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Ethnobotanical Investigation of the Acjachemen Clapperstick from Blue Elderberry, Sambucus mexicana (Caprifoliaceae)

Michael Walker, Jacque Nunez, Marion Walkingstick and Sandra Anne Banack
Economic Botany
Vol. 58, No. 1 (Spring, 2004), pp. 21-24
Published by: Springer on behalf of New York Botanical Garden Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4256772
Page Count: 4
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Ethnobotanical Investigation of the Acjachemen Clapperstick from Blue Elderberry, Sambucus mexicana (Caprifoliaceae)
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Abstract

The Acjachemen Indians of San Juan Capistrano, California, have a rich history predating the establishment of the Spanish Missions. The Acjachemen have many uses for the plants indigenous to the area. The Blue or Mexican Elderberry, Sambucus mexicana C. Presl, Caprifoliaceae, continues to be a plant of great importance to the Acjachemen people. Known as the "tree of music," its wood is used in the construction of the capperstick, a percussion instrument used to accompany song. We documented the construction stages of the clapperstick by Acjachemen artisans: harvest, woodworking, and decoration. Tribal elders granted permission to document the process with videotape and photographs. While the methods and tools employed in the process have changed over time, the cultural importance of the clapperstick has not.

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