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Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Stone Boilers

Assiniboine Warrior
The Assiniboine people, also known as the Nakota and originally from the Northern Great Plains, used to boil stews using stones. In fact, the name of Assinaboine means "Stone Boilers" or "those who cook with stones." They had no technology of making earthen pots so to boil water and make stews they would dig a hole in the ground and line it with the hide of an animal making a water tight basin. They would fill it with water, add the meat and to boil it they would put red hot stones in the water. They added stones as needed to maintain a simmer.

At some point, the Stone Boilers learned to make earthen vessels and also traded with Europeans for metal pots and gave up the practice of boiling stews with hot stones. But, the most interesting part of their story is, much like is done nowadays with Brunswick stew and Burgoo, for a long time the Assiniboin preserved their tradition of boiling stews with hot rocks at public festivals where they took pleasure in cherishing and perpetuating their ancient customs.