Odds and Ends
2 11, 11:56am
I grew up in a city (San Antonio, Texas) but it was on the edge of town where half my classmates were city-folk like me and half lived on ranches or in other rural or semi-rural areas.
In 6th grade my Social Studies/History teacher took it upon herself to "unteach" us all the lies and fairy tales we'd been taught about Native Americans up to that point in our school careers and to teach us some actual facts about them. Especially about the tribes that had inhabited central and south Texas.
We started our own gardens, where we could only grow things Native Americans would have had access to. We were divided in to nomad and agricultural tribes and built tee-pees, arrows and spears or miniature long houses and gardening tools, respectively. We were taught to make fire with no flint (I think she might have gotten in trouble for that lesson.)
The best and most memorable of all those lessons, though? We got to tan deer and javelina (also called a collared peccary. A common pig-like animal that is often hunted here) hides. We were presented with the deer and javelina skins, one of each animal for each class, that were 'cleaned' only as far as was absolutely necessary for the butcher to get the meat. I think he left a lot on when he heard about the project, honestly. There was gobs of raw meat and sinew and stuff on those hides. For this hyper-sensitive, sheltered city girl, it was a gory mess.
We used tools we'd made in the previous lessons and some that some professors from the nearby University had gotten for us. All were rough hewn stone or wood. We had to scrape the hides totally clean, tan them and so on. We had hides staked out on the school lawn for a long time while they dried, lol. With stakes we had handmade. I can't remember all the details, but I remember scraping the meat off with a specially sharpened stone until my arms and back were *killing* me and I remember smelling like deer hide for a week or two. No matter what I did I couldn't get the smell off of me.
I also remember it being my very, very favorite school project up to that point, and even now at 32 and with a college degree, it's easily in the top 3.