Image of wheat

Activity #1: Discover the Link Between Agriculture and Culture
The history of agriculture in New York dates back before the coming of the first Europeans to the Six Nations of native people living in what is now upstate New York (the Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk and Tuscarora Nations). They referred to themselves as the Haudenosaunee, meaning the People of the Long House. One of the best known Native America growing techniques is the Three Sisters Garden. This activity will explore the cultural significance and nutritional harmony of corn, beans, and squash.

  • Begin with the excerpt from Feeding Body and Soul
    Read the information about food, meals and feasts. Provide students with a copy of the journal entries. Read the journal entries and have the students respond to the written activities.
  • Explore the nutritional benefits of the Three Sisters in Nutritious Lessons
    Native people who grew and honored the Three Sisters were well aware that they were nutritionally rich and complementary. Have students research the nutritional value of each of the Three Sisters and the benefits of eating them in combination. They should discover that corn supplies carbohydrates and a variety of important amino acids. Beans have protein, including two essential amino acids that corn lacks. Squash contributes vitamin A. Squash seeds also contain quality fats that corn and beans lack. Encourage students to learn about some of the many ways — from grinding corn to making breads — in which different native cultures prepare and eat the Three Sisters.