Food In Native American Culture

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In German, it is called “Lebensmittel”. In Russian, the name for it is “питание”, pronounced as “pitaniye”. In Chineese, it is known as “食物”, pronounced as “shíwù”. And, in Cherokee, it goes by the name “Agisti”, pronounced “ah-gees-ti” (). Every culture, race, and person has a word to describe this essential part of human life: food. Much like any other culture, food plays a very important part of Native American culture and history. Sources of food such as agriculture played a direct part in the development of Native American tribes society while hunting and fishing for food were key parts of many tribal cultures. The culinary traditions of the tribes are also Before discussing recipes and other aspects of Native American food, it is important …show more content…

Agriculture is often regarded as one of the first steps to society, and, at first, it was only practiced by a relatively small number of Native American tribes. For example, tribes such as the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, and Creek that lived in the southeast of North America were known to subsist on around 40% hunted game or gathered fruits/vegetables and 60% on farmed goods while many other tribes in the region much more heavily focused on hunting and gathering (Sullivan). The tribes that did focus on agriculture, however, eventually discovered a key agricultural technique: Companion Planting. Specifically, companion planting is the practice of planting multiple species of plant in close proximity so that each plant provides something that another plant needs to thrive. The first and most widely used Native American variant of companion planting involved three plants known as the “Three Sisters,” and was developed over a period of 5,000 to 6,500 years (Landon). Specifically, the three sisters were Corn, Beans, and Squash, three key plants that grow much better together than apart. The corn stalk provided the beans with support to grow on, the beans fixed nitrogen from the air to increase the quality of the soil, and the …show more content…

Companion planting as a system was much more resilient and provided more food than traditional planting methods, making the Three Sisters method a strong motivator to move towards a more agriculturally-based society. It is known that Three Sisters companion planting method was nigh essential to several Native American groups; the Three Sisters was the backbone of agriculture for the Iroquois of the Northeast, for the Pueblo who resided in the Southwest, and for the Aztecs who lived in Mesoamerica (Carr). However, the only crop of the Three Sisters that was native to the Northeast or Southeast of North America was squash, while corn, beans, and squash could be found in Mesoamerica and South America (Park). For the Three Sisters technique to have ever taken hold in regions outside Mesoamerica and South America, a vast trade network between these regions and these peoples would have been required, sowing the seeds for the spread of culture and tribal history throughout the Americas. Evidence for this trade network was seen by many early European settlers in the form of certain Native American hand signals used specifically for a trading language (Park). These trading networks originating from the common bond of agriculture resulted in the union of peoples scattered around the continent, and

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