Cranberry is one of only three commercially grown native berries to North America (blueberries
and grapes are the other two).However, there are many other native berries to North America, including pumpkin and elderberry.
Indians of New Jersey called the cranberry "Pakim" meaning 'bitter
berry.' They used this wild red berry as a part of their food and
as a symbol of peace and friendship. The Chippawas called the cranberry
"a'ni-bimin," the Alogonquin called it "atoqua," and the Naragansetts
called it "sasemineash." Native Americans would eat it raw, mixed
in with maple sugar, or with deer meat (as a dried "Pemmican").
named the berry 'Craneberry' because the flowers looked like the
head of a sand crane, or perhaps the europeans knew of the european cranberry called Kranebarry.
were offered to the pilgrims at the first thanksgiving.
days of the clipper ships, captains kept barrels of cranberries
on board to prevent scurvy.
Cranberry history goes way back, and the native americans have stories about how the cranberry came to be on earth.
A wonderful book, called "the Legend of the Cranberry" is a nice book to read to children. Cranberries were picked wild on Cape Cod
for many years between 1655 and the early 1800's as they were found to prevent scurvy. They were a delicacy in Europe and many
barrels of berries found their way to England where they were eaten as a sweet relish with meat. Around 1810
a gentleman named Henry Hall first started to manage the wild beds by putting sand on the beds, and establishing canals to control the water levels.
Many others followed and by the late 1800's over a 1,000 acres of cultivated cranberries were grown on Cape Cod, saving the economy of the area
and providing many jobs for the citizens, especially since Cape Cod was economically poor due to over farming and movement of farmers to the West.
Over the next 100 years, cranberry farmers refined the growing techniques
and produced new, productive varieties. Marketing of cranberries moved from fresh sales to canned products and today we have
juice, dried cranberries and an assortment of varieties of products, as we find more ways to use this healthful berry". Of course, since
the public is now being concerned with eating too much sugar, food processors must find a way to reduce the sugar in cranberry juice but still
provide for the wonderful tart flavor.
To learn even more about the history of cranberries.
History of the Nantucket Lightship Basket
In 1659, when
the first white settlers came to Nantucket, a need for storage and
transportation of household wares arose. Basket making was one of
the many skills that the friendly natives taught the new settlers.
These early baskets were made with materials that were readily available
at the time; namely ash, oak, or hickory was used. These woods were
made into splints by pounding and separating along the annual rings.
This style of weaving baskets is the origin of many styles of baskets
used today. Of all these styles, perhaps the shaker baskets most readily
reflect their connection to the original methods and materials used
by the early settler.
In the 1830's,
as the whaling industry started to flourish, ships sailed further
and further from their home ports as local whale numbers dwindled.
When ships sailed into the Pacific rim, they brought back a material
used for basket construction by natives in that part of the world;
namely rattan was obtained. Rattan is a long vine-like plant that
looks much like bamboo except that it has a solid core. From this
long vine, local natives would cut the outer bark off in long strips
and use this strong, yet pliable, material for many things including
Today, this material
is better known as cane, and the pithy interior portion of the plant
is referred to as reed. The introduction of rattan to the weaving
process is one of the key elements that helped create the distinctive
look of Nantucket baskets. The other elements, solid wooden bottoms
and wooden molds were used by both the Native population, as well
as the Shakers. It was the combination of these three elements, as
well as the keen craftmanship that gave Nantucket baskets their unique
In 1856, when the first Lightship was commissioned to warn ships of the dangerous shoals off the southern shores of Nantucket,
many of the sailors took basket making materials with them to relieve themselves from the long hours of boredom. It is
from this era that the baskets received their name and reached a state of refinement that caused them to be widely sought
after. In 1945, José Reyes came to Nantucket to vacation and soon decided to stay. From his home in the Philippines,
he brought a working knowledge of rattan and a sense of imagination that led him to create the "friendship basket," or handbag;
possibly the most recognized and popular forms of this art. It is from the tradition of craftsmenship, creativity, and
ingenuity that today's weavers draw upon to create their own personal expression of the Nantucket Lightship Basket.