'That’s how I remember it'Community gathers for corn harvest on Winnebago Reservation
By Kevin Abourezk WINNEBAGO, Nebraska – The three women sit on lawn chairs before a growing pile of corn husks. One by one, they pull the husks off the corn and throw the corn into a blue rubber container. They tease each other, as well as the three young men who are dumping the piles of corn kernels onto wire meshed wooden frames in order to dry them in the sun. The men and women are harvesting corn recently taken from a nearby field. They are doing their work behind a Dollar General in Winnebago, in full view of traffic passing on nearby U.S. Highway 77. Sarah Snake, 62, tells the men she found a caterpillar on one of the corn cobs and took it off. Later, she found the caterpillar on her ankle, biting her. “He was probably eating the corns on your feet,” one of the men tells Snake, making her and the other women laugh.
The harvest will take about two weeks, and Ho-Chunk Farms is hopeful the harvest will yield 200-250 quarts of corn. The company hired two harvest specialists to help with the harvest, and several community members have volunteered to help process the corn, LaPointe said. “We’re trying to get the community involved and kind of revive a traditional practice that’s been diminishing,” he said.
Aaron LaPointe of Ho-Chunk Farms pulls corn cobs off stalks in a field near Winnebago, Nebraska. The Winnebago Tribe began its corn harvest recently. Photo by Kevin Abourezk
She said the traditional way of planting and harvesting corn involved saying prayers before planting the corn, harvesting the corn and drying the corn. Dried corn would often be one of the few food items that tribal members had to eat during the winters, Snake said. They would often add wild game to it to make a soup. She said harvest time is one of her favorite times of the year. “This is a part of my life in this time of year,” she said. “I just love to go around and help people do it and give them a hard time.”
Join the Conversation
Related StoriesWinnebago Tribe moves forward with food sovereignty initiatives (August 8, 2018)
'It’s been very healing': Yoga classes come to Winnebago Reservation (July 27, 2018)
Winnebago artist Henry Payer taps into tribal history (July 5, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe set to assume control of troubled hospital on reservation (June 27, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe brings gardens to youth on the reservation (May 30, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe works to revitalize Ho-Chunk language for future generations (May 10, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe names executives for takeover of troubled Indian Health Service hospital (May 1, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe takes advantage of new 'Opportunity Zone' designation (April 27, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe fights back in court after 'attack on sovereignty' (April 24, 2018)
Winnebago Tribe promotes food sovereignty for future generations (March 30, 2018)