Good to Self, Good to Earth

trying on more healthy ways of being, day by day


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New Life, New Garden

I was so inspired by the Three Sisters Garden that I learned about while I was visiting the Chickasaw Nation Cultural Center that I decided to incorporate it into my vegetable garden this spring.

First we had to clear out a bunch of grass, clean up a lot of overgrown shrubs in front of the house, bring in a whole bunch of dirt, and build some mounds for planting.
Here’s the “before and after” of that:

 

For the Three Sisters Garden, the object is to grow corn, beans, and squash.  They grow well together, feed each other, and protect one another. I decided to mix it up a bit and choose a few varieties within each of these categories.

Field corn / Dent corn (which is better for corn meal) and pole beans are both recommended for the three sisters garden so that the bean vines can attach to the strong stalks of these corn varieties.  I chose Green Oaxaca Dent Corn and and Pencil Cob Dent corn along with Wando green peas and Kentucky Wonder green beans for 2/3 of my three sisters area. Since I wanted to grow some sweet corn as well, I chose Bantam corn and half-runner Pinto beans. Half-runners are a mixture between a pole-bean and a bush-bean so I’m hoping that they will do alright since they won’t need as much support from the sweet corn.  I will also add stakes as supports for these sweet corn stalks and their beans, just to be safe.

As for the squash, its recommended to use varieties that will grow on a creeping vine (better protection for the other plants) so I am using butternut squash, cantaloupe, acorn squash, cucumber, and spaghetti squash.

So far I’ve only planted the corn and will add the beans and squash in the next few weeks.

In the same front area, I was able to add a few more mounds and rows for a little patch of other vegetables as well.
First, I transplanted some carrot, beet, and swiss chard seedlings which I’m also growing in half-barrels in the back garden.

Then I sowed the following from seed as well:
Zucchini
Yellow Squash
Kale
Lima Beans
Marigolds
Luffa Sponge

Should be having some sprouts real soon!

 

 


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Dance: Traditional, Pow Wow

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This past weekend, I was invited to attend the “Celebrate ABILITIES” pow wow in Houma, Louisiana and it was a truly amazing experience.

This was a relatively small pow wow, especially when compared to the giant gatherings at national celebrations where people come from all over the country to participate and enjoy. This pow wow was clearly put together by a smaller community and was very family-oriented, most of the participants in dance competitions were children and teens.  I look forward to attending one soon that runs on a larger scale, but it was very pleasant to watch the engagement of families in this more closely-knit community gathering.

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There were vendors selling various food items including fry bread tacos (plus, gumbo and snow balls –local staples here in Louisiana). There were also several crafts-people who were selling handmade items from tables off to the side of the drum circle.  It was great getting to speak with them and support some small local businesses.  It is clear that a tremendous amount of care and attention to detail must go into these crafts and costumes and I find it very inspiring.

An announcer opened the celebration with a prayer, including a special thanks for all of the US Veterans.  There was also a ceremonial presentation of a flag which had flown at the twin towers on 9/11 and had been given to the Cheyenne River Veterans for them to preserve and share.  Drumming and singing soon followed and for the next 5 hours there were various displays of dancing which honored not only the ancestors and veterans, but also the young children who were relatively new to the pow wow experience.

Things were winding down a bit as I was leaving around 4pm, but in reality they were only taking a short break before beginning the evening events which I’m sure were just as powerful, if not more.

I would strongly recommend to anyone who is interested that you find and attend a pow wow event.  You can even go to powwows.com to learn more and also to check the calendar for events in various geographical regions!

Have any cool stories from pow wows you’ve been to?  Or thoughts/tips/facts for me in my continuing journey of exploring Native American traditions and cultures?  If so, please comment below! Or you can email me at: goodcommon@gmail.com

photo-challenge: dance


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Exploring Southeastern US Tribal Culture

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.

chickasaw village

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:

Three Sisters Garden Method

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.

UHN Pow Wow 3/19-3/20