historical fiction novel 'And Should We Die' by Arthur Ruger
'And Should We Die' is a historical novel, written by Arthur Ruger. Based on an actual event, Arthur Ruger writes as descendant of ancestors of the Mormon Handcart Tragedy of 1856. With a compassionate look at a little known tragedy in American pioneer history; the Willie-Martin handcart trek (the last of the handcart pilgrimages) with incredulous hardships that took so many lives.
"Most of the tribes in the eastern area of what is now the United States practiced agriculture. It is well known that maize, potatoes, pumpkins, squashes, beans, sweet potatoes, cotton, tobacco, and other familiar plants were cultivated by Indians centuries before Columbus. Early white settlers learned the value of the new food plants, but have left us meager accounts of the native methods of tillage; and the Indians, driven from the fields of their fathers, became roving hunters; or adopting iron tools, forgot their primitive implements and methods."
The University of Minnesota Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden As Recounted by Maxi'diwiac (Buffalo Bird Woman) (ca.1839-1932) of the Hidatsa Indian Tribe
Originally published as Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians: An Indian Interpretation by Gilbert Livingstone Wilson, Ph.D. (1868-1930)
I absolutely did Not know this - but I do now. I have often heard of The Three Sisters, without full recognition of the relationship. I will be planting my corn, beans and squash in a quite different pattern this year. In fact, I think I will plant it in that sunny space behind the house and actually name it My Three Sisters Garden. I came across this in my morning reads - attributed to a post at one of my listserv groups by Sweet Spring Farm.
*The Three Sisters*
The "three sisters" of New Mexican agriculture, corn, beans, and squash, were hundreds of years ahead of their time. This system serves as the basis for inter-cropping systems currently being used around the world as tools to increase agricultural productivity in areas facing food shortages. Why is this such a successful system?
Simply stated, each of the three sisters serves an important role. To understand the system, one should first consider the three plants seperately. Growing corn in rows is a good idea but wastes valuable planting space. Beans require some sort of support system and must be staked up to grow. Finally, both squash and corn require additional nitrogen in the soil to produce adequately in New Mexico's typically sandy soils, which are also prone to losing valuable moisture due to evaporation.
As corn reaches for the sun, beans may grow up the strong stalks and the necessity of building a support system or frame is reduced. One must plant corn some distance apart, leaving the ground bare; however, planting squash between the rows of corn reduces soil moisture loss as the squash foliage acts as a natural mulch, reducing soil temperatures and helping to "hold" moisture in the soil where it may be used by the plants and not lost to the atmosphere. Finally, beans have the unique capability of being able to "fix" atmospheric nitrogen, pulling it from the air and improving soil nitrogen status; essentially, "fertilizing" the other two sisters.
Contributed by Dr. Dann Brown, Professor of Botany, Eastern New Mexico University