By Kathy Antoniotti
Akron Beacon Journal
Anyone with an oak tree growing in his or her backyard knows the acorn is a favorite staple of a squirrel’s diet. In autumn, you can see them collect and store acorns for winter.
But did you know that for centuries humans also relied on the fruit of the tree for food?
In Northern California, the Miwok Acorn Festival is celebrated each year during the last week of September. The annual festival commemorates the gathering of Miwoks, a Native American tribe, for the acorn harvest.
Known as the “Big Time,” the Miwok people used the gathering to share food, exchange news and supplies and to give thanks for the tiny acorn that would sustain them through winter.
It required a lot of work to extract the meat of the nut, grind it into meal and make it ready to eat. But because the average adult consumed 2,000 pounds of acorns a year, it was necessary for the Miwoks’ existence.
By 1848, the year of the great Gold Rush, the Miwoks, who had lived on the land for centuries, were forced to abandon their ancestral land.
Each year the Miwok Acorn Festival celebrates their history at a reconstructed Miwok Village at Grinding Rock State Park, in Pine Grove, Ca.
Learn more about the history of the Miwok tribe and the Acorn Festival at Brownielocks & the 3 Bears at http://www.brownielocks.com/miwok.html on the Web.
To commemorate the celebration, I made acorn people using nuts I was able to gather a few weeks ago before the squirrels gobbled them up and some colorful silk autumn leaves for clothing.
I found directions for the dolls at http://kidscrafts.topknacks.com/documents/acornpeoplekidscrafts.html and modified the directions for our use.
Supplies you will need:
1 old-fashioned type clothespin (without a spring, available at craft stores) and stand.
Large acorn with cap removed.
Colorful silk leaves.
Yarn for hair.
Black fine-tipped marker.
Ask an adult to cut the tip of the acorn off to make it flat.
Cut a few pieces of yarn and glue to the top of the acorn. Replace cap and secure with a few drops of glue.
While the acorn dries, glue the clothespin into the stand. Start layering the leaves about three-quarters from the bottom, wrapping them to look like a gown, or through the slit in the clothespin to look like trousers. You can cut away any thick stems if necessary.
Continue covering the clothespin until you reach the top.
Draw facial features on the acorn with a black marker.
Glue the bottom of the acorn to the top of the clothespin and let dry.