one needs to prepare a meal or just replenish food items in the cupboard,
a quick trip to the local grocery store or Wal-Mart takes care of
everything. However, before the convenience of such retail businesses
our Osage ancestors would have worked as a cooperative to provide
a sustainable food system of hunting and agriculture for the tribe.
Members would have provided particular services to the development
of the gardens, maintenance of the seeds, cultivation, and the harvest.
The meals prepared from this ancestral-lifestyle would have
been nutritious. They would have been balanced with meats and vegetables;
void of sugar and bad fats. There would also have been exercise
from the physical labor required in the working of the ground and
So if this was such a healthy way to live, why do we read today
about so many Native tribes returning to traditional planting methods
and the use of heirloom seeds? Through the removal from- and encroachment
upon- Native lands by Europeans and later American colonists and
pioneers, this tradition ended. And as the Native populations integrated
with American society unhealthy foods became part of their diet.
This in turn eventually led to life-threatening illnesses, which
included but were not limited to cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
The Osage Nation Communities of Excellence program (COE) provides
education about healthy lifestyles and the process of disease
prevention through good food choices, exercise, and being tobacco-free.
Last summer, COE and Ta-Wa AmeriCorps farmed three acres of
pumpkins at 1st and Prudom Streets in Pawhuska. It was a learning
experience, COE Director Gail Boe stated. Despite battling
deer and raccoons, the group had a successful harvest of about 100
pumpkins. Some were given to the Soup Kitchen with the Immaculate
Conception Catholic Church in Pawhuska. Pumpkin muffins were baked
for the December Extravaganza event at the Cultural Center and over
400 baggies of treats were handed out.
and squash, corn, and beans when planted together are a natural
combination. The stalks of the corn allow the vining beans a place
of support. The leaf structure of the squash provides shade. The
food is easy to store and keep for long periods of time. Then of
course there is the nutritional value of each item.
Beans are a good source of protein, fiber and carbohydrates,
which are needed for energy and brain function. Pumpkins are low
in calories, rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. The seeds also
are a good source of protein. Corn has a unique role, in that, eaten
off the cob it is considered a vegetable, but when the kernels are
dried they become a grain. And the inclusion of corn in ones
diet is beneficial.
Communities of Excellence program is beginning the planning stages
of this years gardening endeavors. There is the acreage of
1st and Prudom. Another location is the small heirloom garden at
the WAHZHAZHI Cultural Center which will only be planted with corn
this time; a variety that is shorter than the average plant and
with small ears. Bird Creek Farms will also be available for planting,
[and more about that location will follow in another article]. Similar
to the old ways where the tribe worked together to maintain a reliable
food source, COE staff with the Ta-Wa AmeriCorps team will also
be joined by other Osage Nation departments and personnel. It takes
many individuals to do this hard work, but all teams are excited
to get started.
To learn more about Communities of Excellence and AmeriCorps
and/or to participate in this years gardening projects contact
their office at (918) 287-5267.