Gatherers Role Group

Please note when selecting role groups, the Gatherers group is an alternative to the Gardeners — you cannot have both groups!

All throughout time, the work of the Gatherers has been an important part of the ongoing sustenance of many communities. Because they were dependent upon their immediate environment, native communities learned to read their surroundings. They identified, gathered and stored what was needed to ensure that their community would not only survive but, in the best of times, flourish. They knew what work needed to be done to best prepare, sow and reap the gifts of each season. In many communities, gatherers traditionally sang and prayed for plentiful harvests and when the harvest was in, they sang, danced and gave thanks for what they received. The Gatherers Group delves into the original seasonal gathering that has been practiced here for thousands of years.

Native women at Colony Ross were very skilled. In addition to carrying out their traditional gathering practices, they also learned to work with the wool from the sheep at the settlement. 

As a member of the Gatherer Role Group, you will contribute to the Colony Ross community by learning  to identify, gather and prepare natural materials available in the season(s) during which you are studying your ELP curriculum.


Gatherers Classroom Preparation –

  • (Required) Make a Nature Journal to bring to Colony Ross
  • (Required) Use the links below to choose if you are doing the acorn or cordage project on site, and prepare as needed for your chosen activity.
  • Learn to Forage. Foraging is the process of looking for, identifying and collecting plant material that will be used for a specific purpose.
  • Decide where you’ll practice foraging around your own neighborhood. Before you set out on your adventure, learn what plants you are likely to find. Most importantly, learn to identify which of these plants are poisonous and which are not. Before gathering:
    • Research how to best collect the plants before harvesting them, this includes finding out what time of year any given plant should be harvested as well as how to harvest only what you need and in a way that allows the plants to continue to grow and thrive.
    • Make sure you only take plants that you know to be safe with 100% certainty, and from an area where you know you are allowed to harvest.
    • Please refrain from foraging on State Park or Federal lands, unless you have obtained all necessary permits to do so — not an easy process! Not only do you risk incurring a hefty fine, but you are depleting a legacy being protected for all to enjoy — consider the impact on the land and its resources if everyone who visits were to take ‘just a little something’ away.
  • Research the historic role of gatherers in various communities. For example, throughout the history of this land we call, “Colony Ross,” some of the local purposes for gatherers might have included identifying and gathering: willow branches to make baskets; collecting acorns for bread or a morning porridge; a variety of plants to be used as medicine for the community; collecting ripe berries to add to your meals. Who would most likely be the gatherers at Colony Ross?
  • In addition to gathering and preparing food for their families, Native Californian women who lived at the Colony Ross probably worked in the fields for the Russian American Company. Sometimes the Company had them sew garments for the settlers. The Russians trained the women to spin yarn from the wool of the sheep at the settlement and weave blankets from it. How do you think these women felt about their role at Colony Ross?
  • Do gatherers exist today? If so, research some current examples of gatherers and compare how their lives are similar or different to gatherers throughout history.

Gatherers Classroom Preparation and Onsite Activities –

Choose one onsite activity for which you have prepared before your arrival. (See Classroom Preparations)


Gatherers Additional Information –