Native American vegetables

Many of the vegetables still planted and harvested today were first planted and harvested by Natives.

Harvest season is upon us in Michigan and Native Americans are to thank for many of the crops being harvested (still) today. Have you ever thought about where your food originated or who first planted it and harvested it? Native Americans are the original farmer’s for some of the crops that are still being harvested today. Michigan is home to at least 12 federally recognized native tribes:

Upper Peninsula:

Keweenaw Bay Indian Community

Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians

Hannahville Indian Community

Bay Mills Indian Community

Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Lower Peninsula:

Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians

Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians

Little River Band of Ottawa Indians

Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians

Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Potawatomi Indians of Michigan (Gun Lake)

Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians

Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe

Native American cuisine includes all food practices of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. Information about Native American cuisine comes from many sources. Modern-day native peoples retain a rich body of traditional foods, some of which have become iconic of present day Native American social gatherings, such as fry-bread. Foods like cornbreadturkeycranberryblueberryhominy and mush are known to have been adopted into the cuisine of the United States from Native American groups.

Natives were known for their companion planting practices folklore. One that comes to mind is the “Three Sisters.” The essential staple foods of the Eastern Woodlands aboriginal Americans was maize (also called "corn"), beans and squash. These were called the "Three Sisters" because they were planted interdependently: The beans grew up the tall stalks of the maize, while the squash spread out at the base of the three plants and provided protection and support for the root systems.

Corn, beans and squash are full of vitamins but, Michigan State University Extension says that squash is the most nutritious of the three. Winter squash such as acorn or butternut has a higher percentage of carbohydrates, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A and C. There are many Native American cuisine recipes, folklore and traditions that one can research to celebrate this season’s harvest. Research one of the 12 recognized tribes (websites listed above) right here in Michigan!

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