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 Starting camp fires using magnesium fire starters and others by  

Making Fire was one of the most important tasks undertaken on practically a daily basis by Native American Indians, especially if the tribe that they belonged to live a nomadic lifestyle. One of the first things to be done when setting up a new camp was to build a campfire. The campfire had many purposes and making fire ensured that the Indian camp would have heat for warmth and cooking but it also provided light and served to frighten animals and bad spirits. Fire was also used as a warning signal, similar to smoke signals.

Native American Methods of Making Fire

There were no matches and it was impractical to travel with a lighted flame, so the task of making fire was regular and had to be as quick as possible. The Native Americans generally had two basic methods for making fire:

By striking two hard pieces of stone together, such as chert or pyrites, which gave a spark, which was caught on tinder made from pine or cedar bark, dry pine needles or dry grass and blown to a flame

By rubbing two pieces of wood together, with one stick about 1 foot long with a pointed end and the other stick was only a few inches long and had several conical hollows in it. The smaller stick was placed flat on the ground and the pointed end of the other stick was placed in one of the holes and firmly whirled between the hands applying pressure. The whirling and pressure produced a fine wood dust and spark would appear. The spark was caught on tinder and blown to a flame.

The method of making fire by whirling and placing pressure on sticks was hard work and produced painful blisters.

Making fire was also an essential task when cooking was required. Before the Europeans came to North America the Native Americans did not have metals, so they did not possess pots, pans or kettles. So what methods were used for cooking food?

Some foods, such as root vegetables and shell fish, were roasted in the hot ashes or hot coals of a fire.  Pieces of meat would also be spitted on a sharp stick and hung over the fire to cook.

Making fire for could be put to good use in the preservation of foods as well. They would cure fish over an open fire and dry meat by cutting it into strips or sheets then hanging them on lines above the fire. Curing meat and fish using fire was a means of preserving the meat by using processes such as drying, salting and smoking. Dried meat was made into Pemmican.

There are many reasons and uses for  fires.  It is no different today as it was before the invention of matches or lighters on basic fire starting methods.  Today we have several ways to build a fire, using matches or a lighter is the obvious way.  But, what if you needed to build a fire as a matter of survival and you had no matches or a lighter?

Starting a fire during an emergency can save your life. The inability to build a fire can cost your life.


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