PRIMITIVE AND MODERN METHODS OF CULTURE.
evolution in methods of corn culture since the primitive days when the
Indians cared for their main food plant may seem very striking. In
comparing, however, the practices of the red man with our modern methods of
corn culture, we must not fail to recognize his ingenuity and foresight.
Modern tools were not available. Years of experimental evidence as to the
wisdom of this or that step were wholly lacking. In view of these facts, the
Indian's utilization of materials at hand and his methods of procedure are
to be commended. The Indian had no means of recording time. He watched the
forces of nature in planning his agricultural work. Seed was prepared and
corn was planted with the wild turnips began to bloom, when grass became
green, when plums, wild grapes, or juneberries began to blossom, or when the
leaves of the trees began to uncurl.
In lieu of our modern tillage machines, the women of the tribes
worked up the ground with tools wrought from wood, bone, or stone. The
number of kernels planted per hill has not materially changed even to this
day. The principle of spacing hills and the distance apart of hills are
about the same to-day as in primitive times. Special attention was given to
the type of seed ear, the drying of seed, and the testing of germination in
primitive testers; all these indicate an almost uncanny knowledge on the
part of the Indian agriculturist, quite in keeping with our emphasis on
these points to-day.
It is a far cry from the cache to the modern well-ventilated corn
crib, but the utility of the cache as a burglar-proof storage house can not
be denied. Domestic-science experts, skilled in methods of utilization of
corn as a food, must not fail to recognize primitive housekeeping skill as
exemplified in the scores of corn foods prepared and used by the Indians.