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Cherokee White Flour Corn: History
An ancient crop with a rich tradition and heritage.

Maize in Ancient Times

Corn (maize) was originally domesticated 10,000 years ago in Mesoamerica (from Mexico going south through Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica).

Corn was the main food of Mesoamericans. Their religions included corn gods and goddesses.

Maize Goddess

Some of the ancient corn (maize) goddesses: the Aztec Xilonen (fresh corn) and Chicomecoatl (mature corn), the Cherokee Selu, and Iyatiku of the American southwest Keresan tribe.

This photo is the Aztec corn goddess, Xilonen, worshiped in Mexico from the 11th to the 16th century.

Mayan mythology believes the first humans were made out of corn. The Mayan calendar began with the planting of corn. (The Mayan empire included Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras.)

Cherokee Corn Mother

This drawing is Selu, the Cherokee 'Corn Mother', 'Corn Woman', and 'Corn Goddess'. She is the 'Goddess of the Harvest'.

She planted her heart so her people would not be hungry. Corn grew from her heart. Her wisdom and magic help the corn grow with favorable fertility, weather and soil.

Cherokee White Flour Corn

This ancient variety of Flour corn originally came from the Harinoso de Ocho maize race of northwestern Mexico. (‘Harinoso’ translates from Spanish to English as ‘containing meal’ or ‘floury’. ‘Ocho’ translates as ‘eight’. Also translated as ‘Eight Mealy’.)

In the 1940s its relative was collected in Mexico at: 1. Yaqui Valley, state of Sonora. 2. City of Ures, state of Sonora. 3. Northern Nayarit state.

Harinoso de Ocho Corn

'The long, narrow-eared corns typical of northwestern Mexico, whether popcorns, flints, or flours, are all similar to the Indian corns of the southwestern USA. (Anderson, 1944, 1946; Brown et al., 1952; Carter and Anderson, 1945)'

'These races include Chapalote, Reventador, Harinoso de Ocho, Tabloncillo, and Olotillo as well as several more recently described races (Hernandez and Alanis, 1970).'

'It appears (Nelson, 1952, 1960) that Harinoso de Ocho is one of only two Mexican races which shared the ga1/ga1 genotype with the most prevalent USA corn types (Northern Flints, Southern Dents, and Corn Belt Dents).' Races_of_Maize/Corn_Improvement_0_Book.pdf

This drawing is the 'Green Corn Dance' or 'Green Corn Ceremony' of Native American tribes in the 1800s. It is celebrated once a year when the corn is harvested. They give thanks to Hsaketumese, 'The Breath Maker', for their corn bounty. It lasts 7-8 days.

Cherokee Corn Culture

"The Cherokee late pre-history corn culture was mostly based on their white flour corn, which they are very well known for and this was grown through out the Cherokee lands. If you have never seen this corn grow, it will average 12' tall but in good soil can reach 18'. This is an 8 row white flour corn that grinds silky smooth."

-Vanished Places of the Southern Appalachians

Cherokee Trail of Tears

The Cherokee tribe lived in the southeastern United States for 10,000 years. The 'Trail of Tears' was a series of forced removals starting in the early 1800s.

Native American nations (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Muscogee, and Seminole) were made to move from their ancestral homelands in the southeastern United States to 'Indian Territory' west of the Mississippi River (that later became Oklahoma).

The Cherokee were rounded up by the United States Army in 1838. During these forced migrations, Native Americans suffered from exposure, disease, and starvation. More than 4,000 Cherokee died out of the 16,000.

Some Cherokee refused to leave and stayed in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. There is now the 'Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians' in North Carolina, and the 'Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma' (Central Plains).

The top painting is the 'Cherokee Trail of Tears' by Max Standley in 1995.

Cherokee Sister Seeds

The corn taken with the Native Americans on the 'Cherokee Trail of Tears' was 2 ancient Cherokee Sister seeds: White Flour corn and Blue Flint corn.

'Plants of the Cherokee' book (149 pages) is based on 'Ethnobotany Of The Cherokee Indians' by William H. Banks Jr. written in 1953. It is available as a 236 page pdf from the Univeristy of Tennessee. Ethnobotany is the study of the traditional knowledge and customs of a people concerning plants and their medical, religious, and other uses.

Cherokee Native American Plants

The 'Three Sisters' are the main agricultural crops of Native Americans: winter squash, corn (maize), and climbing beans. Corn was of great importance to the Cherokee, celebrated in religious ceremonies such as the annual 'Green Corn Ceremony' held at corn harvest.

'Cherokee Plants and Their Uses: A 400 Year History' explains how the Cherokee used plants in every day life and in spiritual rituals.

"Corn was undoubtedly the most important plant food. The Cherokee wife might boil or roast fresh corn. She would grind dried corn in meal for frying, or boil it with hardwood ashes to make hominy. Hominy might be eaten as it was, or ground into grits. In one form or another corn was part of nearly every meal. Corn, Se-lu, was ground using a long hickory or oak stick." -'Cherokee Plants and Their Uses'

Cherokee Flour Corn

Respect the ancient history, tradition and ways of the Native American tribes.

Cherokee White Flour Corn: Buying & Description

Cherokee White Flour Corn: Planting & Harvest

Cherokee White Flour Corn: More Photos

Cherokee Trail of Tears Black Beans

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