SEED SELECTION AND STORING.
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