PLANTS AS INDICATORS OF THE SEASON.
three important periods in the field work of the agricultural Indians: (1)
Planting time, (2) roasting-ear time, and (3) the harvest period. After
planting, most of the members of the tribes left for other locations for the
summer hunt. Usually, some of the women were left to attend to the weeding
out of the patches. At roasting-ear time, many returned from the hunt to
gather corn and prepare it for food, much of it being parched and put away
for future use. When the ears were ripe, both men and women joined in the
It is of interest to note that the time to return from the hunt to
gather the roasting ears and the ripe ears was indicated to the hunters by
the appearance of prairie flowers the Indians having learned the relations
between the growth stages of corn and other plants. One of these indicator
plants was the blazing star, or buttonweed, whose habitat includes the
States of the Middle West. According to an informant of the Omaha tribe in
Nebraska, this plant was used as follows: When the Indians on their hunting
trips saw the first small flower buds appearing on the blazing star, they
knew that the corn in their fields at home was approaching the milk stage.
When the buds were entirely open, the corn was ready for parching and it was
time to return. Later in the season, when the plant was through blossoming,
they knew that the corn was ripe and it was time to harvest. Other plants
used as indicator plants on the Plains were the cat-tail and the goldenrod.