Page:Life among the Apaches.djvu/223

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LIFE AMONG THE APACHES.

that their women collect all the mescal for food and intoxicating drink, that they dig all the roots, gather all the seeds, and make them into food, there will be no difficulty in perceiving that the women are their real supporters.

In some branches of the great tribe, residing on the head-waters of the Gila, and among the Mescaleros and Jicarillas, a very limited amount of planting is done, extending mainly to maize, pumpkins, squashes and beans. Their great dependence is on mescal, the roots of which are collected in quantity, and placed in a large hole dug in the ground and highly heated. The mescal roots, being deposited, are then covered with green leaves and grass, which is in turn overlaid with earth, and a steady fire kept burning on top for a whole day. After allowing the mass to remain in this impromptu oven for three days, it is unearthed, pared and eaten with great zest. It has a sweetish taste, not unlike the beet; but it is not so tender, and possesses remarkable anti-scorbutic properties. In order to make an intoxicating beverage of the mescal, the roasted root is macerated in a proportionable quantity of water, which is allowed to stand several days, when it ferments rapidly. The liquor is boiled down and produces a strongly intoxicating fluid.