Ozette Potato Lesson
The Ozette Potato is unique in that it is the only potato we know of that is truly an American potato. All other potatoes (that we know of) started in South America, traveled back to Europe with Spanish explorers, and then came to North America with explorers. The Ozette potato is “potato with a past!”
Students will be able to
understand that plants have histories just likehumans and that plant histories are usually tied to human history
understand that the Ozette potato has a uniquehistory, that it is the only potato we know of that is an American potato, andthis it has been an important source of food for the Makah Indian Nation
Have the students write in their journal aboutthe story of the ozette potato and ask them if they would like to know thestories of other foods. Ask them to show you where the Makah Indian Nation ison the map
Let me tell you a story...it's about Spanish explorers, Native Americans, a stormy Pacific Coast winter and potatoes!! (I know you didn't see that last part coming.) And strangely enough, the star of this story is a creamy fingerling potato known as the Makah Ozette Potato
We grow a small quantity of the Ozette potatoes in the garden, and we also have an information-filled poster to use as a teaching tool. It's one of our favorite ethnobotany lessons to introduce to students, in part because it really is a story about big winter storms, Spanish explorers and Native Americans! And what better time to teach this lesson than right now, during our stormiest month of the year (which also happens to be the best time to harvest the Ozettes).
Tell story of Ozette potato. Use the teachingtool of the map, and show how the Spanish explorers came from South America allthe way up the west coast of Central America, Mexico and then the coast ofCalifornia, Oregon and eventually the most NW point on the Washington coast.Begin by telling them you are going to tell them a story of Spanish explorers,Native Americans and huge Pacific Ocean storms.”
Show them an Ozette potato, and ask them if theyhave ever wondered if plants had stories? Then tell them the story of thepotatoes journey up the west coast of the Americas and the effects of the hugePacific Ocean storms on the Spanish explorers settlement.
In Spring you can plant the potato withstudents. In Fall you can harvest, cook and eat the potato. Cut into smallslices and baked with olive oil and salt they make delicious chips!