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Seeds (heirlooms) of the Illinois and Miami tribes

 
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Greetings friends and family. Blake here to ask for some assistance in seeking more types of heirloom crops from the Miami and Illinois nations, besides the Miami and Tamaroa white flour corn, Ohio pole beans, Potawatomi-Miami cranberry beans, Miami spotted pumpkin, Illinois cushaw, Miami cornfield beans, Illinois red seed watermelon and Gete Okosomin, which I already have, but searching for more. I'm focusing on the Calumet region of Chicago and Indiana, off the shores of southern Lake Michigan, which is where I'm from. I work at a community farm in neighborhood in Chicago, where I educate folks about indigenous food and medicine to help heal the earth to bring better health to all. Please let me know if there's anybody out there who has these resources to offer me. Thanks always!
 
pollinator
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https://www.nativeseeds.org/ focuses on tribes in the southwest, but they might know who to contact for info on the midwestern tribes.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Hey Ellendra. I've already tried the folks over in Arizona, and one of them told me to go to Seed Saver out in Iowa or Dream of Wild Heath in Minnesota for Midwest heirlooms. I did what I could to find more landraces or strains of Illinois and Miami crops to aid my restoration gardening effforts. There was a guy named John White from the Ancient Lifeways Institute in Illinois, who died 14 and a half years ago, did his very best to restore true Illinois culture back into this modern time. He had a close friend, Barry Haglan a fellow seed saver like John, came from Iowa told me the Illinois grown black sweet corn, Tamaroa flour and flint corn, lima bush beans, red seed watermelon, cushaw squash, yellow crookneck, wild tobacco, sunchoke, and possibly Shawnee sunset squash. There was also a gal from the Miami nation who told me her people grown Miami tan pumpkins and blue and red flint corn out in Indiana. I'm looking for many heirlooms as I can to collect to help not only save, but also give back to future generations of the Miami and Peoria nations both in Indiana and Oklahoma. I'm looking for more quality sources and stuff to help me quickly to bulid a very strong foundation to brighten the future of not only my community, but to the Native American communities and beyond to make greater society that's totally substainable and independent from big ag and big pharm to help heal our overall land. Much love and thanks!
 
Blake Lenoir
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Hello? Anybody there? I'm looking for more types of corn from both the Miami and Illinois nations besides, Miami and Tamaroa white flour corn, Tamaroa flint, Tamaroa red stripe flour corn and a black sweet corn (aka black Mexican), according to the late John White from the Ancient Lifeways Institute in Illinois, who died 14 years ago? You all know Mr White at all? Thanks!
 
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Fascinating project. Wish I could help more but I did add this thread to seeds forum. This source for wild rice might meet your criteria.
 
Blake Lenoir
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I don't have nowhere to put wild rice, cause my future pond will be too narrow and the water will need cleaner conditions in order for it to surrive. I'm focusing primarily on corn, beans, squash, watermelon, sunflower, pumpkins and tobacco for both of the tribes I've mentioned. Have you heard of Leonard Blake and his expertise on corn? You also read about Corn Of The Upper Missouri River by George and Will Hyde? Check it out!
 
Mike Barkley
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No, I've never heard of Leonard Blake or the Hydes. My knowledge of & experience with growing corn is minimal. I've been fairly successful with Cherokee popcorn though. Cherokee tomatoes are my favorite tomato to eat but they are tough to grow. Grew some Illinois cushata squash for the first time this year & they did good. Seminole pumpkins usually do very well for me here in TN. Tried some Trail of Tears beans this year but they struggled. I recently learned that sunroots (sunchokes) are mildly allelopathic so that might have been their problem. Was trying to grow those beans up the sunroot stalks.

I enjoy growing heirloom & regionally important plants but if there's only one thing I've learned from Joseph Lofthouse & others here on permies it's that genetic diversity is key to successful long term gardens.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Happy 2021 to all the family on this forum! Back again to reach out to those who have historic sources and documentations of the ethnobotany of the Miami and Illinois nations to this day. I'm also looking for those who are Peoria, Kaskaskia, Wea or Miami descent out there who know the agricultural history of both nations and the varieties of crops they grow centuries ago. Those of descent or those who have collected and saved native American seeds from the Midwest and Great Lakes, be welcome on this forum to share feedback, updates, ideas and stuff. I'm doing a community restoration garden project in my neighborhood to help not only restore, but return these heirlooms to their rightful owners in their present homelands. Please join on right away if you're of Illinois or Miami descent in this effort. Thanks!
 
pollinator
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Have you tried reaching out to the American Indian Center in Chicago?  They have some gardening projects and might be able to put you in contact with gardeners from these tribes.

https://aicchicago.org/first-nations-community-garden/
 
Blake Lenoir
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I already have been in touch with them, and they said they don't know much about the folks from the Miami or Peoria about any ethnobotany. I've also tried to reach out these folks about the types of corn and stuff from both tribes, and here's what I came up. For the Peoria, I got Shawnee white flour corn, Miami pole bean and Gete Okosomin squash, next is the rest of the Illinois Confederation. 1. Illinois cushaw squash, 2. Illinois red seed watermelon, 3. Illinois Tamaroa white flour corn, 4. Illinois Tamaroa red stripe  flour corn, 5. Illinois Tamaroa flint corn, 6. Black Mexican or Illinois black sweet corn, and 7. Genuine cornfield bean. I'm missing some Jackson Wonder Lima bush bean which is said to be grown from the Illinois and other tribes in the Midwest, as well as possibly Shawnee sunset squash and few others the Illinois use to grow that I'm trying to look for. I'm looking for more types of corn, beans, squash and stuff from the Inoka (Illinois).  Next is the Miami. 1. Miami white flour corn, 2. Gete Okosomin, 3. Miami tan pumpkin, 4. Miami spotted pumpkin, 5. Miami gray pumpkin, 6. Miami or Ohio pole bean, 7. Miami cornfield bean, and 8. Miami cranberry bean. The Miami use to grow many types of corn other than the white corn, which is sacred to them, ranging from light to dark types of corn including black and blue corn. I've been on the Myaamia ethnobotany website sponsored by the Myaamia center at Miami university in Ohio, to check out some good details on domestic and wild plants in Miami territory. This was directed by Mike Gonella an ethnobotanist from California who helped the Miami center with their research on historic plants. You should check him out, along with the website. By the way are you Miami or from one of the former Illinois bands including the Peoria and Kaskaskia by chance? If you are, then tell me about yourself? I'm a community farmer from the south side of Chicago, who's working his butt off to reserect the agricultural and ecological glory of not only of both tribes, but for the Potawatomi and others that use to live in the Calumet region of Chicago and Indiana, from off the shores of Lake Michigan. I'd like to hear from you soon. Much love!
 
Mk Neal
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I have no ties to the native peoples of Illinois; I am just a squatter on Pottowattomi land here.  I am interested in finding heritage crops from the area, though.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Potawatomi crops here goes! 1. Potawatomi or Walpole Island white flour corn, 2. Mskigwat or Potawatomi red flint corn, 3. Potawatomi white flint corn, 4. Potawatomi red dent corn, 5. Potawatomi blue popcorn, 6. Potawatomi mix or white flour corn from Kansas, 7. Miami white flour corn (being traded to other neighboring tribes), 8. Red Lake flint corn, 9. Anishinabe strawberry popcorn, 10. Anishinabe pink corn, 11. Calico sweet corn, 12. Ojibwe Bear Island flint corn, 13. Ojibwe red flint corn, 14. Ohio pole or Potawatomi pole bean, 15. Potawatomi Lima bean, 16. Miami-Potawatomi cranberry pole bean, 17. Odawa bush bean,  18. Odawa pole bean, 19. Ojibwe black bean, 20. Scarlet red runner or bear paw bean, 21. Genuine cornfield bean, 22. Potawatomi cowpea, 24. Gete Okosomin squash, 25. Potawatomi pumpkin, 26. Potawatomi cushaw squash, 27. Miami spotted pumpkin, 28. Menominee squash, 29. Yellow crookneck, 30. White scallop, 31. Potawatomi red seed watermelon, 32. Potawatomi tobacco, 33. Ojibwe pink flower Tobacco, 34. Cherokee Potawatomi bean, 35. Sunchoke, 36. Groundnut, 37. Common milkweed, 38. Black Eye Susan (rubeckia hirta), 39. Prairie or white sage and 40. Sweet grass. Big list huh? Hope that keep you mighty full for now. Out!
 
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Wow Blake what a great list and just what I’ve been looking for. I’m at the bottom of the state near Carbondale and will be growing some of these I hope starting this year.  I’m living on 9 acres of land belonging to the Potawatomi, Osage, Myami, Kickapoo and Shawnee. The garden area will grow gradually as fruit trees and guilds are my priority this first year here.As part of my giving back I would love to have children visit and see all the native varieties and learn about the people who lived here. I honor what you are doing and hope to visit your garden. Keep us posted on what you’re learning and thanks for sharing.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Yvonne! How you been? I've been working hard to which varieties of Native American and early settler heirlooms fit culturally, climatically, indigenously and authentically to the Calumet region of Chicago and Indiana, off the shores of southern Lake Michigan. My main concentration are the Potawatomi, Miami, Illinois (Peoria, Kaskaskia and Michigamea), Ojibwe, Odawa, Kickapoo, Sauk and Ho-Chunk regionally, and Cherokee to honor my late grandmother from Oklahoma from my father's side. You know or heard of John White from Ancient Lifeways Institute in downstate Michael who died 15 years ago? And do you also know his kids, Karli, Jonah and Mark who are still alive to this day? You know of anybody who's of Kaskaskia or half Kaskaskia descent being alive today, along with the Peoria, Miami and Wea peoples?
 
Yvonne Scott
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I do not know these folks but will do some research. My blood line is pretty thin and a guesstimate that my great grandfather was half Shawnee or mixed. He was born not far from where I’m living which feels rather surreal. I will start small this year my first year of stewardship and expand as I learn more. A 3 sisters garden is on the plan for sure—-if I can make a deal with the wild neighbors to leave some for me and the kids. You know how deer can be 😀
 
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... fascinating thread and subject! - wondering if these native plants would outperform modern cultivars; am attempting to raise 100% of food supply (far west central IN) and it would feel appropriate reuniting land and traditional food crops (emphasis on winter storage).

.... on 67 diverse acres (upland grass/woods/river bottomland) - often envision a reconstructed native village here... living non-electric/non-solar ('Amish) so it may be an easy step      

.... grew up near Kankakee (Bourbonnais); a granite boulder in a wooded area close to home was inscribed 'last camp of Potawatomies - 1848'.....  So sad....
 
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Longshot here, but have you tried contacting a museum or archeology type group? There has to be someone out there who has studied and researched this. The Smithsonian?
 
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You might try checking the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, for help on this, too.

Also, check with the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.  They do a lot with heritage plants and vegetables.  https://www.southernexposure.com/  They might also be interested in helping you continue some of the strains they might not have.

Dave
 
Blake Lenoir
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Happy summer everyone! I'm looking for more Illinois red seed watermelon and Illinois Tamaroa flint corn for next year. I wanna find out if you all know Mark White who's the sun of the late John White from Ancient Lifeways in Illinois years ago. If any of you know him please let me know. Out!
 
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I just responded to your other post. Have you tried contacting a few of the Canadian tribes also? Mind, a lot of Canadian Algonquians are pretty messed up-- some of those reservations are considered the worst in Canada & many of them don't have traditional foods & what have you-- but there are still quite a few Anishinaabeg, Cree & Metis between Lake Huron & the Great Plains on that side of the border that have their shit together, for the most part.

You can also try contacting the Fauk/ Sauk, Iowa & Mohegan nearby in the US & see what they can do. I get Chicago has an oddly large & varied Native population, so I have no clue how what they do have would differ from the main reservations, but I just figured it was worth a try. Iowa/ Oto/ Missouria all descended directly from the Ho-Chunk. The Fauk, Sauk & Mohegan came from further away, but maybe the other tribes gifted them food crops & they still have some of them?
 
Blake Lenoir
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I haven't reached out to these folks from Canada about heirlooms. You know about the folks from Walpole Island between Detroit and Windsor? One of the crops I'm looking from there is the Walpole Island white corn for my Potawatomi garden for next year along with other Potawatomi heirlooms. You know of any Potawatomi from Walpole Island? I've also been in touch with some folks from the Myaamia and Peoria nations about their crop history but their knowledge is average right now. You also know of any Wea, Myaamia, Peoria or Kaskaskia descendents in Canada right now?
 
D Tucholske
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Sorry, I don't know anything about Walpole Island other than generally where it is.

There wouldn't be Wabash or Miami as a group. I believe there is Anishinaabeg, Cree, Huron, Iroquois, Nanticoke, Nipissing, Montagnais/ Naskapi, Algonquian Nation, Metis, Dakota & some Abenaki up there across Eastern Canada. The Dakota group in question have a reservation right across the US-Canada border into Minnesota. The Algonquian & certain of the Anishinaabeg, to my knowledge, are in the worst shape.

I don't know any of these people personally- I got a lot of my info from FNX documentaries, First Nations' Experience Channel, if you don't have that one in Chicago. They started broadcasting as a public PBS side channel here about 2 yrs ago, but I think they're run by tribes from southern California.
 
Mk Neal
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Blake, regarding "strawberry popcorn," I found the page below about origins of a particular commercial variety.  Seems that a popcorn farmer was originally given the seed by an unidentified neighbor near Rockford IL.  There's no tribal attribution, but given the location seems likely that this could be the Potawatomi strain.  Looks like his son is still growing and selling this variety.

Red Strawberry Popcorn
 
Blake Lenoir
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You sure it's a Potawatomi strain? And what about for early or sweet corn as recorded from Huron Smith's Ethnobotany Of The Forest Potawatomi book? Any more strains of Potawatomi corn not being mentioned besides red flint, white flint, white flour and a blue popcorn which I have from a guy from Indiana who knows some Potawatomi folks?
 
Mk Neal
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It's an heirloom strawberry popcorn that originated in Northeastern Illinois, which was Potawatomi land.  Seems like if the Potawatomi were known to grow this type of corn, then this is probably descended from the Potawatomi strain. Maybe the grower could tell if the original seed they got in the 1960s may have come from Potawatomi growers.  

Sorry I don't know about the other varieties.  
 
Blake Lenoir
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Anybody else know of anymore Potawatomi strains of sweet or early corn that I could grow for next year? I've tried to find some early corn for the Potawatomi, Miami or Illinois nations, but no luck at all in terms of research. Anybody researched more varieties of Potawatomi corn not being mentioned today by the tribe and being found commercially besides the red popcorn?
 
Blake Lenoir
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Has anybody grown some Illinois Tamaroa flint or white flour corn before? I've grown some last year but got a ears. Anybody grown more ears on either corn this year?
 
Blake Lenoir
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Hello! Anybody in? I been searching far and wide for more types of Miami and Illinois corn that have been grown throughout their historic range in the Midwest as well as beans, squash, watermelon, melon, sunflower and tobacco that I'm desperately looking for to help improve my gardens with. Out!
 
Blake Lenoir
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By the way, anybody out there has anymore Ohio pole, Miami-Powatawomi cranberry bean, Miami white flour corn and few other Miami or Illinois tribal seeds they don't need anymore so some or all can be sent to me to help continue to invest in native domestic varieties to help reclaim my local growing culture in my community at my farm. Please contact me right here at this box if anybody has some to offer me this fall.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Back again to find out if any of you know about the Theokiki River Traders a seed group that trade seeds to other sources and stuff?
 
Blake Lenoir
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Hello ! Anybody alive on this board?
 
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are you creating a new seed bank?
 
Blake Lenoir
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Sort of, I 'm just researching and collecting as many types of Potawatomi (Three Fires Confederation), Miami and Illinois crops and as well as  some others from the Sauk, Kickapoo, Ho-Chunk nations and European settlers who all used to range in my Calumet region of Chicago and Indiana off the shores of southern Lake Michigan as well as some Cherokee and others from my grandmother's time in Oklahoma in the 1800s. I'm collecting and preserving these seeds for future generations to come and build back a food heritage my ancestors and others had before.
 
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Hello check with NOTRE DAME collage in South Bend Indiana or John Sherck  from Bristol Indiana you can find him on Face Book .I'm pretty sure both can help you. Also check with Pokagon Band of Potawatomi in South Bend Indiana. Osda En Wa'do'se!
 
Blake Lenoir
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You know Gary Morseau Sr from the Pokagon? Anybody else you know from the Potawatomi in Indiana?
 
Blake Lenoir
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Back again to report you some good news about one of my beans. My Ohio pole has some nice and amazing purple color on half the outer part and some are large. I'll show a picture sometime.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Back again! Anybody heard of a Miami spotted pumpkin before? I've grown it again this year, but no fruit so far. There's another Miami squash that's in the same family as the spotted and that's the tan pumpkin which I reccived from a Miami woman over the winter and it's done well! Show some pictures if you planted the spotted this year and I'll show my picture of my tan pumpkins on this post!
 
Blake Lenoir
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Hello anybody here to update me with more stuff from the Miami or Illinois nations in terms of domestic or wild plants and their relationship with them?
 
D Tucholske
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The only new one I've been able to verify was an heirloom pumpkin called Boston Marrow Winter Squash. Researchers were able to track that it came from an unknown Native people who were living around Buffalo, NY around the Revolutionary War, but I believe it was the Saponi-Tutelo, surprisingly. Called Boston Marrow because, at some point, a horticultural club in Boston got their hands on it some time in the 1800s & they made it famous.

Basically, there was a group of Saponi living with the Iroquois during the Revolution. When Washington salted all the fields & burned the villages, many Iroquois regrouped near Buffalo, NY around that time & the Saponi chief among them agreed to go out with his people & find a place to replant their fields nearby. I was kind of shocked when I put 2 & 2 together there & realized those were ours, lol. Bought some myself for my brother to plant, as he said he wanted to try pumpkins next year.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Are you Saponi-Tutelo descent?
 
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