Regrowing Indigenous Agriculture Could Nourish People, Cultures and the Land Reply

By Christina Gish Hill, In These Times

His­to­ri­ans know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanks­giv­ing, when Wampanoag peo­ples shared a har­vest meal with the pil­grims of Ply­mouth plan­ta­tion in Mass­a­chu­setts. And tra­di­tion­al Native Amer­i­can farm­ing prac­tices tell us that squash and beans like­ly were part of that 1621 din­ner too.

For cen­turies before Euro­peans reached North Amer­i­ca, many Native Amer­i­cans grew these foods togeth­er in one plot, along with the less famil­iar sun­flower. They called the plants sis­ters to reflect how they thrived when they were cul­ti­vat­ed together.

Today three-quar­ters of Native Amer­i­cans live off of reser­va­tions, main­ly in urban areas. And nation­wide, many Native Amer­i­can com­mu­ni­ties lack access to healthy food. As a schol­ar of Indige­nous stud­ies focus­ing on Native rela­tion­ships with the land, I began to won­der why Native farm­ing prac­tices had declined and what ben­e­fits could emerge from bring­ing them back.

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