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Native American Pumpkin Mythology

Pumpkins are technically a type of squash and are considered as such by some Native American tribes, where pumpkins were grown alongside corn and beans as one of the mythological Three Sisters of agriculture. Pumpkins are one of the earliest known food crops in the Americas, with ancient containers of stored pumpkin seeds from Mexico dating back as far as 7000 BC. Pumpkin flesh and seeds were both popular food items among many Native American tribes. Pumpkins were especially important to the diet of the Tohono O'Odham people, who ground pumpkin seeds into flour and mixed it with corn meal to make flavorful breads. Some Mexican tribes believe pumpkin seeds give exceptional energy and endurance to the people that eat them, and the Cocopa tribe of Arizona considers pumpkin seeds protection against the cold.

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Pumpkins are also a clan symbol in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Pumpkin Clans include the Navajo, Hopi, and Pueblo tribes. Some Pueblo tribes also have a Pumpkin Flower Dance among their tribal dance traditions.

Native American Legends About Pumpkins

Huron Creation Myth:
    Huron Indian tale about the origin of pumpkins, corn and beans.

Recommended Books of Pumpkin Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Princess Scargo and the Birthday Pumpkin:
    Children's book illustrating a Native American pumpkin story of New England.
The Sun's Daughter:
    Picture book for kids based on an Iroquois legend about the three sisters Maize, Red Bean, and Pumpkin.
Native Plant Stories:
    Excellent collection of Native American folklore about plants, by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden:
    Interesting book about Native American farming traditions narrated by a Hidatsa woman.
Native American Food Plants:
    Comprehensive book on the names and traditional uses of food plants throughout Native North America.



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