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Buffalo Woman’s Garden

 Buffalo Woman’s Garden: Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians

      What a delightfully engaging record of the  life and habits of the gardening that took place in North Dakota during the mid 1800s! The book is unique in the world of gardening literature because of the detail it goes into about the cultural reasons for what is done. I think it is interesting to look at how culture and food evolved together.  The book was written by anthropologist Gilbert Wilson in 1917 who was wise enough to recognize the need to preserve the wisdom of Buffalo Bird Woman. This book is full of recipes, stories, ceremonies, and gardening advice that is still useful today.

The book was full of different stories about how the community worked together to grow the food and the time and care they spent caring for their crop. The compared taking care of the garden to taking care of children, and had booths that they made in order to sing to help the garden grow and tease the young men who were walking by. The women would sit on these booths and scare away little boys who tried to steal ears of green corn and birds. Time revolved around what was ready in the garden, squash being picked every four days and after so many cycles of picking squash it would be green corn time. There were specific geometrical patterns for planting seeds and specific places to plant corn so it did not cross pollinate. When the corn was ready,  the clan of young men who would come help with the husking and there would be a large feast to thank them. The gardens with the prettiest girls always got the most help during harvest time. Disputes over land did not happening often and it was thought bad luck to argue over garden space.

There was lots of advice on where to plant the crops in accordance with every year, and how to tell when the corn is ripe without peeling back the ear. It explained how to start seeds and dry squash. There are instructions for making meal and how to keep food fresh. This book is wonderful because from it you could start your own garden in very easily. There are blue prints, tips and detailed instructions about each step of the specific plants life.

This book was a quick read and very interesting. I would give it a 9 out of 10 in interesting cultural information revolving around gardening and methods for growing delicious and sustainable foods.


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