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Introducing The Three Sacred Sisters

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    Posted: 09 May 2012 at 08:38

For Native Americans, corn, beans, and squash were the very stuff of survival. So important was their role as foodstuffs that they were called the Three Sacred Sisters.

Wherever agriculture was practiced the Three Sisters were planted together. Later on we’d understand the synergism that made this work. Each of the three benefitted from the others while contributing to the whole. For instance, the cornstalks provided support for the beans, which in turn set nitrogen in the soil for the corn to consume. The squash became a living mulch, that shaded the ground, reducing weed growth and conserving moisture. The squash also helped deter deer, who don’t like walking through the prickly vines.

Cornell did some studies, a few years back. They planted a three acre field as a Three Sisters patch. Nearby they planted each of the varieties used in separate one-acre fields. The result: The Three Sisters patch produced 35% more usably biomass than the three separate plantings.

Native Americans weren’t much on theory. They just knew what worked!

There are two models of Three Sisters planting. The first is the Algonquian model; first only because Europeans contacted it first. The supposed method is to plant corn, surround it with beans, then plant squash in the spaces between.

Native Americans, and, consequently, early settlers, did not plant in furrowed rows. Instead they constructed hills. These were roughly 18 inches high, and two to three feet in diameter. Hills were spaced four feet apart.

The exact method used by Eastern tribes isn’t really known. Early observers were not trained anthropologists. Rather they were travelers and settlers who recorded their observations in journals. A typical entry: “The Natives interplant their corn, beans, and pompions.”

Pompion is a variant of pumpkin, and Europeans referred to all winter squashes that way. The problem is with the word “interplant,” as it has several possible meanings.

Whether right or wrong, the Algonquian model has come to mean this: Corn is planted in the rounded top of the hill. After it sprouts, beans are planted further down the sidewalls of the hills. This allows the corn a running start before the beans start growing up the stalks. Pumpkins or other squash are then planted at ground level, between the hills.

The Missourian model is different. And, unlike the Algonquian model, we have a precise description of it by a trained anthropologist. Gilbert Wilson spent more than a year living with the Hidatsa, observing and recording the process. His main source of info was a woman who’d grown up in pre-reservation days, and lived through the early- and later-reservation periods. So she was able to relate the differences between how she did things and how her aunts and mother had done them.

The whole episode is recorded in a book called Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in Native American agriculture.

With the Missourian model, hills are constructed in off-set rows, with the rows four feet apart. First corn is planted in every other row. Once all the corn is set, they’d go back and plant beans in the alternate rows. By the time the bean vines spread across the intervening spaces the corn was tall enough and strong enough to support it. The squash were planted in a perimeter frame to deter deer.

From a horticultural viewpoint, the Missourian model actually makes more sense. But it takes a lot of room, and isn’t suitable for most home gardens. The Algonquian model, on the other hand, is suitable for small patches. You have to be careful, however, to not overplant the beans, because they can choke out the corn if you do. And you want to allow the corn at least three weeks of growth before setting the beans.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 09:45
Nice write upThumbs Up

I've made Three Sisters Soup many times over the last three years. It was a dish my son introduced me to during his first year of university when he took a Native Studies course. Everyone I've shared the soup or recipe with has enjoyed it immensely.

I always did like the story of the three sisters.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 09:56
Brook, this is some outstanding information ~ thanks for posting.
 
the missourian model must have been used by the mandan, hidatsa and  arikara not too far from where i live, and actually very close to where my dad was born and raised. i don't know the exact dimensions of our garden plot, but i will check i can see this working, and like the perimeter" concept with the squashes. our garden is split by a path to the alley, about 2/3 of the garden on one side of the path and 1/3 on the other (maybe 3/4 to 1/4, but you get the idea). normally, i stubbornly try to plant as if the path isn't there, and every year the kids just re-make the path. i'm thinking this year perhaps i should put a three sisters plot on the large half, then plant my tomates and other plants on the other side. this might solve three problems with one stroke ~ Thumbs Up
 
darko, the three sisters soup sounds great. if you could post the recipe in the eastern canada section, i'd appreciate it - i'll need to try it this fall!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 10:31
a little more on this - i'll mention the dimensions of the "big half" of our garden and take a look at how this can work out. this might make a good running project for the summer on the forum. i've got an historical line of beans on the way to me (thanks, brook!) and will choose one or two corns as well as an assortment of squashes, possibly pumpkins, zucchini, a summer squash and a winter squash. these squashes will provide good fodder for some favourite projects, including Tök Főzelék
 and Stuffed Pumpkin, not to mention darko's three sister's soup!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 11:26
Ron; Three Sisters soup is very easy to make.  Basically, corn, beans, squash, stock, seasoning.

When my son told me about it, I did a google search as to how to make it since all he told me that it was those three vegetables & stock.

I'll dig up the original recipe that I used, and pop a new thread in the Eastern Canada section.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 11:41
sounds easy, and good!
 
if you don't have the actual recipe, that's no problem. as i recall, the algonquians and other tribes didn't have cookbooks lying around, either ~ we'll figure it out ~
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 11:56
I would guess there are as many basic versions of Three Sisters Soup as there were Native American tribes.
 
My version---adapted from various southern tribes---uses baby limas, pumpkin, and, of course, corn. Plus a few other ingredients such as onion and leek.
 
One thing to keep in mind if you're concerned with authenticity: there was no sweet corn when these soups were originated. Instead, green field corn would have been used.
 
possibly pumpkins, zucchini, a summer squash and a winter squash.
 
Ron, I can see a distinct problem with zucchini and other summer squashes. They are bush varieties, and, unless you want to build a solid wall with them, I don't see how they'd serve the function, even with the Missourian model. Pumpkins and other winter squashes are the way to go.
 
BTW, immature winter squashes serve the same culinary function as summer squashes, and can be substituted for them in most recipes. So it wouldn't be a great hardship to cut back on the zukes and yellows.  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 11:59
as i recall, the algonquians and other tribes didn't have cookbooks laying around, either
 
Sure they did. They were called great aunt Renea, and as long as her memory held...... Approve
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 12:01
looks like pumpkins and winter squashes are the way to go! i might put a zucchini somewhere (maybe in each of the corners), just for variety, or more likely just plant them "on the other side of the path" with the tomatoes etc.
 
Quote
Sure they did. They were called great aunt Renea, and as long as her memory held...... Approve
 
LOL
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote AK1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 12:17
One question Brook;  Have you found any reason for the different ways of planting between the Algonquian and Missourian methods?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 12:34
Other than geography nothing definative, Darko.
 
I can offer a guess, though. Crop for crop, the Algonquian model uses fewer hills. That might be important when you have to actually chop the ground to open the soil.
 
The Missourian model was used by tribes in the floodplain of the river, who merely mounded up the annual alluvial deposits (you like that term? Normal folks would say "silt").
 
Thus, while the Missourian model uses twice as many hills per crop, they were so easy to construct it hardly mattered how many you built, particularly once metal tools were introduced by Europeans.
 
Let me repeat, so there's no confusion: This is pure speculation on my part. I have absolutely no evidence one way or another.
 
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That makes sense!  Thanks Brook.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 12:45
used by the mandan, hidatsa and  arikara, was used not too far from where i live,
 
IIRC from my days interpreting the Fur Trade, Ron, the Upper Mandan Villages would have been close to you, near Fort Benton. The others were lower down on the river. The Hidatsa were located on the great bend of the Missouri, down around Fort Mandan, ND, and the Arikara upstream from there.
 
I can check my references if it really matters?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 May 2012 at 13:18
brook -
 
when i said "not too far from where i live," i was thinking in western terms; this is some big area, and those two points, distance-wise, are pretty far from each other. no need for references - you got me; i'm getting pretty far off-topic here, but hopefully in a good, interesting way ~ fasten your seatbelt! Big smile
 
the three tribes were definitely all in what is now north dakota (with the arikara extending down a bit to south dakota). your location for the hidatsa (also called the (eastern) gros ventres) is basically correct, but the mandan were also in the same area (as i recall, they would have been established in-between the two other tribes). the mandans were located where lewis and clark had their winter camp (1804-5).  the reservation for the three tribes is located at the northern edge of that range, but still in north dakota.
 
the cousins of the hidatsa, the atsina (otherwise known as the (western) gros ventres or, to themselves, the ah-ah-nee-nin (people of the white clay), lived farther upstream along the milk river, which is north of the missouri and where i live (the gros ventre reservation is 20 miles from home). they were a nomadic plains tribe rather than agricultural, as the other three tribes were, and due to social structure, geography, life-style and other factors, are basically considered a quite separate, though distantly-related, tribe.
 
fort benton is located farther upstream even from there, closer to great falls. there were no agriculturral tribes there, but the western gros ventres, blackfoot, crow and a few others hunted and camped there as they followed the buffalo (yeah, yeah, bison, i know, but, just like pluto IS a planet, american bison ARE buffalo, in spite of the scholars....).
 
here's a map to give a general idea of the terrain:
 
 
coincidentally, the two arrows point to approximately (not exactly, but pretty darn close to) the  same location as the places on the missouri referenced above, fort benton at the left arrow, and the mandan village at the right. the milk river (home of the western gros ventres) is the black river north of the blue missouri river above "NTAN" in the label, "montana." as an aside, i live right about where the "I" in "milk" is - maybe closer to the "L" - in chinook, montana. another aside: if you draw a line due east from the second "A" in "montana" and another line due north from the first "A" in "dakota," they will intersect really, really close to where my dad was born and raised, killdeer, north dakota.
 
here's some fairly good [albeit rather one-sided] information, from http://users.humboldt.edu/danielwr/BERTHOLD.htm:
 
Quote When Lewis and Clark came to the area between the Knife and Heart Rivers in present day North Dakota, the Arikara, Mandan, and Hidatsa tribes lived separately, sometimes peacefully, sometimes warring. They rarely were able to provide a united defense against their common enemy, the Sioux. Though they were agricultural people, they spoke different languages and differed in their religious practices. Fate would see them united.
 
ARIKARA
 
The Arikara are thought to have migrated to the Missouri River Basin centuries ago. They came from the south and were closely associated with the Skidi Pawnee. They took up agriculture and were particularly noted for their corn and melons. They had not directly contacted many Europeans when they met Lewis and Clark. They usually traded for European goods through other tribes. They had, however, come into direct contact with one European product, small pox.
 
In 1780 an estimated eight to ten thousand Arikara lived in eighteen villages along the Missouri between the White and Cheyenne Rivers. Then, some time in the late 1780's a small pox epidemic ravaged them. By the summer of 1804 there were less than two thousand Arikara, living in two villages. The epidemic had not killed evenly. For some reason each of the eighteen village chiefs, and most of their families had survived. The Arikara were never able to create a stable political structure; literally, there were "too many chiefs and not enough Indians." Internal power struggles affected their relations with other tribes and eventually "Whites" who came to the area. They were sometimes friends, sometimes enemies with their Mandan and Hidatsa neighbors; but their great nemesis was Sioux domination. The Sioux looked down on them (Farming was women's work.), often using force as a trading tactic. The Arikara thought European trade would greatly improve their lot, but the Sioux sought to keep them away from Europeans.
 
Thus the Arikara rejoiced when they heard that some White Men had broken a Sioux blockade and were headed their way. They were happy to treat with Lewis and Clark. They hoped to trade for guns and ammunition to help fend off the Sioux. Though the Lewis and Clark goods were meager they thought they had a promise of better days to come. Those days never came....
 
[30 years of smallpox and war] left the Tribe homeless and scattered. They tried to reunite in 1837, only to be ravaged by another small pox epidemic. The remnants of the tribe mover north, settling among the Mandan and Hidatsa in 1845. In 1862 they would enter into a formal agreement with their neighbors, eventually becoming one of the Three Affiliated Tribes. Today only eleven Arikara-speaking are living.
 
THE MANDAN
 
The Mandan are an Algonquin-speaking people who migrated to the Missouri Basin from the eastern woodlands. They were generally more sedentary that either the Hidatsa or Arikara, thriving on agriculture and trade. Their village became the major trading center in the Upper Missouri area. They had uneasy relations with their immediate neighbors, but were buffered from Sioux raids from the south and from Assiniboin and Cree attacks from the north. They too were victims of the epidemics of the 1780's and had not fully recovered when Lewis and Clark wintered with them in 1804-05. For thirty years after Lewis and Clark they remained friendly with White traders and trappers. They remained on uneasy terms with the Arikara, but became more friendly with the Hidatsa. Then in 1837 the small pox epidemic returned. Seven of every eight Mandans died within a two week period. The few survivors moved north to join the Hidatsa in the Knife River area. They joined the Hidatsa in 1845. Together they signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851. Their lands covered nearly seven million acres on either side of the Missouri. Their former /friend/enemy, the Arikara joined them in 1862.
 
THE HIDATSA
 
Like the Mandan, the Hidatsa are thought to have come to the Missouri from the eastern woodlands. They spoke a different language and had a different religion. They did take up agriculture and constructed relatively permanent earth lodges similar to those of their neighbors. They were less sedentary than their future partners. They fished, farmed, hunted, and sometimes warred with tribes to the north, west, and south. (In a raid on a Shoshone village far to the west, they captured an Indian girl named Sakakawea.) Legend says that many centuries ago some women argued over possession of buffalo bellies. The argument caused a split in the tribe. Many moved south and west, becoming the Crow [Note from Ron: this may be correct, but I suspect it is not - as far as I know, the Crow were a different tribe altogether, and the split referenced here resulted in the Atsina (Western Gros Ventre) in North Central Montana, who eventually split again to form the Arapaho tribe to the south in Wyoming and Colorado]. Perhaps this legend is the basis for the French term, "Gros Ventre" (big bellies), by which the Hidatsa were known. [This is almost surely not true, but who knows]
 
This mobile life style saved the Hidatsa from the worst of the 1780's epidemic. It apparently came to the Upper Missouri during a large summer hunt. Thus the Hidatsa was the larger of the three tribes who met Lewis and Clark. But the pox is persistent. In 1837 there was no such hunt. Half of the people died this time. Again the tribe split. Some moved west to Montana, where they would eventually settle at Fort Belknap. [I don't think this was THE split, which as I recall happened in the 18th Century; however, this may have been "a" split, and the ones who left joined the Atsina] Those who remained moved a few miles north to the Knife River and settled in a village they called Like-A-Fish-Hook, because a bend in the Missouri where they settled looked like one. There the Mandan and Arikara would join them.
 
for some absolutely wonderful artwork givng a good, contemporary visual of the daily lives of the tribes in that area in the 1830s, consult george catlin (less technical, more emotional):
 
 
 
 
 
and karl bodmer (more technical, less emotional):
 
 
 
 
 
the portraits are actually of the same man, mato-tope, or four bears
 
for those interested, here's an excerpt from a collection profile on a piece by alfred jacob miller (a contemporary artist who painted the west, farther south in wyoming) that i wrote when working for the c.m. russell musem:
 
Quote The Western Art Expeditions of the 1830s
 
Through the 1830s, and into the 1840s and 1850s, there was a proliferation of voyages out west which included artists. These expeditions were often, but not always, sponsored by European aristocracy and were intended to capture the freedom and romance of the west as it existed in nature, without Euro-American influence. The intent was good, but not entirely successful due to the fact that the Native American cultures had already been heavily influenced by the trappers and traders encountered. Similarly, the landscapes along the river had already been altered by the building of forts and even some small settlements near the mouths of the Missouri and Platte Rivers. Nevertheless, the travels of these artists and their resulting works stand as our most important link to the early American West, and later artists, such as C.M. Russell and Frederic Remington, were directly influenced by the artists of these early expeditions.
 
Of these artist-explorers, there are three names which rise as the most noteworthy with the farthest-reaching impact on history and art in the west. George Catlin, Karl Bodmer and Alfred Jacob Miller depicted the most memorable scenes of this time period on three separate expeditions. Catlin, in 1832 and 1833, came up the Missouri River to the Mandan Villages of what is now North Dakota, and proceeded to the convergence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. Bodmer, in 1833 and 1834, went as far up-river as Fort McKenzie, near the confluence of the Missouri and Marias Rivers in what is now Montana. Miller, traveling farther south, ranged into the Green River country in what is now Wyoming during the clement months of 1837. From these three artists, scholars, as well as casual readers, have access to the most informative, romantic and remarkable images of the Great Plains, its people and its wildlife. These watercolors, oil paintings, lithographs and sketches are the reason that people know and love the American West.
 
Though their work encompassed close time periods and similar subjects, the members of this trio of artists were quite unique in their own right. Catlin has been described as “the inspired primitive” due to his vivid style which may have been short on technical merit, but was rich in brilliance. Bodmer, tagged as “the academic realist,” managed to blend classic, Teutonic majesty with skilled detachment, creating images which are not only beautiful, but also quite realistic. Miller is situated between the two as the romantic poet; his idyllic works are expressively devoted to the actual scenes that he portrayed.
 
 
 
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Thanks for posting that, Ron. That's a bunch of great info.
 
From where I sit it's not far off topic, because it puts some perspective on how and why things were done. Besides which, it's interesting in its own right.
 
Again, my memory is vague, but wasn't Miller the official artist on Marcy's expedition to Santa Fe?
 
One of the great contributions of Wilson's work is that he picked exactly the right people to study.  Even though it was the late reservation period, almost at the turn of the century, Buffalo Bird Women had lived through, and remembered, all three periods. So, between them, they were able to separate out what were traditional methods versus those that reflected European influences. For instance, while she used "modern" steel tools, she well remembered her aunt using nothing but a digging stick. And was able to demonstrate how it was used.
 
Wouldn't surprise me in the least to find she had, as a youngster, actually known some of the Mountain Men. Although the last Rendezvous was in 1840, many of them hung tight, eking out a living from the progressively rarer beaver, and the lower prices they brought. The Great Panic of 1848 wrote a final finis to that lifestyle. And a year later the gold rush drove the final nail.
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Originally posted by HistoricFoodie HistoricFoodie wrote:

Again, my memory is vague, but wasn't Miller the official artist on Marcy's expedition to Santa Fe?
 
I'm not sure, Brook - I don't recall seeing it in my research, but that was 8 years ago. It could have happened on a separate expedition.
 
Regarding Miller (and this really is off-topic, but I won't tell if you won't! Tongue), here's the complete collection profile, for anyone interested:
 
Quote

Alfred Jacob Miller, Indian Hunting Buffalo, n.d., watercolor, 7” x 11 ½”, Permanent Collection (Gift of Paul and Doris Masa)

 

 

COLLECTION PROFILE

 

May 2004

 

The Artist: Alfred Jacob Miller

 

Alfred Jacob Miller was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1810. As a child, he demonstrated great love for and ability in art, and was fortunate to have parents who took active interest in his education in this area. He studied art under Thomas Sully in 1831 and 1832, where he showed an aptitude for portrait and landscape art. A pair of local patrons, Robert Gilmor and Johns Hopkins, later of Johns Hopkins University, underwrote Miller’s continued education, sending him to Paris in 1833 to refine his skills at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts. His edification became complete when he left Paris to study at the English Life School in Rome, possibly taking a side-trip to Switzerland where he sketched lake scenes. Upon returning to the United States, Miller attempted to make a career in art, opening a portrait studio in Baltimore. Apparently unsuccessful in this endeavor, he moved to New Orleans in 1837 and met his destiny.

 

It was in New Orleans that Alfred Jacob Miller met Captain William Drummond Stewart, a British Soldier who was, more importantly, a Scottish sportsman and adventurer at heart. The two men struck up an immediate partnership and proceeded out west, there to see, and more importantly record, the Great Plains, the Rocky Mountains, the roaming buffalo, the free trappers and the wild Indians. It was Stewart’s intention to have Miller’s sketches and preliminary work transformed to oil paintings, which would be hung at his castle in Scotland to remind him of his American journey. The expedition, which commenced in April of 1837 and continued through the autumn of that year, was guided by the celebrated mountain man, Thomas Fitzpatrick, and followed the general path of what would become the Oregon Trail into the Rocky Mountains. Stopping at Fort William, later renowned in history as Fort Laramie, and crossing the great divide over South Pass, the caravan of wagons and carts came to a halt at the rendezvous of the mountain men at Horse Creek in western Wyoming. Along the way, and during the three weeks of the rendezvous, Miller sketched and painted nearly 200 scenes, landscapes and portraits, capturing some of the wildest and most romantic images of the American West ever created. Comparing his Indian subjects to Greek sculptures, and portraying his scenes in wistful, evocative settings, Miller managed to capture the drama and the romance of his subjects in a way that set him completely apart from his contemporaries. As the first artist to paint the Rocky Mountains, and the most prolific recorder of trappers and mountain men during this time period, Miller secured a place for himself as one of the most important artists of the American West.

 

By November, Miller was back in the United States, where he finished and exhibited many of his paintings before shipping them to Scotland. In 1840 he traveled to Scotland to live at Stewart’s Murthly Castle. It was there that many watercolors and sketches from the journey west were converted to oil paintings of favorite and memorable scenes, and the castle was decorated with the wild and vivid scenes of the American West. His commitment to Stewart fulfilled, Miller returned to America in 1842 with fascinating memories of his travels and a portfolio of 83 small drawings and watercolors. He settled in Baltimore, and spent much of the remainder of his life re-interpreting the sketches he created on the prairie while also painting portraits. His western scenes were often accompanied by descriptive narratives, and the residents of his hometown were enthralled with his depictions of a land, its wildlife and its people that many of them never would see. Miller died at the relatively young age of 64 in 1874; tragically, most of his best sketches and watercolors from his western adventure were thought to be lost, only to be re-discovered in storage at the Peale Museum in Baltimore in 1935.

 

The Western Art Expeditions of the 1830s

 

Through the 1830s, and into the 1840s and 1850s, there was a proliferation of voyages out west which included artists. These expeditions were often, but not always, sponsored by European aristocracy and were intended to capture the freedom and romance of the west as it existed in nature, without Euro-American influence. The intent was good, but not entirely successful due to the fact that the Native American cultures had already been heavily influenced by the trappers and traders encountered. Similarly, the landscapes along the river had already been altered by the building of forts and even some small settlements near the mouths of the Missouri and Platte Rivers. Nevertheless, the travels of these artists and their resulting works stand as our most important link to the early American West, and later artists, such as C.M. Russell and Frederic Remington, were directly influenced by the artists of these early expeditions.

 

Of these artist-explorers, there are three names which rise as the most noteworthy with the farthest-reaching impact on history and art in the west. George Catlin, Karl Bodmer and Alfred Jacob Miller depicted the most memorable scenes of this time period on three separate expeditions. Catlin, in 1832 and 1833, came up the Missouri River to the Mandan Villages of what is now North Dakota, and proceeded to the convergence of the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers. Bodmer, in 1833 and 1834, went as far up-river as Fort McKenzie, near the confluence of the Missouri and Marias Rivers in what is now Montana. Miller, traveling farther south, ranged into the Green River country in what is now Wyoming during the clement months of 1837. From these three artists, scholars, as well as casual readers, have access to the most informative, romantic and remarkable images of the Great Plains, its people and its wildlife. These watercolors, oil paintings, lithographs and sketches are the reason that people know and love the American West.

 

Though their work encompassed close time periods and similar subjects, the members of this trio of artists were quite unique in their own right. Catlin has been described as “the inspired primitive” due to his vivid style which may have been short on technical merit, but was rich in brilliance. Bodmer, tagged as “the academic realist,” managed to blend classic, Teutonic majesty with skilled detachment, creating images which are not only beautiful, but also quite realistic. Miller is situated between the two as the romantic poet; his idyllic works are expressively devoted to the actual scenes that he portrayed.

 

The Work:  Indian Hunting Buffalo

 

This watercolor is one of the oldest works of art in the C.M Russell Museum. Though the exact date is unknown, it must have been painted between 1837, the year of Stewart’s expedition, and 1874, six years before Russell arrived in Montana as a young man of sixteen. The painting has the sketchy, hurried look of one created out “in the field,” and is pure Miller, with all of the romance and drama one would expect. The hunter in this painting could be Lakota, Cheyenne, or Arapaho; perhaps Shoshone, Comanche or Crow, all of which could have been found seeking buffalo along the Platte River in the 1830s. The horse, an appaloosa, was possibly acquired through trade with the Nez Perce, eventually finding its way down to the plains. As the buffalo flees across the prairie toward the distant hills, one can almost see the subjects begin to move, thanks to the flowing hair and fringe on the hunter and the sweeping mane and tail of the horse. The buffalo, the hunter and the horse all have the heroic, dramatic pose and flair which are characteristic traits of European art of the period. The action shown is fitting for the walls of a Scottish hunting lodge, which is where most of Miller’s paintings from this journey were hung. Miller’s use of color is shown to advantage here, using the faded, washed look of the background to bring out the subtle blues and greys in the clouds and the vivid reds which highlight the hunter. This painting takes the viewer directly back to the excitement and romance of the buffalo hunt, and is a dynamic example of Miller’s ability to excite the passions of those who view his art.

 

For More Information:

 

Selected Internet Sources: www.askart.com, www.joslyn.org, www.marylandartsource.org, sittingfoxagency.tripod.com

 

Moore, Robert J., Native American Indians: a Portrait, Stewart, Tabori and Chang, New York, New York, 1997.

 

Rossi, Paul and Hunt, David, The Art of the Old West, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, New York, 1971.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote HistoricFoodie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 May 2012 at 05:09
Getting back to actually planting.
 
On the assumption you won't be building hills, I would put in the patch like this.
 
Plant your corn at it's normal spacing. Once it has grown at least a few inches, plant a single bean seed at least six inches from each stalk. For most home corn varieties, one bean vine is all it will support. Some native corns can do better. Cherokee White, for instance, grows to about 13 feet, and the stalk is almost 3 inches in diameter at the base.
 
Once the beans actually start climbing the cornstalks you can plant the squash. In short-season locales, there's no reason not to pre-start the squash, then transplant in between the rows.
 
In practical terms, this will work out at about two week intervals between planting. First the corn, then, two weeks later the beans, then two weeks after that the squash.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 May 2012 at 07:16
that sounds like the way to go - my hope is to get the ground tilled (and hopefully planted) this weekend. it's a day or two early, going by the customary "growing season," but i think it will be ok as we've only had one night in the last week dip down below freezing, and i don't see where it's expected to do that again.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 May 2012 at 13:43
3 sisters garden for 2012 started! I've got an 18 x 18 foot started with corn, and will be adding beans and squash in the subsequent weeks. read about it here:
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Margi Cintrano Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 April 2013 at 08:42
Tas,

Amazing feature ... I am quite a fan of  Native American Indian Art and Culture. Your article is awesome and very much enjoyed.

Thank you again for such a wonderful historical feature and explanation with profound insights into the Native Americans. The art work accompanying your feature is astonishingly profound too.

THE MUSEUM OF THE NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN
BROADWAY AND WEST 155th STREET
MANHATTAN 

I visit this incredible museum, every time I visit NYC.

This Museum is a must for all Americans, and those travelling to The Big Apple. It is phenomenal.

Thanks again.
MCD. 
Volamos a Mediterraneo, un paraiso que conquista su gente u su cocina.
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