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The Three Sisters: A brief look at how corn, beans and squash have sustained life and culture in Haudenosaunee communities

Corn, beans and squash are prevalent food staples in many of the indigenous cultures of the Americas, including the Haudenosaunee (the Iroquois Confederacy) of Northern New York State and southeastern Canada. This paper will mainly focus on Haudenosaunee traditions, but also includes some information on indigenous uses throughout the Americas. This project will include information about the cultural significance of food, traditional agricultural practices, the benefits of companion planting, a recipe, ceremonies associated with the three sisters and more.

The Three Sisters have been some of the main Haudenosaunee food staples since prior to European contact (Gray, 2017). Their creation is found in the Haudenosaunee oral origin stories. It is said that when the daughter of Skywoman (who fell from the sky and made the Turtle Island) died during childbirth, five plants grew where she was buried. From her heart grew strawberries, from her head tobacco, corn from her breast, beans from he…

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