Milepost #905

January 3, 2019

by Ken Brafman Photo Credit: Ken Brafman

TITLE: METATE TRAIL: This week’s image comes from a real 8 x 10 black & white photo. The Metate Trail is just north of the community of Lake Arrowhead and offers a small taste of the over 500 miles of hiking opportunities in the San Bernardino National Forest. This easy, family-friendly trail will bring you to some impressive relics from our state’s Native American past. Metates were used by the Serrano Indians who lived a nomadic existence in these mountains for over 2,500 years. The grinding holes pictured were carved into large slabs of bedrock and are called “mortars.” Serrano women used “manos” (or “pestles”) to grind acorns, pinon nuts and other grain. The Serrano came to this area every spring because of the plentiful acorn crop and mild climate. To make acorn flour was a multi-step process which involved first soaking the acorns to remove their skin, then grinding them into a flour. This was then made into a meal and leached with boiling water to remove the bitterness. The resulting mush was further processed into “Wiiwish” which could then be served. Wiiwish is still consumed today by some California tribes and is prepared traditionally or by using more modern methods. The Serrano are a Native American tribe of Southern California. They call themselves the Yuhaviatam which means “people of the pines.” After a century of brutal hardships culminating in the massacre of 1866, which saw militia forces kill men, women and children, tribal leader Santos Manuel led the remaining Yuhaviatam down the mountain to safety. The reservation bearing his name was established in 1891.

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