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Indigenous Peoples' Literature

The Green Corn Festival


Prior to the Green Corn Festival was the Ceremony held when the first green corn shoots appeared. For the Festival, chanting shamans and warriors circled a cooking fire, carrying cornstalks. These first ears were boiled, removed from the pot, and tied to four tepee-like poles above the fire, as a sacred offering to the Great Spirit. The first ashes were buried, then a large new fire was kindled, cooking corn for the entire village to share in the ensuing feast and dance.

No one of the Shawnee people was allowed to eat any corn, even from his own field, until the proper authority was given. When some corn was ready to be eaten, the one who had the authority announced the date for the Corn Feast and Dance.

On this occasion, great numbers of roasting ears were prepared, and all the people ate as freely as they desired. After this feast, everyone could have what he wished from that particular field.

This was probably the most highly esteemed Peace Festival among the Shawnees and other corn-growing tribes. It might properly be called the First Fruits Festival, similar to the First Roots Festival and the First Berries Festival held annually by many tribes.

Another Corn Feast was held in the fall, but not so universally as the one when the first corn was ready to be eaten. The first one of each year was held at planting time. It was a feast to secure the blessing of the Great Spirit, so that they might have a bountiful crop.

All of these were religious festivals, and all were accompanied by chants and dancing.




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