A member of the “Three Sisters Garden” along with squash and beans, corn is commonly referred to as Maize and was domesticated more than 8000 years ago and now has around 250 varieties. The Pueblo of the Southwest have been using corn since 1200 B.C. and around 1000 A.D. it was integrated into the Creek, Cherokee, and Iroquois diet. Not typically eaten on the cob, the corn kernels were ground into flour for tortillas, cornbread, and mush. Outside of a food source, dried corn and its leaves were used to make toys and mattresses.
For the people in the Great Plains, these animals were a symbolic and spiritual resource. Bison roamed by the millions in the Great Plains, ranging from Mexico to Alaska and were the main food source for many tribes. These animals hold a symbolic and spiritual meaning, as well as a source for food, shelter, utensils, and clothing. The meat is very lean and low in fat making it one of the healthiest red meats you can eat. Not a bit of the animal was wasted.
Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke)
Sunchokes are the roots of the sunflower plant and is often referred to as a "Jerusalem Artichoke" in stores and markets. It is crunchy and has a sweet, nutty flavor. The sunchoke resembles ginger root, can be eaten raw or cooked like potatoes, but is low in starch.
Sumac is used as a medicine or tea by Native American cultures and is member of the Rhus family that grow in many parts of the world. Native Americans referred to the tea as "Indian Lemonade." The fruits/small berries are most often dried and ground and used as a spice. Edible sumac has red flowers and berries. There is a poison sumac that has white seed heads. In Oklahoma it is seen growing prolifically along the roadsides.
This plant is full of vitamins, calcium and protein. The Native American peoples stored the leaves through the winter and made flour from the seeds.
High in amino acids and harvested for more than 10,000 years, Pinons were first utilized by the Washoe, Shoshone, Paiutes, and Hopi. It can be easily stored and ground to make flour.
Utilized for their nutrition as well as containers and jugs when hollowed out. Another key ingredient in the “Three Sisters” dishes.
A medical plant, it is used by First Americans to treat anxiety, constipation, skin rashes and headaches.
Thousand years of years ago quinoa was cultivated in the Andes and eventually traded in North America where it’s been found growing in the Kentucky area but a variation of it can be found as far north as Ontario. More a seed than a grain, Quinoa is considered a pseudocereal, which makes it gluten free. Wild quinoa is called Goosefoot in North America and can be seen all over.
Very significant to Indigenous cuisine, is harvested and celebrated throughout Oklahoma in the spring. The bulbs are boiled, roasted, or braised and added to soups and stews. Onion stalks are used in salads, on meat, and fish dishes. Watch for it out in the wild – rubbing it on your skin can repel mosquitos!
Wild Rice (Manoonin)
Manoonin is the word for wild rice in the Ojibwa language. There are three species of wild rice native to North America. One found in the Great Lakes region, another along the Atlantic and Gulf Coast, and one found in neighboring Texas. In many First American cultures wild rice is a sacred cultural symbol.
Wild turkeys are native to North America and were domesticated about 2000 years ago in the southeastern United States. Their feathers were used to make headdresses and arrows, the bones of the bird were used for tools.
The word “pecan” is Algonquin in origin and is the only major tree nut grown in North America. There are hundreds of varieties of pecans many named for North American Tribes: Cheyenne, Choctaw, Mohawk, Kiowa, Creek, Shawnee, and Sioux.
Dried Maize Mote or Hominy
Hominy, also called hulled corn, is corn that has been processed with lye or ash to remove the outer shell of the kernel. This food was a healthy staple of First American dishes. Hominy has a satisfying chew, and by removing the hull, humans can digest corn's natural vitamins and minerals easier.