A Native American Three Sisters Garden consists of corn, squash, and beans. Tribes in the Kankakee River area, such as the Potawatomi and Miami, planted the Three Sisters in mounds about three ft. in diameter and about one foot high in the center. Corn is first to be planted in the hills. After the corn has reached about 6 to 8 inches tall beans are planted.The beans are planted two ways. First they can be planted next to the corn. One or two seeds at most per hill. This will allow your corn to pollinate correctly. Some of the beans were then planted in their own hills supported by a tripod of branches from nearby trees. The squash seeds were planted on the outer sloping circle of the mound. The bean roots help stabilize the corn and provide it with valuable nitrogen. The squash plants, which tend to ramble, shade the roots of the corn and beans to conserve water. It was common to find sunflowers also planted. The sunflower seeds were used for food and oil. They were also used to support climbing beans in the garden. It is important to remember, there were many different variations among the tribes for their gardens. Not all tribes planted in mounds, but you will find this a very common practice.
A Native American Medicinal Garden actually didn’t truly exist in the traditional sense. This is a special place where we have planted some examples of food plants harvested in the wild, sacred plants for ceremony, medicinal plants, and common plants found in the Kankakee Marsh area used by the native people.
The Medicine Wheel has been used by generations of various Native American tribes for health and healing. The Medicine Wheel can take many different forms.
We have chosen to make a garden for you to learn about these very special plants. Some of these plants can be considered becoming endangered so as we make attempts at restoring the marsh, we can also save these very important plants that you may find wild in this area into one garden plot. Some Indigenous healing plants from our local area featured here are:
Blood Root (Sanguinaria Canadensis – also known as Bloodwort, and Indian Plant): Blood Root a perennial flowering plant. The rhizome (or root) of this plant contains chemicals that help fight bacteria, inflammation, and plaque. Traditionally, it was used to treat sore throats, wounds, and tooth/gum ailments, among other things.
Wild Bergamot (Monarda Fistulosa – also known as Bee Balm): Wild Bergamot is a perennial flowering plant. The blossoms of this plant contain chemicals that work as an anti-inflammatory, an antiseptic, along with other uses, such as being made (sometimes also with the leaves) into tea to treat colds and flu.