A New Look at Native American Farming

New American Farmer

Native American farming is nothing new.  In most American schools, we were taught that, in general, Native Americans were hunters and gatherers who hadn’t “advanced” to the level of civilization where growing food and raising livestock were part of their culture.  Growing food and raising livestock may have been the culture for a few, however, not nearly for all.  That doesn’t mean there was a lack in advancement of civilization for those who did not.  In fact, I would suggest that even those perceived to be hunters and gatherers were very mindful of the way they hunted and gathered. It is obvious in my mind that they made an effort to ensure a new crop, or herd, would be available for them each and every season, for whatever it was they were harvesting, by managing the land and using harvesting practices that would sustain themselves and future generations.  Isn’t this the epitome of the farming mentality?

I think our educators only taught us one side (the white side) of the story regarding Native Americans and their food systems.  I believe their food systems were just as managed and just as bountiful as the European food systems.  It’s just that their food system took on a different type of management, one that coincided differently with nature, and therefore wasn’t as recognizable to the European and therefore not considered farming or agriculture.  In the little amount of study and observation regarding traditional and modern Native American food systems I have concluded that what they have done, and are doing, can aptly be considered farming and agriculture.

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