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Seneca: The Three Sisters

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Longhouse re-enactment

Modern day agriculturists know the Three Sisters as the genius of the Indians, who interplanted pole beans and squash with corn, using the strength of the sturdy corn stalks to support the twining beans and the shade of the spreading squash vines to trap moisture for the growing crop.


Research has further revealed the additional benefits of this "companion planting.'' The bacterial colonies on the bean roots capture nitrogen from the air, some of which is released into the soil to nourish the high nitrogen needs of the corn.


To Native Americans, however, the meaning of the Three Sisters runs deep into the physical and spiritual well-being of their people. Known as the "sustainers of life," the Iroquois consider corn, beans and squash to be special gifts from the Creator. The well-being of each crop is believed to be protected by one of the Three Sister Spirits. Many an Indian legend has been woven around the "Three Sisters" -sisters who would never be apart from one another- sisters who should be planted together, eaten together and celebrated together.


A little about herbs:


Most Indians had a good knowledge of herbs. Various roots and plants known only to themselves were used--these were profound secrets. The bark of numerous trees were use. All of these were prepared and into different compounds for use in many ways. Many Indian medicines have found their way into modern medical practice.