Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Native American Indian Heritage Month -Thanksgiving

Squanto 1581-1622

Assisting the Pilgrims during their first, harsh winter, the Patuxet, Tasquantum (Squanto) befriended the group in order to see them safely through to spring. In 1608, alas, Squanto and several others were kidnapped by Georgie Weymouth and taken aboard ship to England. Though eventually earning a living and learning the English language, Squanto made his return home in 1613 aboard John Smith's ship only to find his tribe completely wiped out by the plague.

Squanto had shown the Pilgrims how to fish, hunt, gather, and farm.

Thanks to Squanto, and a lot of hard work, the Pilgrims had a bountiful harvest. To celebrate the successful harvest, the Pilgrims' governor, William Bradford, invited the Native Americans to a traditional festival called "Harvest Home". "The First Thanksgiving," as we now call it, lasted for three days.

Welcome to the garden of The Three Sisters:

“In late spring we plant corn and beans and squash. They're not just plants- we call them the three sisters. We plant them together, three kinds of seeds in one hole. They want to be together with each other, just as we Indians want to be together with each other. So long as the three sisters are with us we know we will never starve. The Creator sends them to us each year. We celebrate them now. We thank Him for the gift He gives us today and every day.”

- Chief Louis Farmer (Onondaga)

THE THREE SISTERS: The first sister is corn, she grows tall and strong and helps the second sister, bean, by allowing her vines to climb up her stalk. In return, bean gives corn the nutrients she needs to grow. Squash is the third sister and she grows low to the ground, throughout the cornfield. Her large leaves help to keep the weeds under control and the soil moist.

The tribe's very survival depended on a reliable food supply, which is why they developed something called "companion planting”.

It was pure agricultural brilliance, and the reason these three humble plants play such a large part in so many Native American myths and legends. They believed that since they were so magical when grown together, that they should also be eaten together. They also believed that since they protected each other while growing, that they would protect whoever ate them together.

The term “Three Sisters” originated with the Haudenosaunee. (People of the Long House). In the Haudenosaunee story of Creation, the Three Sisters grew on Turtle Island and were considered the life sustainers.

CORN: Native Americans first domesticated Corn over 6,000 years ago, in that part of North America today called Mexico. Corn exists today, not just as a plant, but also as a symbol. It stands for Haudenosaunee identities. It stands for life. And it stands for spirit.

BEANS: Beans were as highly regarded as corn by Native Americans. Many varieties and colors of beans were cultivated and they were prepared in a number of ways. They were soaked, flattened, fried into cakes, used in salads, stews and soups and ground into flour.

SQUASH: Squash was also very important because it is very nourishing and can be cooked and eaten in a variety of ways. The winter squash such as acorn or butternut were often baked whole and flavored with maple syrup or honey. Squash is also important to the Iroquois ceremonially. Rattles used by the Medicine Societies were sometimes crafted from the gourds.

Why not try an authentic "succotash," which is the name that has survived to this day to describe the simple, yet magical combination of the "three sisters."

(Information for this article taken from Weekly Reader News)



6 cups of liquid. (Water, homemade chicken broth, or vegetable broth)

2 cups of fresh corn off the cob

1 cup of fresh green/yellow beans

1 cup of fresh peas

1 cup of light yellow pinto beans

1-½ cups of butternut/buttercup squash (or pumpkin)

2 bay leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Simmer all the veggies for about an hour and a half. (The simmering for that amount of time blends the flavor to an incredible flavor).

The blend of spices/herbs is your taste. I like a southwestern blend…. chilies, cumin, etc. Or a nice mild flavor blend of parsley, basil, savory, and oregano is wonderful. Place in blender and puree.

Serve with biscuits, bannock or scones.

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