Video:Tribe artificially increases wishi population

BY WILL CHAVEZ
Assistant Editor – @cp_wchavez
10/06/2009 07:08 AM
Video with default Cherokee Phoenix Frame
Main Cherokee Phoenix
wishi-H
KANSAS, Okla. – In a wooded area on Cherokee Nation trust land, two men from the tribe’s Natural Resources department give Mother Nature some help with growing wishi (or wissy) mushrooms.

The maitake mushroom, also known as grifola frondosa, is considered a delicacy by many Cherokee people who find them growing near the base of hardwood trees. Also known as the “Hen of the Woods,” the large mushrooms have brown caps and white undersides and usually grow in clusters at the base of red oak trees in northeastern Oklahoma.

Natural Resources Acting Director Pat Gwin and Natural Resources specialist Mark Dunham spent time in September drilling small holes at the base of trees, where roots connect, and placing plugs containing grifola frondosa in the hole before sealing them with wax.

Gwin said wishi is a fungus that grows in the roots of trees. In northeastern Oklahoma, it mainly grows in red oak trees. As an experiment, Gwin and Dunham placed capsules in various trees, including chinquapin oak, green ash, post oak, hickory, white hickory, black walnut, sugar maple, elm and ash.

“Because it’s so difficult to find these things (mushrooms), we basically wanted to see if we could artificially increase the population,” Gwin said.

The tribe bought 300 plugs containing grifola frondosa from a company in the state of Washington. The plugs needed to be placed in the trees during a period of high moisture that’s not followed by hot weather and a month before the first frost, Gwin said, which usually occurs in northeastern Oklahoma in early to mid-November. The conditions in September were ideal because the area received heavy rainfall.

Six different sites in Adair, Cherokee and Delaware counties were chosen for the wishi mushroom experiment because those counties have a large population of mature red oak trees.



















 Grifola<br />frondosa also known to Cherokee people as wishi (Courtesy photo)
Grifola frondosa also known to Cherokee people
as wishi (Courtesy photo)



Gwin said he expects the capsules to produce wishi in two to three years and that he used a global positioning system or GPS to mark each location where the capsules were left. He said he and his staff plan to visit the locations to check on the plugs’ progress.

“The fungus will become mature. It will send out its reproductive part, the great big wishi, and then it can be harvested. The actual wishi that people pick, that’s just the flower of the plan,” he said. “It’s really the third year when we’re looking to find something.”

He said wishi mushrooms clusters can grow large enough to fill a four-gallon washtub. The proper way to pick it is to cut it off its base and not pull it off.

To prepare it for eating, he said, it should be boiled two or three times to remove the bugs and dirt. After that it is cut up, salted and floured and deep-fried.

“Several years ago a number of elders had wishi trees, and with wishi trees the locations are kept secret and passed down to their family. I was lucky to have a few trees passed down to me. A lot of those trees have died,” he said. “Several years of drought have wreaked havoc on the wishi population. What we’re really trying is get those numbers back up.”
 
Reach Staff Writer Will Chavez at (918) 207-3961 or will-chavez@cherokee.org
ᏣᎳᎩ

ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢ ᎠᏂᎶᎾᏍᏗᏍᎬ ᎧᏁᏉᎠ ᏫᏏ ᎠᏁᎲ

ᎢᎪᏗ ᎦᏅᎯᏓ, ᎣᎦᎳᎰᎹ.- ᎢᎾ ᎢᎾᎨ ᏗᎨᏒ ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᏰᎵ ᎠᎨᏅᏓ ᎦᏓ ᎠᎲᎢ, ᎠᏂᏔᎵᎭ ᎠᏂᏍᎦᏯ Ꮎ ᎠᏂᏅᏍᏓᏢ ᎡᎶᎯ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏅ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏒ ᏗᎦᎸᏫᏍᏓᏁᏗ ᎠᏂᏁ ᎢᎩᏥ ᏁᎯᏴ ᎠᏂᏍᏕᎵᎲ ᏫᏏ ᏓᏛᎯᏍᏗᏍᎬ (ᎠᎴ ᏫᏏᏊ) ᏓᏬᎵ.



ᎾᏅ Maitake ᏓᏬᎵ, ᎠᎴᏍᏊ ᎪᏟᏍᏗ grifola frondosa, ᏧᏄᎪᏔᏅ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎠᎩᏍᏗ. ᎤᏂᎪᏗ ᎠᏂᏣᎳᎩ ᏴᏫ ᏓᏂᎾᏮᏘᎰ ᎾᏅ ᎠᏛᏍᎪᎢ ᎾᎥᎢ ᏗᏍᏓᏯ ᎠᏓ ᏕᏡᎬᎢ ᎾᏅ ᎡᎳᏗ, ᎠᎴᏍᏊ ᎪᏟᏍᏗ “ᎠᏥᏔᎦ ᎠᎩᏌ ᎾᏅ ᎢᎾᎨ ᎡᎯ,” ᎾᏍᎩ ᎤᏪᏩᏨ ᏓᏬᎵ ᎤᏬᏗᎨ ᎠᎴ ᎤᏁᎦ ᎨᏐ ᎭᏫᎾᏗᏜ ᎠᎴ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎨᏒ ᎤᏓᏢᎪᎢ ᎾᏅ ᎡᎳᏗ ᎠᏓᏯ ᏕᏡᎬᎢ ᎾᏅ ᎤᏴᏢ ᎧᎸᎬᎢᏗᏜ ᎣᎦᎳᎶᎹ.



ᎡᎶᎯ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏅ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᏓᏎᎮᎯ, Pat Gwin, ᎠᎴ ᎡᎶᎯ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏅ ᎤᎾᏙᏢᏒ ᎠᏟᏂᎬᏁᎯ Mark Dunham ᎾᏅ ᎢᎪᎯᏓ ᎡᏙᎮ ᏚᎵᏍᏗ ᎧᎸᎢ ᏧᏍᏗ ᏓᎪᎴᏍᏗᎲ ᎾᏅ ᎡᎳᏗ ᏕᏡᎬ ᎾᏅ ᏧᎾᏍᏕᏜ ᏚᏠᏒᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᎢᎦᏢᏍᎨᎢ ᏓᏍᏚᎲ ᎬᏰᎯ grifola frondosa ᎾᏅ ᎠᏔᎴᏒ Ꮟ ᎤᏓᎷᎸ ᏓᏍᏚᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᎧᎾᏫ ᎬᏗ.



Gwin ᏄᏪᏒᎢ, ᏫᏏᏃ fungus ᎾᏅ ᎠᏛᏍᎪᎢ ᏕᏡᎬᎢ ᏚᎾᏍᏕᏢ ᎾᏅ. ᎾᏅ ᎤᏴᏢ ᎧᎸᎬᎢᏗᏜ ᎣᎦᎳᎰᎹ, ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᎪᏛ ᎨᏒ ᎠᏛᏍᎪᎢ ᎠᏓᏯ ᏕᏡᎬᎢ. ᎠᎾᏁᏢᏗᏍᎬ, Gwin ᎠᎴ Dunham ᏓᏂᏢᏍᎨᎢ ᎤᏥᏍᎦᏟ ᎾᏅ ᎯᎸᏍᎩ ᏧᏓᎴᎩ ᏕᏡᎬᎢ, ᎤᏁᎦ ᏩᏁᎢ, ᎬᎿᎨ ᏎᏗ, ᎧᎵᏎᏥ, ᏓᏩᏥᎳ, ᎠᎴ ᏧᎧᏃᎾ.



“ᏂᎬᏂᏏᏍᎬ ᏍᏓᏱ ᏗᎦᎾᏩᏛᏗ (ᏓᏬᎵ), ᎣᎩᎾᏚᎵᏍᎬ ᎣᎩᏂᎪᏩᏛᏗ ᎢᎦᏲᎩᎾᏛᏅᏗ ᎣᏍᏗᎶᎾᏍᏙᏗ ᎡᎿᎢ ᎣᏍᏘᎪᏩᏘᏍᎬᎢ,” ᎤᏛᏁ Gwin.



ᎾᏃ ᎠᏂᎳᏍᏓᏢᎢ ᏚᏂᏩᏒᎢ ᏦᎢᏧᏈ ᏓᏍᏚᎲᎢ ᎬᏰᎯ grifola frondosa ᏅᏓᏳᎾᏓᎴᏅ ᎤᎾᏓᏡᎬᎢ ᎾᏅ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏩᏒᏓᏅ. ᏓᏍᏚᎲᎢ ᏫᏗᎦᏟᏗ ᎾᏅ ᏕᏡᎬᎢ ᎾᎯᏳ ᎦᏓᏁᎯᏴ ᏥᎨᏐᎢ ᏝᏃ ᏧᏗᏞᎩ ᏱᎨᏐᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏏᏅᏓ ᎤᏓᎷᎸᎢ ᎾᏯᏛᎲᏍᎬᎾ, ᎠᏗᏍᎨᎢ Gwin, ᏳᏓᎵᎭ ᏂᎦᎵᏍᏓᏁᎬ ᎾᏅ ᎤᏴᏢ ᎧᎸᎬᎢᏗᏜ ᎣᎦᎪᎰᎹ ᎭᎴ ᎠᏓᎴᏂᏍᎬ ᎠᎴ ᏅᏓᏕᏆ ᎠᏰᏟ. ᎾᏍᎩ ᏄᏍᏗᏓᏅ ᎾᏅ ᏚᎵᏍᏗ ᎣᏍᏓ ᎨᏒᎢ ᏂᎬᏂᏏᏍᎬ ᏗᎦᏍᎩ ᎨᏒ ᎾᎯᏳ. ᏑᏓᎵ ᏂᏚᏓᎴ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᎾᏅ ᏓᏫᏍᎦᎸ, ᏣᎳᎩᎯ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏆᏅᎩ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏚᏙᏢᏒ ᏧᎾᏑᏰᏓ ᎨᏒ ᏫᏏ ᏓᏬᎵ ᎠᎾᏁᏢᏗᏍᎬ ᎤᏅᏒ ᏧᎾᏛᎯᏍᏙᏗ ᏄᏰᎸᏛ ᎥᏍᎩᎾ ᏍᎦᏚᎩ ᏕᎭ ᏩᏁᎢ, ᎠᏓᏯ ᏕᏡᎬ ᎾᏅ.



Gwin ᎤᏁᏨᎢ ᎤᏚᎩ ᎤᏩᎭ Ꮎ ᏓᏍᏚᏛᎢ ᏧᏛᎯᏍᏙᏗ ᏫᏏ ᏔᎵ ᎠᎴ ᏦᎢ ᎢᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎠᎴᏃ ᎢᎬᏗᏍᎨᎢ ᎡᎶᎯ ᏂᎬᎾᏛ ᏗᏟᎶᏍᏗᏍᎩ ᎠᎴ ᏩᏢᏕ ᎠᎴ ᏓᎾᏟᎶᏍᏗᏍᎨ ᏳᏍᏗᎭ ᏚᏙᏢᏒᎢ ᎾᏅ ᏚᏂᎯᏴ Ꮎ ᏓᏍᏚᏛᎢ ᎢᎤᏁᏤᎢ ᎠᎴ ᏓᏘᏁᎲ ᏓᏄᎪᏗᏍᎨᏍᏗ ᎤᏁᏓᏍᏗ ᎾᏅ ᏚᏙᏢᏩᏗᏒᎢ ᎤᏂᎦᏛᎲᏍᎬ ᎾᏃ Ꮎ ᏓᏍᏚᏛᎢ ᎾᎾᎵᏍᏗᏍᎬᎢ. “ᎾᏃ ᏓᏬᎵ ᎤᏛᏒᎢ. ᎠᎴ ᎤᏅ ᎨᏎᏍᏗ ᎤᏛᎯᏍᏓᏅ, ᎤᏪᏩᏨᎢ ᏫᏏ, ᎠᎴ ᏱᏅᏛᎬᎾᏕᏏᏓ. Ꮎ ᎤᏙᎯᏳᏒ ᏫᏏ ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯ ᏥᏓᏂᏰᏍᎪᎢᎸ, ᎾᏍᏊ Ꮎ ᎤᏥᎸᏍᎩᏭ ᎾᏅ ᏓᏟᎶᏍᏛ,” ᎤᏁᏤᎢ. “ᎾᎢ ᎤᏙᎯᏳᎢ ᏦᎢᏁ ᏩᏕᏘᏱᏍᎬ ᎢᏗᎬᏖᏃᎮᏍᏗ ᎢᎩᏩᏛᏗ ᎪᎱᏍᏗ.” ᎤᏁᏤᎢ ᏫᏏ ᏓᏬᎵ ᎤᏓᏡᎬ ᏅᎩ-ᎢᏳᏟᎶᏓ ᏗᎩᎶᏍᏗ ᏒᏙᏂ ᏯᎧᎵᏣ ᏱᎩᏓ ᏗᏛᏍᎪᎢ. Ꮎ ᏚᏳᎪᏛ ᏱᎬᏅᏗ ᏩᏰᎯᏍᏗ ᎭᏰᎵᏍᏗ ᎾᏅ ᎡᎳᏗ ᎠᎴ ᎥᎿ ᏫᎦᎾᏌᏁᏒᎢ ᏩᏰᎯᏍᏗ. ᎾᏍᎩᏃ ᎠᏛᏅᎢᏍᏙᏗ ᎠᎩᏍᏗ, ᎤᏛᏁᎢ, ᎢᏳᏗᎾ ᎠᎵᏢᏙᏗ ᏔᎵ ᎠᎴ ᏦᎢ ᎢᏳᏩᎪᏘ ᏱᏗᎬᏅᏕᏍᏗ Ꮎ ᏍᎪᏱ ᎠᎴ ᎦᏓ. ᏍᎩᏃ ᎤᎶᏐᏅ ᎠᎬᏯᎷᏯᏅ, ᎠᎹ ᏱᎬᏁᎸ ᎠᎴ ᎢᏌ ᎦᏅᎵᏰᎥ ᎠᎴ ᎭᏫᎾ ᏫᎬᏣᏢᏅᎢ.



“ᎯᎸᏍᎩ ᎢᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᏥᎨᏒ ᎠᏂᎦᏴᎵ ᎤᎾᏅᏖᎢ ᏫᏏ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᏛᏗ ᏕᏡᎬᎢ, ᎠᎴ ᏫᏏ ᎤᎾᎵᏍᏛᏗ ᏕᏡᎬᎢ ᎾᏅ ᎨᏒᎢ ᎤᎾᏕᏟ ᎠᎴ ᎠᏂᏏᏓᏁᎸ ᎠᏂᎩᏏᏍᎨᎢ.



ᏕᏡᎬᎢ ᎥᎬᎩᏃᎯᏎᎸ ᎾᏅ ᏕᎲᎢ. ᎤᏂᎪᏗᏓ ᏍᎩᏳᎾᏍᏗ ᏕᏡᎬ ᏚᏂᎵᏬᏨ,” ᎤᏛᏁᎢ.”

ᎯᎸᏍᎬ ᎢᏧᏕᏘᏴᏓ ᎤᏛᏅᎯᏓ ᎤᎧᏲᏛᎯ ᎨᏒ ᎤᏲᎢ ᎤᏂᎦᏛᎴᏎᎢ ᎾᏅ ᏫᏏ ᎠᏁᎲᎢ.

ᎢᏳᏍᏗ ᎣᏣᏁᏢᏗᏍᎬᎢ ᏗᏎᏍᏗ ᏧᏁᏉᏨᎢ ᎢᏳᎵᏍᏙᏗᎢ.”

About the Author
Will Chavez is a Cherokee/San Felipe Pueblo Indian who has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 25 years. During that time he has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a writer, reporter and photographer for the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers. 

For many years h ...
WILL-CHAVEZ@cherokee.org • 918-207-3961
Will Chavez is a Cherokee/San Felipe Pueblo Indian who has worked in the newspaper and public relations field for 25 years. During that time he has performed public relations work for the Cherokee Nation and has been a writer, reporter and photographer for the Cherokee Advocate and Cherokee Phoenix newspapers. For many years h ...

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