Native Village Youth and Education News
November, 2009  Volume 3

Native American book inspires local grower
By Curt Nettinga, Hot Springs Star staff

Condensed by Native Village

Hot Springs, S.D.:  People in the Southern Hills travel to Tuma's market to purchase fresh, locally grown produce.

Two years ago Maureen Tuma began an experiment after reading "Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden" is a translation of a Hidatsa Indian woman born born in the 1830s. Her family raised crops of squash, corn, beans and sunflowers along the Missouri River in today's North Dakota.

"I thought that I would give her traditional plantings a try," Tuma said, showing off the small portion of her garden given over to the ancient way.

"They planted these three -- corn, beans and squash -- together," Tuma said. "They work well together, and each one supplies a necessary part to make things work. They are very compatible."

Tuma said that the crops are traditionally planted in a large rectangle. Corn is planted on the inside, with beans next to it and squash on the outside.

The crops work well together; the corn has strong, tall, stalks suitable for climbing plants such as the black beans that Tuma is growing. "This corn is blue corn, and it is ornamental," Tuma said. "The black beans, called 'Trail-of-Tears,' and the blue corn, which can be used to make corn meal, came from Native tribes in the southwest."

The squash, planted on the outer edge, is the defender of the crops. The rough leaves and bristle-covered stems discourage the foragers who would make a meal out of the beans and corn.

"Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden  was first published nearly a century ago. In addition to offering crop secrets, the book takes the reader through the year, giving tips on preparing and planting, cultivating, harvesting and storing the crop."

Next year Tuma plans to dedicate a larger portion of her garden along Fall River Road to Buffalo Bird Woman's idea.

"I think I will use some different corn next year, maybe a sweet corn, along with the beans and squash," she said.


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