Paleo means \"ancient\" but in eastern Oregon the paleo age survived pretty much intact up til about 1850.
Paleo diets and paleo living are hot topics today. The theory is that, once upon a time, people lived the life they were biologically adapted to. Then about 10,000 years ago, agriculture began and the farmers displaced the hunters and now most of us live a life that does not really meet our innate needs."
I've seen considerable debate about just what paleo means. Much of this assumes that the last non-farming culture vanished thousands of years ago with the exception of very primitive groups who scrape a bare living in the few empty places left. This assumption is wrong. The truth is that there were examples of thriving and successful cultures who used stone tools and practiced no agriculture as recently as 200 years ago.
While some American Indian tribes did practice agriculture, I do not know of any in the Pacific northwest. In eastern Oregon there were several tribes that were active horse breeders but I have never seen any mention of any other kind of animal husbandry. We have a wealth of European accounts describing peoples whose life and culture did not change greatly from their arrival at least 14,000 years ago to the beginning of the nineteenth century.
These are quite different from the lifestyles of the few hunter-gatherer tribes on earth today. These people retain their lands in the remotest deserts and jungles or in the far north because no one else wants them. I suspect that these people were regarded as poor relations by the inhabitants of the temperate forests and plains of ten thousand years ago. The Indian tribes of eastern Oregon are a much better picture of how the stone age nomads of Europe and Asia lived. In eastern Oregon most tribes circulated over a vast area according to the seasons. Summer in the mountains, winter in the lower elevations, harvesting salmon, camas, and huckleberries each in their time. This brings to light something that most discussions of paleo diet miss: in nature, when something is in season there is more than anyone could consume and when it's gone, it's gone. Wild plums, camas, venison and fish: at one time of year they are super-abundant and at other times they are completely absent.
If you really want to eat a paleo diet, it the spring it's fish, fish. fish, in the summer it's berries, berries, berries and it the fall venison, venison, venison. And remember, that is for eastern Oregon, in other places the diet and the cycle would be different.
caption = "I have no idea whether all this would clear up one's acne but that is not the point about paleo living that interests me. The biggest difference between our lives and that of a stone age tribe is the elaborate network of laws and institutions which rule every facet of our daily existence. The Indians of eastern Oregon had no kings or armies, no priests or popes. There were chiefs and shamans but these people held their position because of who they were not because of their place in some hierarchy.
Eastern Oregon tribal life was as close to the anarchy of the political theorists as it is possible to be. While tribes had rules, they were formed by consensus and enforced by banishment. If you didn't agree, you could leave. You might not survive on your own but maybe you could. It would all be up to you. This option is still available to all of us although most do not realize it. If one is willing to surrender one's place as the Crown of Creation, to be just another kind of animal along with all the other animals on earth, they might gain in liberty what they lose in status.
Is this trade worth it? Before disease and market hunters made tribal ways impossible, many fur traders adopted Indian life. Last summer at a pow wow, I encountered group of young whites who were living off the land and had been doing so for a few years. If one wants to leave civilization, its comforts and discontents, it is easy enough to do. Most of eastern Oregon is public land. It is very lightly traveled and it takes little effort to escape notice for a very long time. I am not sure it there is a limit to how long one can camp on public lands. It might even be a permitted use although if one is concerned about licenses or permits it indicates that they do not really understand paleo life and probably are not ready to try it.
I think I could try it if I can have my books. But I wonder if this violates the paleo spirit. The common wisdom is that agriculture was the end of the nomadic hunter lifestyle. As far as I know there were no cultures with writing that did not also have cities and armies and kings. I wonder if such a thing is possible? Perhaps it wasn't corn or wheat but the apple from the tree of knowledge that ended paleo living. If that is the case, I don't think I will ever be able to make it back to the garden.
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