Native Americans had a wide variety of positive uses for poison oak. Locally, the Chumash Indians used every bit of the plant form the roots to the leaves. The thin plant stems and roots were woven into baskets. After making baskets, the left over roots were grounded into a coarse bread meal. This meal was then cooked with other ingredients to make a gruel like substance.
The Native American's not only use the roots, parts of the plant were boiled down to produce a juice. This fresh juice, when left out in the sun, turned black quickly. They used this die in basketry. Fresh leaves tightly bound over a rattlesnake bite were thought to counteract the venom if applied immediately. Some tribes even used a potent concoction from poison oak as a wart remover.
If anyone is thinking about trying some of these other uses, be advised. The Native Americans had years of knowledge and experience using the poison oak plant. A beginner trying these alternate uses might experience a serious allergic reaction. Apparently, the local Indians developed immunity to the oil produced by the plan and subsequently experienced slight negative affects to no affect at all from the poison oak plant.
Native American "Chumash" Usage
Web page made by Richelle Leggett