There’s a very good article at ICTMN about the Western Shoshone tribes and a staple of their diet, pine nuts. A staple, which is considered sacred, and is healthy, it also treated with utter disregard by non-natives, who have been using any excuse to destroy the trees.
“Everything depends on the water and the trees,” said spiritual leader Johnny Bob, from the Yomba Shoshone Tribe, as he prayed for the start of a Western Shoshone pine-nut gathering. In September, members of several bands came together in a steep-walled mountain valley in central Nevada to collect the protein- and nutrient-rich nuts that were once the mainstay of their diet.
Some people took hold of long sticks and began to knock the sticky green cones off the tops of the pinyon trees. Others gathered fallen branches to chop up for the fire in which they would later roast the cones to release the sweet, creamy nuts. These can be eaten out of hand, added to soups and stews or parched and ground for gravy or mush.
“As we collect, we are pruning the trees to ensure there are even more cones next year. We are also cleaning the forest,” explained Joseph Holley, former chairman and now council member of the Battle Mountain Band of Te-Moak Western Shoshone.
This critical food source, along with game living in the forest, began to disappear during the late 19th century, as newly arrived settlers chopped down trees for fuel over many square miles around towns and mining operations. Starting in the 20th century, these losses were amplified by the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service, which together have uprooted more than 3 million acres of pinyon-plus-juniper woodlands.
To destroy the forests, the federal agencies use tractors to drag gargantuan chains through them, ripping up everything in their path. The ruined landscapes look like the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. Sometimes, the agencies eliminate woodlands in order to increase rangeland for grazing, an activity that further damages the fragile arid lands where pinyons flourish. Scientists estimate that soil in an erosion-prone “chained” landscape may take 10,000 years to recover.
The full story is at ICTMN.