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Cherokee heirloom crops from the Trail Of Tears era (1830s)

 
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Greetings family and friends! I'm looking for assistance on researching on different types of crops, corn, beans, squash, sunflowers, etc for my Cherokee garden for next year to honor my grandma from Oklahoma in the 1800s. I've grew a few so far including a black bean, cushaw, yellow tomato and a some type of sunflower, perennial one that belong to the tribe. I'm also looking for an annual sunflower, lima or runner bean, sweet potato, elephant garlic, watermelon, flint corn and a couple types of sweet corn to help build a stronger Cherokee garden. I wanna find out which strains still exist from the 1830s or before that. Thanks!
 
pioneer
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This sounds really cool. Are you looking specifically for Cherokee-only varieties, only Oklahoma varieties?

NativeSeedSearch has many varieties, not sure if they have any Cherokee/Oklahoma specific.
Baker Creek might have some too.  

Good luck with your search.
 
Blake Lenoir
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I'm looking for Cherokee types originally grown from Georgia, North Carolina, the Midwest and Oklahoma. Here's what I'm looking for to grow next year. Corn: 1. Cherokee white flour corn, 2. Cherokee yellow flour corn, 3. Cherokee long ear popcorn, 4. Cherokee Trail of Tears corn,5. another type of (Cherokee sweet corn since I have the blue and white one) and 6. a Cherokee dent corn from Iowa. Beans: 1. Cherokee October bush bean, 2.Cherokee Turkey Gizzard bean, 3. Cherokee half runner bean, 4 Cherokee lima or butterbean and 5. Cherokee-Potawatomi bean  (if it's ever found). Squash: 1. Georgia candy roaster,  2. Cherokee white scallop squash and 3. Dutch Fork pumpkin (similar to old timey, but use more of). Watermelon: Cherokee strain of Moon and Stars. Okra: Green. Cowpea: Whipporwill. That's about it for now, but I'm looking for regular and sweet potatoes, elephant garlic, onion and possibly amererenth and and a few annual sunflowers to help complete my Cherokee garden for next year to honor my late grandma proudly. You have any idea of anymore Cherokee heirlooms that used to grow in the Midwest at all?
 
pollinator
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Seed Savers (www.seedsavers.org) has a "Cherokee trail of tears" bean that was carried by Cherokee people on their forced march west.
 
pollinator
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Have you tried native groups on Facebook? Cheyenne trails and tales is one such group.
 
Blake Lenoir
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I already got a Trail Of Tear bean and a Trail of Tear white corn, but I'm looking for the original Cherokee Trail Of Tear corn from Jimmy Carter who was president in the 70s. You all know anybody who has that type of corn beside Seed Saver? You all know also about a Cherokee cushaw and some gourds that have grown westward. I'm growing some Cherokee yellow tomatoes and green stripe cushaw near my greenhouse at my community farm this year.
 
J Youngman
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Native seeds has an interesting gourd: "Lagenaria siceraria.  A tiny bilobal or dipper gourd used for crafts and as rattles by the Native American Church. Plants are incredibly prolific. Smaller vines and leaves allowing it to mature faster than most gourd varieties. An extremely popular gourd!  From our Seed Bank Collection. 
Origin: high desert in Colorado, but said to be originally from Oklahoma at lower elevation."

Baker Creek has the Georgia Candy Roaster squash.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Excellent! I wanna find out if there are Midwest strains of Cherokee crops from Iowa or Missouri? Anybody know of any Cherokee strain of sweet or regular potatoes? I'm looking for more Native American regular and sweet potatoes besides the wilder ones such as man of the earth and sunchokes and are there any out there?
 
pollinator
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I'd actually second Native Seed Search as a possible resource, not for the seeds themselves, but for contacts and ideas.

The group has worked hard to help keep alive or even revive and share seeds from multiple tribes, both in the SW USA and also Northern Mexico, and if you can get in touch with some of the folks there, they might have some more ideas of some groups or even some individuals who might have some of the knowledge you are looking for, you know?

Their contact info can be found here: https://www.nativeseeds.org/pages/contact-native-seeds

 
Blake Lenoir
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Were there some Kickapoo and Potawatomi strains from Mexico? I'm looking for that Kickapoo white bean among others. Any other crops from Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma from the Cherokee including okra, onion and a type of sweet corn such as Anastazi which has used in Oklahoma. Speaking of Oklahoma, are there any heirlooms grown by the Cherokee?
 
J Youngman
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Not sure what will be in stock right now but I know Baker Creek and Seed Savers as well as many others offer different heirloom sweet potato varieties.

If you have not grown Ground Nut, Apios americana I would recommend it. It has grown well for me here in North TX.

 
Blake Lenoir
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I've got groundnut in my backyard in Chicago, my hometown. I wanna find out if the Cherokee have grown other types of dent corn such as Hickory cane and regular gourdseed. I'm growing a unique Cherokee perennal sunflower at my community farm in my plot.
 
Blake Lenoir
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I'm also looking for help in finding late season types for Cherokee crops, especially in onions, garlic, beans, okra, and stuff. I wanna find which types of mushrooms did the Cherokee had centuries ago and which types did they have years ago?
 
Mk Neal
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Hi Blake, I am in Chicago also, and have been looking for local indigenous varieties.  I did discover Great Lakes Staple Seeds based in Michigan which has some Potawatomi and Kickapoo beans and lots of native squashes.  It is a small operation looks to be mostly out of stock at this point in the year, though.  I plan to check in the fall and see what they have for next year.
 
Blake Lenoir
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What's happening MK! I'm from the southside growing for the Potawatomi, Miami, Peoria, Kickapoo and Sauk nations for the Calumet region. This year for the Cherokee I'm growing some Trail Of Tear beans, Green striped cushaw, yellow tomato, cutleaf coneflower and a perennial type of sunflower from Kansas or North Carolina at my community farm and backyard. I might share a little bit of my Illinois red seed watermelon and Miami white flour corn to send you sometime in the future when the time's right. Anybody else know of any last minute types of Cherokee crops that I could grow for this summer or fall?
 
Mk Neal
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I’d love to get some seeds, Blake, and share them with our neighborhood seed library.  I am up on the north side near Pottawattomie Park (yes, that is how Chicago Park District spells it).

Let me know if you would like any native fruits or flowers; I have some pawpaws and black raspberries and a lot of native flowers.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Do I have any way to reach you? I live across the street from Shafer Park in my South Chicago Neighborhood. You welcome to come on by my farm across the street. My group is called Urban Grower's Collective. What's your group?
 
Mk Neal
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I'm part of Rogers Park Seed Library, webpage it's kind of new, just getting started when the pandemic kind of shut everything down :( .   Would love to collaborate in some way. I'll send you my contact info through "purple mooseage"

I'm also in the facebook group "Chicago Activist Gardeners," but I do not spend a lot of time on facebook.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Mk, you heard of beans such as Ohio pole, Potawatomi Lima and Miami-Potawatomi cranberry bean before? I've grown those last year for my Calumet garden for the Potawatomi and Miami at my farm. I also have Potawatomi cowpea and black coat runner which came from the French who entered the Great Lakes from Mexico after they carried the beans with them, and traded with the tribes in the region. Black coat runner is named from the tribes  that saw the bean that looked like a Jesuit robe worn by French priests who carry them every day in their villages.
 
Mk Neal
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Blake Lenoir wrote: Mk, you heard of beans such as Ohio pole, Potawatomi Lima and Miami-Potawatomi cranberry bean before? I've grown those last year for my Calumet garden for the Potawatomi and Miami at my farm. I also have Potawatomi cowpea and black coat runner which came from the French who entered the Great Lakes from Mexico after they carried the beans with them, and traded with the tribes in the region. Black coat runner is named from the tribes  that saw the bean that looked like a Jesuit robe worn by French priests who carry them every day in their villages.



I haven't, but I would love to try growing them.  I am just beginning to expand my veg plantings beyond catalogs.  I am also just taking baby steps into seed saving, and have been thinking that the best seeds to save would be what people grew here before the modern mail system made it possible to buy and ship seeds from anywhere.  E.g. the crops people grew before must have reliably set seed each year in our particular climate, and I'm not sure that's true with many of the catalog heirloom varieties that come from the western or southern U.S.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Back again! You all heard of a Cherokee elephant garlic from a hunter in Georgia? I'm interested in planting one of those in my Cherokee collection as well as whippoorwill cowpea, green okra, Cherokee moon and stars watermelon, Cherokee October bean, Cherokee runner, Trail Of Tears corn, one that Jimmy Carter has, candy roaster, and some type of Cherokee potato or sweet potato. I'm looking for somebody who has those beside Southern Seed, Baker Creek and few others. I just went to my community farm today to see my old timey pumpkin and Trail Of Tear beans and grown terrifically. Anybody has a strain of Dutch Fork pumpkin to grow for next year?
 
pollinator
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If anyone is aware of Cherokee landraces of vining summer squash, please let me know. I'm in the process of looking for strains of Cucurbita pepo squash that have primary genetic ancestry to Ozark squash (Cucurbita pepo ozarkana) from the Eastern Agricultural Complex.
 
Blake Lenoir
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The only thing close to it is the Stripe Maycock squash from seed saver and collector Stephen Smith of Roughwood Seed in Philadelphia, and according to him, that pre Columbian small pumpkin used to be grown widespread in the eastern half of America east of the Mississippi by many tribes. It look like a Mandan squash, but with white stripes on the maple shape leaves. You can eat them while they young, but they mature into the same colors of the Mandan in the fall, and can be used as a gourd or be used as a late soup. Mine has done extremely well at my community farm so far. I planted around my teepee a couple of months ago. Google more to learn more about my stripe Maycock or find it in one of my forms. Out!
 
Blake Lenoir
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Hello folks! I was wondering which types of potatoes the Cherokee planted years ago, as well as sweet potatoes. You all heard of man of the earth or wild sweet potato? Missed you all from the last few weeks!
 
Blake Lenoir
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Hello! Anybody still in? Been waiting for more ideas to share with me to help make my 1830s Cherokee garden better for next year to make it become more pre-Columbian and authentic as it can be for all Cherokee peoples to better honor their horticultural past in a classic and organic way.
 
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Many of the Appalachian peoples grew and saved some of the early Cherokee seed varieties, some of these are available at Sustainable Mountain Agriculture site..   https://www.heirlooms.org/
 
The descriptions aren't detailed, but you may find some of the beans and others you might be looking for, and it is a good "overlook" of the traditions of heirlooms.. the site has a few informative articles explaining the cultural whys of "greasy beans" and "short cut" beans...worth a look.
Also, this site https://www.appalachianheirloomplantfarm.com/  has some very hard to find varieties.
And one local to me,  https://www.wrightsdaylily.com/beans.html
they also have tomatoes, corn, etc. Good to support any of these seed savers as they are doing great work.
Some of the seeds in these three links have been saved by families for nearly 150 years, so they may be indeed more closely related to what you are looking for, reading the descriptions takes me back (way back, say early 1960's) to listening to the old folks talk about gardening and seeds.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Were the greasy beans being used by the settlers before and during Lincoln's time centuries ago? I'm growing an Illinois white crookneck pumpkin grown by Lincoln's family helping to bring back memories of settler agricultural life to my community and region. Did Lincoln or any of his family members grew the bean back then from his birthplace in Kentucky to the place he began his political career in Illinois? And did any other tribe besides the Cherokee use the greasy bean?
 
Blake Lenoir
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What's up family! Back on this post to report y'all my latest harvest of Trail Of Tear beans and one of my old timey pumpkins. How we eat the Trail Of Tear beans as green beans? And how we eat the old timey pumpkin as a zuccini or a young summer squash?  Heard of Dutch fork pumpkins before? If you all have, then I'd like to have some if any of you have them.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Hello! Anybody in?
 
Blake Lenoir
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Hey there! Just here to report on the success of my old timey cornfield pumpkins. Some have became as large as a bucket, while others are a little larger than a bowling ball. Anybody has any recipes and stuff for old timey as well for the overall history of the Dutch Fork pumpkin? If anybody has grown old timey or Dutch Fork this year show me some pictures of your sucessful harvests of them!
 
gardener
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Hi Blake - I love what you are doing and I’m going to bookmark this thread for future reference. I don’t currently have any land to grow the plants your talking about, but that will change in a year or two. I’m inspired by indigenous writers like Robin Wall Kimmerer and want to try out the three daughters planting methods. So much of what I read and hear gives me real hope that the reciprocal relationship between permaculture and indigenous practices grows and thrives. Keep asking and searching.
 
Blake Lenoir
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Edward! How are you my friend? I'm glad that you come here to learn about Native American gardening and permaculture! I have been growing three sisters for three years now and getting better so far. The tribes that I'm focusing so far locally in Chicago are the Miami, Potawatomi, Peoria, Kickapoo and Sac-Fox as well as Cherokee to honor my late grandma in Oklahoma in the 1800s this year and next. Met Ms Kimmerer in person before?
 
Edward Norton
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I’m good thanks! My life gets richer everytime I visit this site. I’m laughing at writing three daughters, not three sisters! I haven’t met Ms Kimmerer but her audiobooks are good friends, so she speaks to me most days.
 
Blake Lenoir
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I'd love to see her one day in real life, God willing. I've just read one of her other books about tall grass prairies and stuff about it. You have grown any veggies or fruits in your yard before? I'm trying to live substainably as I can. You ever read a book of Buffalo Woman which is about Native American gardening?
 
Edward Norton
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I’m renting and don’t have much outdoor space, so I grow herbs and plants in containers. I have an experimental mushroom plot, converting woodchip to compost via wine cap mushrooms. I’ve been collecting fruit stones and pips for the past six months and will sow them this fall in pots to take with me when I find a place of my own. I would love to grow pawpaw at some point. I too, want to live a more sustainable life and live in a community with like minded people, or people who are open to having me as a neighbour - I’m not interested in lawns . . .  

I will add Buffalo Woman to my reading list - thank you for the suggestion. I’ve read Braiding Sweetgrass and Gathering Moss - both wonderful books.
 
Blake Lenoir
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You also heard of a book called "The Lost Ways"? It's a book that teaches folks about what the pioneers used from the field and using stuff from plants for medicine, food, manufacturing and stuff and that's what we need during these difficult times when stuff gets more and more scarce out there. God please watch over us!
 
Blake Lenoir
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Anybody grown any candy roaster squash this year? I'm looking for some to grow for next year if there's anybody out there who has some. And what of the Cherokee watermelons, potatoes, cowpeas and stuff from their western part of their range?
 
Blake Lenoir
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Long time no see! Anybody heard of a wildwood pumpkin from the Georgia Cherokee?
 
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Blake, are you also considering perennials that the Cherokee grew, such as improved honey locust trees?
 
Blake Lenoir
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I just had some in the cutleaf coneflower, milkweed, sunflower, blue indigo and others that come back each year.
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