Living History Farms: Ioway Farming

Approaching through the woods, one comes first upon the Ioway Indian camp.

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Like many Native Americans across North America, the Ioway Indians raised corn (maize), beans, and squash. Also like other Native American groups, it was the women who raised the crops. Men did the hunting and fought battles.

An enthusiastic interpreter related that corn was first planted in this area around ad 900-1000. She described the way corn, beans, and squash were grown together and pointed out the mounds nearby. By planting the seeds in mounds, it kept plants far enough apart, to keep the tall corn stalks from shading other plants nearby—the same reason corn is planted in rows today—to let sun reach the leaves. In this case, however, sun was needed for the squash and beans, as well, and not just the corn plants.

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The first shoots of both corn and squash plants were pushing their way through the soil at the top of each of the mounds.

IA-LivHistFarm-IndCmp-corns

The Ioway grew flour corn, a corn variety with soft starch, which makes it easy to grind. The corn they grew was blue, and it was most commonly ground, mixed with water, formed into cakes, wrapped in cornhusks, and put in the fire. (Sounds a lot like tamales.)

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Filed under Agriculture, Corn, Farming, Food, History, Midwest, Midwest Maize, Travel

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