shoots placed on hot stones was used by Chippewa for convulsions.

Technology: Also known as Bow Wood for the use in making archery bows. The wood was also used by Iroquois for frames in birch bark canoe making. Splints of hickory were used to reinforce the rims of bark containers. The stripped inner bark of hickory was used for lashing. To make a rattle, a small sheet of hickory bark was folded over on itself, forming a hollow that could contain seeds or small stones. The hole in the handle was stopped up with a segment of dried corn cob.

Note: The name comes from a Native American word pawcohiccora, for a gruel made from the nuts.

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© 1994 - Tara Prindle
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