home bookshop feed the hungry   earthly pursuits logo
what's new old book library safe seed pledge  
contact about books about food & recipes  
links I  II   garden tips  
search flower language blether  
  alphabetized flowers     flowers by meaning companion planting  
    click here to make a
"free" contribution to earthly pursuits

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 8

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


   The "hill" method of planting was the one usually followed by most of the tribes. Ground was selected as a rule along the banks of streams, trees were cut down and removed, weeds and rubbish were cleared away. Land where weeds grew were preferred because it was the easiest to prepare and was thought to be the most fertile. The fields were apt to be more or less irregular in shape, owing to the fact that they usually followed the bends of streams.
   In preparing land for corn, the entire field was not dug up and pulverized, but only space enough for each hill. Each spring the stalks were removed from the hill, it was pulverized and again used for planting, so that the same hills used over and over became quite large and distinctive, marking in after years the location of former fields. The Indian understood the value of spacing hills and they were usually 2 to 5 feet apart.
   Since the Indians practiced cooperation in their agricultural work to quite an extent, large fields of corn were really made up of hundreds of individual fields. Families helped each other at planting time and harvest in many instances, and at such times the fields presented a busy appearance. In the upper Missouri River valley in North Dakota as recently as 30 years ago, the Mandan, Arikara, and Gros Ventre tribes cultivated a tract of about 1,200 acres not far from the river banks. During the months of May and June this tract must have been an interesting place to visit. Here Indian women toiled long hours in the hot sun, working with primitive tools, the small fields being separated from each other in much the same way that children's school gardens are to-day. At the outskirts of the fields Indian sentinels might have been seen guarding the workers from the attacks of hostile tribes. Later on, in the fall of the year, a procession of toilers wended their way from the fields with braids of corn, carrying them to the village for storage.


   A more or less gradual evolution in the kinds of tools used in corn culture has taken place. The most primitive tool was the sharpened hardwood stick. Later, the shoulder blades of the buffalo and deer, deer antlers, and clam and tortoise shells were used. In the Mississippi Valley, numerous stone and flint implements have been found which, from their shape, suggest their use as primitive hoes or spades.


     previous / next