carefully tended an ancient squash for thousands of years and now
the seeds are seeing a resurgence in popularity
A squash seedling (though
not one of the ancient squash) (Paul Downey via Flickr.com
(CC BY 2.0))
a member of the Gun Lake tribe, holds a Gete Okosman squash
at the Gteganes Farm. (photo courtesy of JIJAK FOUNDATION)
with one of the squashes that grew on Eighth Day Farm. (photo
by REBECCA WILLIAMS / MICHIGAN RADIO)
Last year, Eighth
Day Farm in Holland, Michigan, planted some squash seeds they
were given, not knowing what they would produce. When the plants
eventually grew in as bright orange, two-foot-long squashes, farmer
Sarah Hofman-Graham invited Michigan Radio reporter Rebecca Williams
over for some soup. The squash "tasted sweet and mild,"
reports for Michigan Radio.
This isn't the story of a mystery seed producing something tasty
rather the plants tell a story of Native Americans who have recovered
an almost-forgotten variety of squash.?
The seeds Eight Day Farm planted came from Paul DeMain, the editor
of News from Indian
Country and a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. He tells
Williams that he got the seeds from the Miami Nation in Indiana.
The seeds have traveled from hand to hand, in part thanks to seed
keepers at White Earth Land Recovery
Project in Minnesota.
The Gete-Okosomin squash (which roughly translates to "big
old squash") can yield fruit that weigh more than 30 pounds.
The seeds come from a lineage of plants carefully tended for millennia
by Native Americans, writes Alysa Landry for Indian Country Today.
The Miami Nation has grown Gete-Okosomin squash for 5,000 years,
Landry reports. They were "careful stewards of the seed, taking
care to hand-pollinate them and maintain their purity." In
1995, gardeners from the Miami Nation gave seeds to David Wrone,
who is now an emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin.
"It's a delicious variety," Wrone says. "And it doesn't have the
rind on it that many modern squash have. I would imagine the Miami
people sliced it, dried it out and put it in the rafters of their
homes. Then they could pull it down and use it in their cooking,
throw it in with rabbit, corn or wild rice."
Kenton Lobe, an environmental studies professor at Canadian Mennonite
University in Winnipeg, Manitoba, tells Landry that his students
have cultivated the squash at the university farm for several years.
"It's a way to connect back to the first people and acknowledge
their agricultural heritage," Lobe tells Landry. "There's
something that resonates culturally when we share a heritage seed
that has been reclaimed."
For our purpose, to practice is not to work towards perfection or
to achieve a goal, but to engage in activity that is its own reward.
We believe these activities are the natural habits and rituals birthed
by the Spirit of God, inherent to God's creative work.
Earth Land Recovery Project
The mission of the White Earth Land Recovery Project is to facilitate
the recovery of the original land base of the White Earth Indian
Reservation while preserving and restoring traditional practices
of sound land stewardship, language fluency, community development,
and strengthening our spiritual and cultural heritage.