Native Village
Youth and Education news
September 2010 Volume 3

Kickapoo Pow Wow: Gift of beans sprouts historic friendship
Condensed by Native Village

Illinois: Lee Bentley and Marty Travis have repaid a 180-year-old debt their family owed the Kickapoo -- with beans.

“Having discovered these beans were still alive, it seemed like a right thing to do,” Lee Bentley said.  “Shucks, you don’t get a chance to do something like this every day."

The beans are descended from those given to their family by the the Kickapoo in 1830.

Bentley and Travis's ancestors, the Darnall family, arrived in Illinois from Kentucky in October, 1829. The family was unprepared for the harsh winter of 1830, among the worst on record.  Except for American Indians, the Darnalls were alone in the area.

When Kickapoo travelers came across the family and realized their plight, they returned with enough beans for them to eat and to grow more food in spring.

Those beans enabled Valentine Darnall, his wife, Rachel, and their four children ages 2 - 9 family to survive/

“The honor of being able to return [the beans] to them is pretty paramount,” said Travis.

Bentley first heard the story when he was a boy. Then a few years ago, he found a distant cousin was was still growing them. He brought some of those beans to Travis, who then grew them on Darnall’s original 160-acre homestead.

Bentley eventually plans to sell some of the beans to his clients.  Famed Chef Rick Bayless of the Frontera Grill in Chicago has told Travis he’ll buy the beans, which Travis said have a “unique” flavor.

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