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Vegetables :






Corn The Great American Cereal
Corn and the Early Colonies

2 Corn and the Indian
3a Photos - Corn & Tools
3b Photos - Indians in corn fields
4a Photos - Corn Drying & Hopi field
4b Photos - Mortar and Pestles
5 Kinds of Corn Grown by the Indians.
6 Primitive Seed-testing Methods.
The Nettle Seed Tester
7 Primitive Corn-Planting Methods
8 Indian Cornfields
Primitive Tools
9 Plants as Indicators of the Season
10 Seed Selection and Storing

Indian Corn Foods


Primitive and Modern Methods of Culture
13 Corn and the Westward Movement
14 Corn and the Packing Industry
15 The Silo and the Corn Crop
16 Variations of the Corn Plant
17 Corn and the Struggle for Democracy



From the Yearbook of the United States Department of Agriculture 1918
page 10

By H. Howard Biggar,
Office of Corn Investigations, Bureau of Plant Industry.


   The Indians practiced seed selection and had definite standards. Many tribes discarded the butts and tips, planting only the middle portions of the ears. Some tribes discarded ears with moldy cobs or with irregular rows. Well-filled ears were preferred, with straight rows of kernels. Seed ears were selected each fall and the husks braided together, so that a braid would contain about 50 ears and would be about 5 feet long. Practically all the Indian tribes seem to have practiced braiding. The tribes of the Southwest hung the braids up to dry or else spread unbraided ears on the ground or on the roofs of their flat-topped houses. After the drying was completed, the corn was stored in the lower stories of the dwellings. Some of the southwestern tribes used large storage baskets.
   The Indians of the New England and Middle-Western States used the cache for storing corn and other foodstuffs. These caches were holes dug in the ground, usually to a  depth of 5 to 7 feet and several feet in diameter. They were either jug-shaped or cylindrical. Although the fields of corn were usually on the lower lands, the caches were dug on the higher ground so as to avoid danger from seepage waters. Caches were dug either inside or outside of the dwellings. Considering the rude tools at the disposal of the Indians, the digging of a cache was no small task.
   Shelled corn and braided corn were both put in the caches. Usually the shelled corn was placed in buffalo or deer-skin sacks before caching. Indians in the forest country cached their corn after placing it in bags made of cedar bark. A fire was often started in the cache after completion in order to dry it out before storing corn. Grass and bark were used in lining the sides and bottoms. The final covering was earth, and when well covered the cache could not be distinguished by strangers, and so was not in much danger of being robbed. Sometimes one family had as many as two or three caches.


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    See The Evolution of Horticulture in New England for a description of an Indian cache.