I'm curious how one could get/make some glue when in the wilderness. How did the Native Americans do it?
A fabulous source for detailed information on north american plants suitable for glue production can be obtained from Native American Ethnobotany by Daniel E. Moerman. Here are quite a few that come to mind:
- Chrysothamnus nauseosus ssp. hololeucus (Gray) Hall & Clements, Rubber Rabbitbrush: Bulbs roasted and the juice used as a substitute for glue in attaching feathers to arrows.
- Chlorogalum sp., Soap Root: Bulbs made into glue and used to fasten sinew on the backs of the sinew-backed bows.
- Grindelia integrifoliavdr. macrophylla (Greene) Cronq., Sticky sap used like glue,
- Ipomopsis aggregata (Pursh) V. Grant ssp. aggregata, Skyrocket Gilia, Whole plant boiled for glue,
- Picea glauca (Moench) Voss, White Spruce, Warmed pitch used as glue to patch birchbark canoes and to attach feathers to arrows.
- Picea sitchemis (Bong.) Carr., Sitka Spruce, Rendered pitch used as a glue for arrows and harpoons before they were tied.
- Pinus contorta Dougl. ex Loud., Lodgepole Pine, Resin boiled with buffalo phallus and used as a glue for head dresses and bows.
- Pinus edulisEngelm., Twoneedle Pinyon, Pitch used to glue arrows and cradleboards.
- Pinus elliottii Engelm., Slash Pine, Plant used to make arrow point glue.
- Pinus muricata D. Don, Bishop Pine, Pitch used like glue.
- PiltUS monticola Dougl. ex D. Don, Western White Pine, Pitch used as glue.
- Pinus ponderosa P. & C. Lawson, Ponderosa Pine, Fasteners Pitch used as glue in arrow making and other manufactures.
- Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa (Torr. & Gray ex Hook.) Brayshaw, Black Cottonwood, Leaf buds, in spring, used as glue to stick feathers to arrows, Bud scale resin used to glue arrowhead onto shafts and in making spears, fishhooks, and canoes. Buds used as a binding agent to glue duck feathers to red cedar hoops used for festive applications.
- Prunus virginiana L, Common Chokecherry, Sap mixed with the neck portion of certain animals and used to make a glue.
- Sambucus racemosa L, Scarlet Elderberry, Water proofing Agent fruite or flower glue used to waterproof cedar bark rain hats.
- Sphaeralcea angustifolia ssp. lobata (Woot.) Kearney, Copper Globemallow, Root sap rubbed on the skin and used as glue for feathers and cotton during dances.
There are many more plants. For a complete list please get Native American Ethnobotany by Daniel E. Moerman. I might have missed some so please get the book!
Conifers are your friend here - they have a sticky sap which can be used as the base ingredient for a natural glue. It hardens relatively quickly on exposure to air and in its solid form is quite easy to store without sticking to everything, so if you have this in mind it's a good idea to collect some as you see it.
When you've got your pitch (the hardened sap from conifers) melt 5 parts of it in a pan to one part charcoal and one part finely crushed plant material. It'll become black, sticky and (as soon as heat is removed) very thick. This is great for storage because you can roll it into a ball as it cools, then heat some up when you intend to use it!
A word of warning - it's highly flammable, so watch out (especially when mixing the initial ingredients together!) Cook on hot charcoal / coals rather than an open flame to mitigate the risk somewhat of it catching fire.