I’ve always been curious about American Indian culture and traditions because I have some ancestral ties to Indigenous North American communities. Within the past year I have been blessed with the privilege of working on some social work research into health disparities and resilience within these communities.
I recently took a trip to Oklahoma to visit some of my family there and was strongly encouraged to take some time to visit the Chickasaw Nation Cultural Center in Sulphur. This is a beautiful campus that is beautifully designed to include various gardens, monuments, and galleries to honor the Chickasaw people and their way of life.
Here is a photo of the life-size village they have built on their campus, there’s a “sky bridge” 40 feet off the ground so that you can view it from above. This photo includes the community gathering building (the big one) as well as the traditional summer and winter homes. All of which you can walk inside of and learn more about their particulars as you tour the village. Very cool!
All across the campus, many of the plants and trees are marked with name plates and descriptions which provide information on medicinal uses. This was probably one of my favorite parts as I am just starting to dig a bit deeper into my gardening at home these days. I just happened to be there for the Three Sisters Festival which honors the beginning of spring and the planting of corn, beans, and squash.
Corn, beans, and squash are said to be watched over by the Three Sisters spirits and they are planted in a particular formation in order that they may support one another’s growth throughout the seasons. Corn stalks provide shelter and strength for the others, beans lean on the corn stalks for support and also provide important nitrogens for the soil, the squash vines serve as a living mulch barrier to keep the critters from bothering the corn and beans. I have heard of this before but thought it was so neat that I am going to use this method in my own garden this season. (I will be sure and post some info on this once I get started.)
To learn more about the Three Sisters Garden method, click on the link below:
I also got to try out some of their traditional foods at the cafe there and they even gave me the recipes! I’m going to be trying these out soon and will be sure to write about it when I do.
This weekend, (March 19-20) I will be visiting the United Houma Nation, here in Lousiana, for a pow wow and I am very much looking forward to it. If you see this and are interested in attending, you can click on the following link to get more information.