In responding to a recent post in General Discussions about Mystical Marks on trees, I was reminded of an account by an archeologist friend of mine. Working on the Inyo National Forest out of Bishop, California ponderosa and jeffrey pines were commonly seen forest ecosystems, overlapping and hybridizing across elevational gradients. Down around Bishop, ponderosa pines were prevalent, and higher up, jeffrey pines dominated, with hybrids in between.
My archeologist friend, Tony, said that both were important to native american indians of the area, known as Paiutes. Old ponderosa and Jeffrey pines served as hosts to the Pandora moths metamorphosing caterpillars and pupae. From a Crater Lake Nature Notes article found at:
http://www.craterlakeinstitute.com/natu ... -moths.htm,
it seems that the pupae metamorphose and eventually fall out of the bark crevices and land at the base of the tree. Paiutes, certain to be aware of the cyclical nature of life, found the pupae to be a source of nutrition, waiting to be harvested. Their solution was to dig out an inverted cone in the sandy soils often found with ponderosa and Jeffrey pines, at such an angle that the sand kept them down at where the sand met the tree base where they could be harvested.
In areas where no logging has occurred these inverted cones can still be found...I have personally seen them, as well as makeshift shelters (or perhaps storage sites for the pupae?) near such areas, made from branches and limbs laid over a depression they might have scraped away or found.
Another nutritional source for the Paiutes was found a little north along the shores of Mono Lake. Brine shrimp were seasonally abundant, and highly sought after.