Trac­ing our rich Na­tive Amer­i­can farm­ing legacy

Cherokee County Herald - - COMMUNITY NEWS -

The In­di­ans that roamed Chero­kee County which were Chero­kees and Creek tribes pri­mar­ily were some of our first farm­ers.

They cul­ti­vated corn (maize), beans, squash, pumpkins, mel­ons and prob­a­bly cu­cum­bers. They sup­ple­mented th­ese veg­eta­bles with wild game and the gath­er­ing of wild foods.

Corn, beans, squash, and mel­ons came north from Mex­ico in the early years of habi­ta­tion in this area. Dried beans and corn could be stored for win­ter foods. Corn was cracked or ground and used in soups and corn meal cakes. Deer, tur­keys, birds, small mam­mals, fish, mus­sels, cray­fish, and tur­tles pro­vided pro­tein in their di­ets.

Deer meat could be dried over a smoky fire into a type of jerky. Bear meat was highly prized by the na­tive In­di­ans be­cause of the fat con­tent. Bear fat was used to cook with, mixed in paint, and put on their skin to re­pel mos­qui­toes.

Tribe gath­er­ers could pick wild sun­flow­ers, amaranth, honey lo­cust, crabap­ples, per­sim­mons, plums, paw-paws, black­ber­ries, huck­le­ber­ries, blue­ber­ries, mul­ber­ries, el­der­ber­ries, and wild straw­ber­ries.

Other plants like Queen Anne’s lace roots, clover, cat­tail roots and dan­de­lions can also be eaten.

The Euro­peans and Africans who came and pop­u­lated the south­ern states later adopted many of th­ese foods into their di­ets and sur­vived from the things they learned from the In­dian tribes that lived here in Chero­kee County.

Sadly th­ese In­di­ans were killed or moved by force to Ok­la­homa where they were put on the poor­est land by our govern­ment.

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