Popcorn! Was it planted as one of the 3 Sisters?

by A.L.Castle

Popcorn was used during the time of the American Indians, It may very well have been one of the three sisters. The three sisters relates to the way American Indians grew Maize or corn. Many native species of plants are still grown today. These include potatoes, chili’s, amaranth, quinoa and sunflowers.

They would grow corn or maize in circular mounds along with beans and squash. They would use the fertile soil near creeks and ponds.They used tools to make the round mounds. They would find material from the areas where they stayed. Long sticks were used to break up the ground. They would use the shoulder blades from buffalo and deer as hoes. They would hook the bones to long sticks. Other sticks were formed into trellises for drying the food.

First they would plant the corn in mounds. Fish were used as fertilizer.The corn was planted on the outside edge of the mounds. When the corn was 10-12 inches tall they would plant the beans right next to the corn stalks. The beans would grow up the corn without interfering in the corns developement. This was a natural trellis for the beans. After the beans were growing they would plant the squash in the middle part of the mound. The squash was protected from the corn and the beans provided nitogen for the corn and squash. The 3 plants worked together helping each other grow.

The beans could be picked from the vines as they grew up the stalks. This made for a larger crop and easier to harvest. They could pick the corn as it ripened. The stalks were left up for the beans to stay on. The stalks also helped to shade the squash.This made the squash easier to pick.

The Indians would also alternate the rows of the squash and corn. This would stop them from competing for water and minerals. The squash was grown with the corn or by itself. The Indians used about an eight of an acre per person for the three sisters. They held the earth as sacred. This would let them take advantage of the land and provide them with a wholesome source of hand grown food. They wouldn’t even use manure from horses or wild animals. They saw it as unclean in both the spiritual and temporal sense.

The Indians would cultivate twice during the growing season. The first time they would do a shallow hoeing on a hot sunny day a few weeks after planting, This would take care of most of the weeds that had sprouted. The second time was done a few weeks after that. Any weeds that would grow from then on would be shaded from the corn as it grew.

The Indians grew a type of corn that dried very hard. They were known to roast immature corn in the husk to be eaten. There is evidence that suggest that the Indians would skewer cobs of corn on sticks to be roasted over open flames and eaten as popcorn.

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