Why Cranberries Are Red

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bach2yoga

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I found this legend today in a book at the Atlantic County Park in Estell Manor, thought it was an interesting fable, and since cranberries have been a favorite topic of recent...

Legend of the Indians--Why Cranberries Are Red
from Absegami Annals by Alfred Heston

Among the products of "The Pines" the cranberry is of the greatest commercial value. This berry thrives in marshy places and near ponds of fresh water. The Indians who once inhabited this section of Scheyechbi, or New Jersey, had the following legend about the cranberry:

Long ago, in time almost forgotten, when the Indians and the Great Spirit knew each other better, when the Great Spirit would appear and talk with the wise men of the Indians, ya da ya da ya da... anyway...
The yah-qua-whee or mastodon was placed here for the benefit of the Indians and was intended as a beast of burden. The great animal rebelled. He was fierce, powerful and invincible, his skin being so strong and hard that the sharpest spears and arrows could scarcely penetrate it. The mastodon made war against all the other animals that dwelt in the woods....
A final battle was ordered and all the beasts of the forest arrayed themselves against the mastodon. The Indians were also to take part in this decisive battle, if necessary, for the Great Spirit had told them they must annihilate the mastodon.
The slaughter was terrific. The mastodons were likely to be victorious. The valleys ran with blood. The battlefield became a great mire, and many of the mastodons, by their great weight, sank into the mire and were suffocated or drowned.
The Great Spirit became angry at the mastodons, and from the top of the hill hurled bolts of lightning at them until he killed them all, except one large bull, who cast aside the bolts of lightning with his tusks and defied everything, killing many of the other animals in his rage, until at last he was wounded. Then he bounded over the country, crossed the Delaware, the Susquehanna and the Ohio, swam the Great Lakes and went to the far north, where he lived until the white man came.
Traces of that battle may be seen yet--so says the legend. The marshes and mires are still there, and beneath them the bones of the mastodons, as well as those of many other animals.
There was a terrible slaughter of animals, and the Indians grieved much at the loss of so much food. The Great Spirit, in remembrance of that day and out of compassion for the unfortunate Indians--so says the legend--caused the cranberry to come and grow in the marshes, to be used as food. Its coat is always bathed in blood, in remembrance of that awful battle.
It is a historical fact that the bones of the mastodon are usually found in marshy places. The first complete skeleton was procured in 1801 from the morass of Orange County, NY, north of the New Jersey line.
 

Teegate

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Sep 17, 2002
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It makes we not want to eat Cranberrys again. All that blood and gore...yuk.

Nice article. Thanks for posting it.

Guy
 

bobpbx

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bach2yoga said:
It is a historical fact that the bones of the mastodon are usually found in marshy places. The first complete skeleton was procured in 1801 from the morass of Orange County, NY, north of the New Jersey line.

That is a neat legend. Regarding the marshes in SJ, the acidity I believe would destroy the bones in quick order. That is one reason the skeletons of indians are scarce in these parts and on the edge of the pines.
 

Ben Ruset

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BobM said:
That is a neat legend. Regarding the marshes in SJ, the acidity I believe would destroy the bones in quick order. That is one reason the skeletons of indians are scarce in these parts and on the edge of the pines.

Why? Did the Indians just put their dead in bogs?
 

bobpbx

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Indian Bones

Actually, most of the archeological evidence suggests that the archaic people who used this area prior to the time of Christ made camps (some temporary) around pingos, which are (were) small bodies of water created by the upheaval of permafrost. These small bodies of water provided a good environmental setting as a base during hunting, food gathering, and other exploitation.

As time went on, the pingos dried up and began to fill in with marsh type plants to the point where they are either dried up or swampy today.

Therefore, it is more likely that any bodies to be found may have been around these areas.
 

strom

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Apr 24, 2004
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Have Been Looking For Native Indian Relics For Sixty Years.........never Found A One......yet, I Told One Of My Sixth Grade Classes One Year That A Nearby Stream Was A Popular Indian Crossing........lo And Behold, The Next Week, One Of The Special Needs Boys, Retarded In The Old Vocabulary, Came To Me With A Superb Black Flint Arrowhead He Had Found Where I Had Spoken Of.
Black Flint Of Course Is Not Found In Southern Nj..........it Was Obviously Carried By Some Early Indian From Trade In The Quarry Pits Of Pennsylvania Or Northern Nj.............some Texts Mention The Shores Of Cedar Creek Having Had Some Indian Finds..........although These Are Old Texts Indeed..........let Me Know If You Have Ever Found Anything.........strom
 
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