National Geographic : 1937 Nov
AMERICA'S FIRST SETTLERS, THE INDIANS Photograph by Harrison Howell Walker HOME RUNS, NOT SCALPS, ARE BATTLE TROPHIES AS TWO TRIBES CLASH Many a redskin bit the dust when trying to slide to the home plate in this game between Passa maquoddy and Malecite teams (page 561). Neptune, ex-chief of the home tribe, acted as umpire (left). As in olden times, when Indian clans gathered to play lacrosse (Color Plate I), these modern braves celebrated with a feast and war dance after the game. coast as far as the St. Lawrence River. School children have read how Squanto taught the settlers at Plymouth to plant and raise corn, thus enabling the colony to become partly self-supporting. With out maize both Jamestown and Plymouth would certainly have failed and the settle ment of the Atlantic seaboard been delayed many years. The agricultural Indians of the Eastern Woodlands used simple but effective meth ods of cultivation. Champlain tells that in place of plows they employed an instru ment of hard wood shaped like a spade. The gardens were planted in May on suitable land near the village. Three or four kernels were placed in one spot and a small hill of dirt heaped over them. In each hill were planted also a few beans. The hills were placed in rows at intervals of about three feet. When the seed sprouted, the bean vines would interlace with and climb up the cornstalk, at the same time keeping the ground about the hill free from weeds. Pumpkins and squash usually were planted in open areas around the edge of the corn patch, where vines would not be too much shaded by the tall corn plants. Apart from the efficiency of this method of planting, the Iroquois believed that the guardian spirits of the three plants were sisters who desired to remain together. The care and harvesting of the gardens were almost exclusively the duties of the women, the men being too much occupied with hunting activities during the grow ing and harvesting seasons (Plate XVIII). THE ORIGIN OF SUCCOTASH The corn plant was held in such regard by the Iroquois that the name of maize means "our life." This love and veneration for corn was typical of all of the agricul tural tribes of America, who regarded it as their principal means of subsistence. Many varieties of beans and corn were cultivated and there were numerous meth ods of preparing them as food. The ab original New England dish of succotash, consisting of a mixture of maize and beans, still retains its Indian name.