Miigwech (Anishinaabe), Pidamaya (Dakota), Gracias (Latinx), Thank you!
On August 3, 1990, the United States President George H. W. Bush declared the month of November as National American Indian Heritage Month, there after commonly referred to as Native American Heritage Month. Henry High honors our students and staff with roots in North, Central and South America.
Many of us have stuffed ourselves recently, perhaps for Thanksgiving. Stop to consider that much of what we ate is food developed or cultivated by the Indians of North and South America. The smoked turkey wings, collards, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, green beans, Pepsi (ingredients from the Indigenous people), cake rich in chocolate, vanilla in ice cream, the tomato sauce topped pizza, and many more foods were gifted by American Indians. Dozens of items were displayed at Henry High as shown in the accompanying photograph.
Food contributions of the Indians of the Americas
42% of food eaten in world by weight.
48% of $ value of food produced in the U. S.
corn, popcorn, original Cracker Jacks, wild rice
14 varieties of beans including kidney, string, snap, Mexican frijol,
butter, common, lima, navy, pole, French, and Rangoon
3,000 varieties of potatoes including the “Irish potato,” sweet potatoes
maple syrup, maple sugar, pumpkins, squash, chayote
turkeys, clam bakes, pemmican, jerky
tomatoes, passion fruit, pomegranate, persimmon, plantains, avocado
guacamole, papaw (papaya), cranberries
cassava for meat tenderizers, dried red peppers, cayenne, paprika
gumbo file’, tabasco sauce
maize (corn), cornbread, amaranth, quinoa, sunflower, Jerusalem artichoke
pecans, cashews, chocolate
carrots, beets, succotash, sweet peppers, Brunswick stew
food production using technological processes, freeze-dried foods
preparation of seafoods, achiote coloring for oleomargarine
extraction of flavorings and spices, vanilla, curry, ginger
mints, wintergreen, Jamestown weed
chocolate drink, sassafras tea, sarsaparilla tea, root beer, tonic water
original ingredients for Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, and Pepsi:
(peppermint, opium, caffeine, cola, cocaine), snow cones
specialized fishing and hunting techniques
food storage methods, smoking foods, wind ovens
Contribuions of American Indians in the field of agriculture
3/5 of world’s crops now in cultivation
base for modern genetics
domestication and development of plants
natural bug repellent
hilling, polyculture, milpa (careful seed selection), hybridization of crops
conuco (planting by cuttings), partner planting, nitrogenous fertilizer
model for canal system and irrigation, fishmeal fertilizer, bean & other plant names
experimental agricultural stations, most modern oyster hatchery in the U.S.A.
Note: Many Henry students and their families who identify as African Americans can trace their ancestry in part to a Native American nation. Historian Carter G. Woodson believed that relations with Native American nations sometimes provided an escape hatch from slavery: Native American villages welcomed fugitive slaves and, in the antebellum years, some served as stations on the Underground Railroad.Google the African American Registry for more info regarding the ties of African Americans and American Indians.
Research and content by Susan Curnow Breedlove, educator from North Minneapolis.