We Should Harvest like Our Ancestors

“It’s time for the harvest. Traditionally, the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) are hunter gatherers…I was taught that our ancestral teachings and spiritual instructions were not just a part of our history, but that they should be maintained, kept alive, and practiced continually because they can save us when situations are dire. It only takes one natural disaster to remind us that ‘modern civilization’ is often a house of cards that is not infallible. If you watch the news, you know a time is coming when we won’t be able to look to the government and outside organizations to rescue us, although Native Nations can work together.Native communities need to start focusing on themselves and preparing for difficult times.” R. Hopkins, ICTMN

Kansas Historical Society

Excerpt: Harvest like Our Ancestors: The Resistance is Fertile, R. Hopkins, ICTMN

“It’s time to pick medicine too. The prairie sage is tall. We start collecting sage and sweetgrass ahead of sundance, but we continue to collect enough to last us through the winter, which is well into March in the Dakotas. Do not pull them out by the root, and leave an offering along with a prayer of thanks for your bounty. There are many other Native plants that can be harvested and dried for medicine, like yarrow and purple coneflower.

Purple Coneflower. photo-metroblooms.org

If you’ve never used these wild medicines before, I caution you against doing so unless you’re under the guidance of an elder, medicine person, or ethnobotanist. We like to pick from designated areas as well, as some plants have been exposed to manmade pollution and aren’t suitable for consumption.

Prairie Sage, White Sagebrush

We planted, as well. On my reservation, ancient caches of corn were discovered. Today, tribal members are reviving the practice of gardening, not only to preserve tradition, but for better health and to promote community sustainability and food sovereignty.

The Three Sisters. Gardening harmony. Native American Indians planted corn, beans and squash

By growing our own seeds, we are combating the movement towards all plants and seeds being GMO (Genetically-Modified Organisms). I don’t think people realize what type of modifications are being made to plants and seeds, with insect, fish and other materials being integrated into them. In the end, we hold that knowledge of a pure food source, in our indigenous seeds. We need to protect that knowledge, share our seeds and continue on the tradition of growing our own foods.”

Category: Culture