How On Earth Did Native Iowans Stay Warm in This Weather?
I'm not going to lie -- damn near every time I've stepped outside over the last week I've wondered 'How in THE BLUE HELL did Natives stay warm in single-digit degree weather?'
I mean, especially with the winds howling like they did last night. There's got to be some intense level of ingenuity to this, right?
Knowing Weather Patterns
Nope, Native Americans didn't have weathermen or news stations bombarding them with information and children didn't stay up at night hoping their school cancellation would traverse across the bottom of their screen.
BUT, according to Off The Grid News, there were a few weather patterns that elders may have understood. The site lists the following examples: "If the wind was bringing clouds from the north, it meant a blizzard, if from the east, it would bring snow, but nothing too harsh. Thin clouds meant cold weather. No snow and a ring circling the moon meant it would rain within 24 hours."
Store and Transfer Heat
Upon reading a similar heading another site, I was hella confused. How would storing heat from a fire be possible? It's way more simple than you'd think.
According to The Prepared, natives would bury rocks underneath fires that were started within their teepees or other shelters. The rocks would heat up due to their proximity to the blaze and maintain the heat for extended amounts of time. The site says this: "Indians would also wrap one of these hot rocks in a leather skin and tuck it into their bed, so the heat would keep them warm under the covers during the night."
They Prepared Like Mad
Unlike us today, natives of the Great Plains couldn't go to the grocery store every few weeks to load up on goods. They had to get ready for the coming brutal winters.
According to an account on cantonasylumforinsaneindians.com, "General Alfred Sully’s 1863 retaliation against the Dakota for an uprising in 1862 says that his troops burned 500,000 pounds of 'jerked buffalo meat, food gathered for the Indians’ long winter”' over a two-day period. The melted fat “ran down the valley like a stream,” according to one observer."
They packed and preserved, along with hunting and ice-fishing during the winter months.
Layers, Layers, Layers
This one has withstood the test of time -- we do it today with winter coats, several layers of shirts, and maybe a pair of shorts underneath our sweatpants (I definitely did that in college).
The Prepared continues: "Native Americans would often use bison fur, which is well-suited for the winter because it has two layers, a tough outer layer that gives some abrasion resistance, and an insulating, inner down layer.
But other types of hides and skins were also popular, and work well since leather is good as an outer layer for trapping body heat."