Yesterday was Indigenous Peoples Day. I wanted to use this post to honor the native peoples of our continent, both ancient and present. When Jeff and I took our Ancestry DNA tests, I was hoping to find some more colors in our family story. I was a little sad when it was confirmed that we don’t appear to have any Native blood in our family.
These images of Hopi girls give us a haunting glimpse into an ancient way of life. Though I can’t claim kinship with them, I feel connected in some small way, because I was born in Arizona. My parents have told me stories of their childhood hikes and trail rides through very isolated and nearly inaccessible regions, where they stumbled upon sacred sites, petroglyphs, pottery fragments, a cache of clay necklaces, and a stone metate for grinding corn. Today, most of these locations have carefully limited access, and rightly so. Anything I can do is so inadequate, but I wanted to include our children in an experience that would be respectful, educational, and honoring to the people of the First Nations.
As I often do, I turned to our garden for inspiration. It didn’t disappoint. When we studied the Mayans, Aztecs, and other ancient Americans, last year, we learned that many of the foods we now take for granted were “New World Crops”. They were virtually unknown to Europeans until they were introduced to them by the Native Americans. Lots of these fruits and vegetables are represented in our garden, so I decided that we would have a Hopi Harvest.
First, we needed costumes. (Of course!) Hopi women and girls traditionally wore one-shoulder, woolen dresses, that were woven by the men. I made Emma and Eliza’s dresses from pillowcases, trimmed with bias tape.
Elliott is wearing an outfit that reflects settler influence, i.e. trousers and a shirt, but with Native elements of a turquoise-studded belt, and a head-cloth. The “turquoise” in the belt are plastic beads that we glued onto a thrifted necklace that was missing its original stones. (I’ll do a tutorial on that, later.)
Corn (maize) was the most vital crop for the Hopi. Emma has the iconic, “squash blossom” hairstyle worn by older girls, and she is holding a woven basket I found at Goodwill.
Checking for earwigs. . . The Hopi would consider our garden to be incredibly lush. They were masterful at adapting their corn to grown in a much drier climate. They grew the maize in shorter, bushier clumps, as opposed to rows.
However, the Wenatchee climate is warm and dry enough for peppers to flourish!
We’re wusses when it comes to spicy food, but we love a sweet, crisp Bell Pepper!
Eliza was partial to the red pepper.
Lots and lots of tomatoes!
Eliza made a friend.
Sunflower seeds were also a part of the Hopi diet.
Our sunflower stalks were snapping from the heaviness of the flower heads, full of seeds.
We will save some of the seeds to grow another “sun forest”, next year.
Squash also played an important role in the lives of the Hopi.
We started to gather everything we picked.
The real fun began as we started to husk the corn.
Even Oliver and Annika couldn’t resist!
So much beauty and plenty.
We combined most of our harvest, including the corn, into a delicious Hopi stew.
We spent the day in thanks for the peoples of the First Nations, and their love and care for the land. We recognize that we are but sojourners, here, living in a kingdom that is ultimately not our own.