Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Survival Resources 9: Primitive Skills

(For regular readers: Again, I'm sorry about the long delays between posts. I have been busy with other things--and then I got sick. I have a lot to write on--just less time to write it. I'm hoping that may change in the future but we'll see. Meanwhile the posts will be coming out s-l-o-w-l-y.)

A lot of what I have been writing about in the most recent, back-to-nature posts can be referred to as 'primitive skills'; that is, simple ways of working with nature that hunter-gatherer people and others knew, but 'modern' folks have little knowledge of.

Wikipedia claims: "Primitive skills is a term used by naturists and 'back-to-the-landers' that refers to prehistoric handicrafts and pre-industrial technology. Primitive skills are those skills that relate to living off the land, often using handcrafted tools made from naturally gathered materials. Examples of primitive skills include: gathering and foraging native plants and animals for food, skinning and preparing game, basketry and pot making, constructing shelters, fire making, and useful plant identification."

The question is where can we learn these skills that our ancestors knew so well? Unsurprisingly, a number of schools have sprung up willing to teach them. Maine Primitive Skills School (in Augusta, Maine), is a key one near me. There are also lots of internet resources for this, including Primitive Ways, Primitive Outdoor Skills (from NatureSkills.Com), and The Society of Primitive Technology. There is even a website just devoted to Links to "every Primitive Skills site on the Net".

And, of course, there are lots of useful books as well. I went looking for my copy of Tom Brown's Field Guide to Living with the Earth which I was going to review but seems to have gotten lost while I was sick, but there are a bunch of books like this. Tom Brown has several others, as does Thomas Elpel. Wilderness Survival by Mark Elbroch and Mike Pewtherer, which I reviewed in my last post has bunch of short essays on varius primitive skill.

The point is relearning these skills. And, of course, the point is to learn them and then practice, practice, practice. Slowly we may reintroduce these skills to the world.

Quote of the Day: "According to anthropologist Stanley Diamond, the average man of the hunter-gatherer-pastoral African Nama people is 'an expert hunter, a keen observer of nature, a craftsman who can make a kit bag of tools and weapons, a herder who knows the habits and needs of cattle, a direct participant in a variety of tribal rituals and ceremonies, and his is likely to be well-versed in the legends, tales, and proverbs of his people.' Diamond goes on to say, 'The average primitive... is more accomplished, in the literal sense of that term, than are most civilized individuals.'" - Chellis Glendinning


Austan said...

These lost and/or forgotten skills are important to basic survival. I know too many young peep who don't even know how to cook or sew; now I appreciate all that my parents made me learn. Thanks.

MoonRaven said...

You are absolutely right--many folks don't even know how to cook or sew, nevermind starting a fire or building shelter. Every skill we learn (or relearn) will help us all survive better.

Thanks for your comment.

Jerry said...

Ive been buying the Tom Brown books.

Hope you`re feeling better!

MoonRaven said...

Thank you, I am.

I hope things are going well for you.