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Country Discussion Topics
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How do you maintain healthy skin and hair with out soap or shampoo?
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Donna    Posted 01-31-2002 at 12:34:07       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I have a question for you; I found in my Wilderness Way magizine, The question is:
How do Native people maintain clean, health skin and hair without soap or shampoo?
{Soap substitutes are not the answer, as most Natives do not use them.} {I do not know}

Cowboy Joe    Posted 02-01-2002 at 18:43:15       [Reply]  [No Email] anywhere else BUT New York City.

Ole Cuss    Posted 02-01-2002 at 11:00:47       [Reply]  [No Email]

In addition to a healthy diet, exercise, and access to fresh and pure water, Indians used many natural products in caring for their skin and hair; the particular botanicals varied depending upon the region of the country in which the tribe lived. For good skin, they might take tea infusions made from burdock or watercress; oat straw steam baths and solutions of poplar, chickweed, or calendula were used for cleansing and conditioning skin. They devised a paste of yucca and cornmeal as another conditioner. Using an extracted oil or infusion made from various plant parts, they created their own hair tonics: bear's foot, burdock, hops, magnolia, maidenhair fern, nettle, sunflower, and sweet flag. Many Indians consider grasses to be "Hair of Mother Earth" and use these for hair care. Sweet grass, sweet vernal grass, and sweet flag were often braided into the hair; the fresh or dried grass was also made into teas with which to wash and rinse hair. Maindenhair fern and bracken fern were boiled and used as a rinse to promote better hair growth. Dried fern fronds were spread where you lay your head to sleep, both for hair care and for insecticidal properties (some felt they also promoted vivid dreams). Finally, the roots of the yucca contain soaplike substances called saponins; when pounded and whipped in water, it was used as a remedy for dandruff and baldness in addition to being a general skin and hair cleanser. This illustrates that no one knew better than the Indian how to live in harmony with the natural world.

PCC-AL    Posted 02-03-2002 at 16:51:24       [Reply]  [No Email]
I am not much into Hollywood versions of the early days. From what I have read, the further back you go in time( except for the more affluent living in populated areas ), the less sanitary everyone generally lived. Among the Indians, Native Americans, or whatever you like to call them, they were not very sanitary, but neither were the whites who lived among them. The Indians living in the American west were savage and unclean. They just didn't have Indian maidens dressed in white buckskin. Now, we have "civilized" people roving the streets, robbing, killing, etc. We may need to go back to the uncivilized days.
If anyone is interested in some factual reading, I can provide so titles and authors.

Ole Cuss    Posted 02-04-2002 at 14:40:16       [Reply]  [No Email]

The old libel about "dirty, filthy, savage Indians" has been spread by white men since the Pilgrims arrived, and it is disappointing to see that some troglodytes remain unenlightened. When you live outdoors 24/7, 365 days a year, some dirt is part of the deal. A great deal of the squalor occurred after the white man restricted their movement and forced them onto reservations, whereas their previous nomadic lifetstyle allowed for changing living sites periodically so as to live at some remove from the waste and refuse of daily life. The white folks in cities just emptied their chamber pots by pouring them out into the streets and these so-called civilized citizens were killed in droves by typhoid and cholera due to their ignorance. Up until the latter part of the 19th century, even the most highly respected white surgeons didn't even know to wash their hands before performing an operation.

Hogman-------AMEN!!!!    Posted 02-06-2002 at 00:14:43       [Reply]  [No Email]
Remember a Fellow from Boston,Ya know, tha seat of civilzation back when, He would talk about tha good ole days when People would open tha window next to tha sidewalk out front,yell FORE and sling tha contents of tha chamber pot out.
Recon mabe thats got sompthun ta do with golf?
Anyway these were folks as spoke loudly of filthy heathens.
Bathing?Any doctor worth His salt said bathin would sicken Ya'n sap all Your strength. Seem ta recall tha Govner of NY state shocked Them Bostonians somthin fearce by installin a bath tub and horror of horrors usin it.

Meantime, Them filthy savages......I bet if You'd been down wind of tha folks doin tha Boston tea party tha stench woulda been overwhelmin for tha present day smeller.

Hogman    Posted 02-01-2002 at 18:49:47       [Reply]  [No Email]
And don't forget mudpacks for head lice.......

Ole Cuss    Posted 02-02-2002 at 03:06:00       [Reply]  [No Email]

The Indians' medicinal use of botanicals can fill up volumes; it is a long-time interest of mine. Two good books: "American Indian Healing Arts" by Kavasch and Baar, "Indian Herbalogy of North America" by Hutchens.

Hogman----Thank Ya kindly Sir    Posted 02-02-2002 at 03:32:24       [Reply]  [No Email]
I am making note of the books,was realy into that several years ago.
Knew an Indian fellow some years back that always claimed for every poison plant there was a cure growing close by if You knew what to look for...........He was a chemist who liked to go native. Good man ta know.

Ole Cuss    Posted 02-02-2002 at 13:31:33       [Reply]  [No Email]

If I recall correctly, I got both books mailorder from Edward R. Hamilton Booksellers, Falls River, Ct. An excellent company to deal with: tons of books at reduced prices.

IHank    Posted 02-01-2002 at 04:18:44       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Donna- I think your answer is "skinny dipping". Some years ago it worked in both mountain streams and the South China Sea. Soap was optional. The trick was to just peel off the outer layer and give the new one room to develop. I think it's called "exfoliation", or something like that. IHank

Donna    Posted 02-03-2002 at 17:27:43       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Thanks For all the great answers,

Donna    Posted 02-03-2002 at 12:07:46       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Thanks everyone!! Now I know, I knew I would get some great answers.

Salmoneye    Posted 02-01-2002 at 04:45:44       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hank has it right.
Many Native Peoples use fine sand and know where the good swimmin holes are with the sandy bottoms.
Rub it on your skin and let the water take away the dead skin.
I have even used it while in the backcountry for washing my hair...and I used to have some serious hair...

Les...hey Salmoneye    Posted 02-01-2002 at 06:50:25       [Reply]  [No Email]
How about posting that "pre-haircut" picture again for the newcomers to see.

Salmoneye...LOL    Posted 02-01-2002 at 08:05:01       [Reply]  [Send Email]

Sure Les...Here it is...My last Self Portrait in the mirror before letting the wife go to town with the clippers...

Ludwig    Posted 02-04-2002 at 08:32:41       [Reply]  [No Email]
Looks about like what I've got now....

Les...Hey again    Posted 02-01-2002 at 12:05:24       [Reply]  [No Email]
Ya look just like Sal Mineo in Tonka. Ah, I fergot, yer too young to remember that movie.

Salmoneye    Posted 02-01-2002 at 13:06:53       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I remember Sal Mineo...but not familiar with that movie though...Guess I have to look it up now...


Ole Cuss    Posted 02-02-2002 at 03:02:17       [Reply]  [No Email]

Tonka was an Indian horse, not a toy truck. Nice movie. I still have my copy of the children's book that came out with the story and photos from the movie; looks like a Little Golden Book.

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