Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Week 04
Lecture 01
Native American
Forestry
Management
and
Agricultural
Technology
Last Updated 16 November 2013
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
1
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Native American Forestry Management and Agricultural
Technology
The learning objectives for week 04 are:
– to understand the nature of North American Indian
agro-forestry
– to appreciate how modern science is making use of
Native American farming practices
– to appreciate how modern science is making use of
Native American land management practices
– to understand and appreciate some of the most
important medical contributions of Native Americans
to the world (Week 04 lecture 02)
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
2
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Native American Forestry Management and Agricultural
Technology
Terms you should know for week 04 are:
– back fire
– conuco
– polyculture
– the three sisters
– quinine
– curare
– ipecac
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World: Dr. Richard W. Franke
Native American Forestry Management and
Agricultural Technology
Week 04 Sources:
Cronon, William. 1983. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. New York:
Hill and Wang. Where the Europeans saw a wilderness with savages, modern ecological studies find a
managed environment.
Densmore, Frances. 1974 [orig. 1928]. How the Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine and Crafts. New
York: Dover Publications.
Jacke, Dave with Eric Toensmeier. 2005 Edible Forest Gardens: Ecological Design and Practice for Temperate
Climate Permaculture.Volume I: Vision and Theory. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing
Company. Esp. page 174
_____. 2005 Edible Forest Gardens: Ecological Design and Practice for Temperate Climate
Permaculture.Volume II: Design and Practice. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing
Company. Esp. pages 531-34
Mt. Pleasant, Jane. 2001. The Three Sisters: Care for the Land and the People. In James, Keith, ed. Science and
Native American Communities: Legacies of Pain, Visions of Promise. Lincoln: University of Nebraska
Press. Pp. 126–34;
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
4
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World: Dr. Richard W. Franke
Native American Forestry Management and
Agricultural Technology
Sources (contd):
Thornton, Russell. 1987. American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History Since 1492. Norman:
University of Oklahoma Press. Surveys the various estimates of the native population of the New World at
the time of European contact. The population figures play an important role in the debate over the extent of
Indian forest management described in the Michael Williams book below.
Weatherford, Jack. 1991. Native Roots: How the Indians Enriched America. New York: Fawcett Columbine.
More details on the topics first taken up in Indian Givers.
Williams, Michael. 1988. Americans and Their Forests: A Historical Geography. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press. Chapter 2 -- "The forest and the Indian" -- pages 22-49 -- describes the many ways Native
Americans managed the forests of North America. Surprises galore await the reader of this text.
Wolkomir, Richard. 1995. Bringing ancient ways to our farmers' fields. Smithsonian 26(8):99-107. November
1995. Describes the work of Iroquois agronomist Jane Mt. Pleasant of Cornell University who is studying
the environmental and agricultural output consequences of the Iroquois "three sisters" system of corn, beans
and squash that preserve soil fertility.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
5
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Native Americans Among the World’s
Greatest
–
–
–
–
Plant breeders
Biodiversity protectors
Agricultural technologists
Environmental managers – including
advanced forms of agroforestry and
other land management techniques
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
6
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Modern Scientists Have Discovered
–
–
–
–
Plants require 18 essential elements to live
Most from the soil
Carbon, oxygen and hydrogen from air and
Nitrogen most difficult to get from air – …
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Nitrogen thus a crucial “limiting factor” in plant
growth
– Modern agriculture gets from oil and natural gas see the Haber-Bosch
process described later in this lecture
– Expensive and amount is ultimately limited by fossil fuel availability
– Easy to over-fertilize…excess can run off into local water systems and
poison humans – this “reactive nitrogen” a major problem today
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
8
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Nitrogen thus a crucial “limiting factor” in plant growth
Native Americans solved the problem by planting “nitrogen accumulators” near
their food plants
–
–
–
–
Black locust, mahogany, bayberry trees
New Jersey tea shrub
Peanuts and related plants
Vetch and bean plants; also most acacias
Sources: Jacke, Dave with Eric Toensmeier. 2005 Edible Forest Gardens: Ecological Design and Practice for Temperate Climate
Permaculture.Volume I: Vision and Theory. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company. Esp. page 174
_____. 2005 Edible Forest Gardens: Ecological Design and Practice for Temperate Climate Permaculture.Volume II: Design and
Practice. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company. Esp. pages 531-34
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
9
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Other plants used to “accumulate” or “fix”
– Phosphorus – may be facing a world shortage, see later slides
– Potassium
– Calcium
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Fertilizers
•
•
•
•
•
Native Americans understood value of animal dung for plants
Used seaweed and…
Guano – the giant bird droppings fields in Peru
Inca had regulated the guano supply
Peruvian guano helped England overcome soil fertility decline
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Vanilla
• Native Americans taught Europeans how
• Also how to cure by aging 4 – 5 months
• Fertilized and tended by hand
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Other Native American
Farming Technology
Achievements…
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
13
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Milpas
•
•
•
•
Plant crops on mounds rather than in rows
Leads to less erosion
May be a way to preserve soil in modern agriculture
Peruvian potato mounds shown in The Columbian Exchange a
sophisticated version of the milpa
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
•
•
•
•
Chinampas
“Floating gardens” of Aztecs
Did not float
Artificial islands built up on lakes
Very rich soil; high output
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
16
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
• Chinampas were food
Aztec empire
• Among the most
farming land ever
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Conuco
• Use root or sprout cuttings to develop
• Cassava, sweet potato and pineapple all
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
•
•
•
•
Polyculture
Mix various plants on same field instead
Makes natural barrier against pests and
Preserves long-term biodiversity and
See Iroquois three sisters example
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Mixed Farming and Polyculture:
North American Forest
Management
Before the Europeans
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Recent Research Shows Native
Americans Practiced
Sophisticated
Forest Management Techniques
Before the Europeans
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
21
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Native American Agro-forestry
1. Most Europeans saw North
America as a wilderness inhabited
by uncivilized “savages.”
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
2. Later researchers – following the
anthropologist Alfred Kroeber –
estimated the pre-colonial
population of North America at
about 1 million persons.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
3. In the past 20 years an entirely
new understanding of the
aboriginal conditions of North
America has emerged.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
4. Two basic points are now widely
accepted:
4.2 The pristine forests of NA were
actually managed ecosystems.
4.1 The population of NA was at least 9
million and could have been 18 million.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
25
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
5. The total population of the
Western Hemisphere, in fact, may
have been greater than that of
Western Europe.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
26
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
6. If point 5 is true, why were such
low population estimates made
for 500 years?
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
27
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
7. Historical demographer
(population studies) Henry Dobyns
combed thru hundreds of
accounts of diseases and
epidemics that struck the Native
American population on contact
with Europeans after 1491.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
28
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
8. He found 41 major smallpox
epidemics from 1520 to 1899.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
29
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
9. 15 major measles outbreaks, 10
recorded influenza epidemics, and
incidents of bubonic plague,
diphtheria, typhus, cholera,
scarlet fever, and other diseases
not easily identifiable from the
account.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
30
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
9.1 The disease counts and other
information only make sense if the
native population had been many
times larger than 1 million.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
31
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
10. The relative genetic isolation of
Native Americans from the Old
World diseases had rendered
them uniquely vulnerable to
European and African pathogens.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
32
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Even Dobyns’
strongest critics
that the
America was
7 million
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
33
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
11. Epidemics played a major
role in the European conquest
of Native Americans.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
34
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
12. The horrible death toll
Dobyns retrieved from the
historical record has the
scientific effect of recasting
our estimates of the 1491
population of North America.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
35
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
13. Higher population estimates
lead to many changes in our
understanding of Indian life prior
to the introduction of Old World
diseases.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
36
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
14. In Eastern North America the
native peoples lived in villages
surrounded by fields on which
they grew a great variety of crops.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
37
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
15. We discussed these
crops in a previous
class and they are
described in
Weatherford’s chapters
4, 5 and 6 and in the
video “The Columbian
Exchange.”
The video is #2324 Part 6 in
Sprague Library
See also the book →
Crosby, Alfred W. Jr. 1972. The Columbian Exchange:
Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492.
Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
16. To grow these crops the
Indians used a “managed
ecosystem” approach.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
39
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
17. Partial clearings were
hacked out of the forest and
fire would burn off the
underbrush.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
40
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
18. Areas around the village
would be in various stages of
regrowth – a process
ecologists call environmental
successions.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
41
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
18a. Environmental succession:
a process by which plant communities move from grassland to
forest climax…
…in which they…
– accumulate biomass; and
– soil nutrients move from mineral form to organic matter
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
42
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
19. A European
the Indian village
Virginia in 1585
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
43
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
20. Much of the right side
of the painting shows corn
in various stages of growth.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
44
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
21. To the left of the corn next to the
pathway one can see pumpkins
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
45
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
22. By using fire and other devices to
maintain environmental successions,
the peoples of the NA Eastern
Woodlands maximized output of grains,
seeds, nuts, and berries; and attracted
deer and other game to the edges of
their villages.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
46
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
23. By NOT opening up large
monocrop cleared areas,
however, they allowed the forest
successions to maintain species
diversity (also called
“biodiversity”).
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
47
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
24. By not disturbing the
forests too much, the Native
Americans maintained the
root connections among
various plants, allowing them
to exchange nutrients.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
48
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
25. Modern plant
biologists have
recently discovered
the importance of
mycorrhizae (fungus
roots) that link forest
plants together into a
single healthy
ecosystem.
Source: Jacke, Dave, with Eric Toensmeier. 2005. Edible
Forest Gardens: Ecological Vision and Theory for Temperate
Climate Permaculture. Volume One: Vision and Theory.
White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing
Company. Pages 11−12; Capra, Fritjof. 1996. The Web of
Life. New York: Doubleday Anchor Books. Page 253.
(Sources added: Sunday, September 23, 2012).
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
49
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
26. The fires may also have
stimulated the growth of
mycorrhiza and the fires also were
sometimes used to drive game
into traps.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
50
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
27. Fires also stimulated the growth
of berry bushes, an important food
source.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
51
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
28. Native Americans invented the
“back fire,” a fire used to burn off
the path of an oncoming
uncontrolled natural fire.
Backfires are still used in modern
forest fire fighting today.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
52
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
29. Recent archaeological and
historical research suggests that
groups such as the Iroquois
moved their villages about once in
20 years to adjust to the various
forest successions. Some villages
may have been permanent.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
53
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
30. Most of the
meadows and
parklike forest areas
described by
colonists were
almost certainly the
products of Indian
ecological
management.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
54
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
31. It now appears likely that even
much of the prairie with its pure
grass stands – an unnatural
environment – was a product of
Indian ecological management
thru the use of fire.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
55
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
32. Far from being a pristine wild
and natural environment, it now
appears that the North American
continent was largely what
ecologists would call a “human
induced fire based subclimax.”
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
56
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
33. The predominance of pine trees
in many NA forests is itself
evidence of human ecomanagement – pine trees are part
of an ecological succession.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
57
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
34. Native American ecomanagement practices are now
influencing the theory and
practice of sustainable farming.
Also goes by the name
“permaculture”
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
58
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
35. Some Sources:
Cronon, William. 1983. Changes in the Land: Indians,
England. New York: Hill and Wang.
Dobyns, Henry F. 1983. Their Numbers Became Thinned:
Dynamics in Eastern North America. Knoxville:
Tennessee Press.
Jacke, Dave, with Eric Toensmeier. 2005. Edible Forest
Theory for Temperate Climate Permaculture. Volume
Theory. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green
Thornton, Russell. 1987. American Indian Holocaust and
Oklahoma Press.
Williams, Michael. 1988. Americans and Their Forests: A
49.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
59
Permaculture:
consciously designed
landscapes which mimic
the patterns and
relationships in nature
while yielding an
abundance of food, fiber
[and other products?]
for human needs.
David Holmgren
Monday, February 22, 2010
Sometimes also called
“biomimicry”
but actually involves
much more than
that…
Richard W. Franke Part 02 Slide 60
Ecovillage Ithaca: Laboratory for Sustainability?
Much remains to be learned
about permaculture’s
possibilities, especially the
potential of edible
landscapes.
Find out more about
permaculture at:
http://www.fingerlakespermaculture.
org/whatispermaculture.htm
18 September 2008
Richard W. Franke Part 02 Slide 61
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
Native American
Agriculture:
Iroquois “Three
Sisters” Farming
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
62
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The best known
example of Native
American
agricultural
sophistication comes
from the three
sisters system of
the Iroquois
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
63
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Iroquois are Mostly Famous in U.S.
History for the
League of the Iroquois
– Founded by Hiawatha and Deganwidah
between AD 1000 and AD 1450, under a
constitution called the "Great Law of
Peace"
– The League of the Iroquois united 5 Indian
nations:
64
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
League of the Iroquois
–
–
–
–
–
Mohawk: People Possessors of the Flint
Onondaga: People on the Hills
Seneca: Great Hill People
Oneida: Granite People
Cayuga: People at the Mucky Land
65
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
League of
the Iroquois
Source: Grinde, Donald
A. Jr. 1977. The
Iroquois and the
Founding of the
American Nation. San
Francisco: The Indian
Historian Press. Page
18.
66
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
37. Early European
explorers were
astounded at the
large amounts of
corn stored up in
Iroquois villages.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
67
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
In 1535 Jacques Cartier, and later
Henry Hudson, noted large granaries
filled with corn.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
68
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
In 1779 Continental Army general John
Sullivan reported destroying 6,000 bushels in
the village of Genesee New York and 160,000
bushels along the East Side of Seneca Lake
and surrounding areas.
Lewandowski 1987:78
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
69
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three
Sisters
Iroquois
agriculture was
based on the
“three sisters:”
corn, beans,
and squash.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
70
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The three sisters are also part of
the origin stories of the Iroquois
and other Northeast North
American groups.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
71
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The Iroquois farmed without the plow
and without commercial fertilizers – such
as today’s petroleum based ammonia to
fix nitrogen.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
72
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
Instead the women
planted a few corn
seeds at a time in
holes set about 3 ft
apart.
Modern agricultural
scientists now
recommend 5 ft
between the corn
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
plantings.
73
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
When the corn sprouted they weeded and
mounded up the soil around the stalks.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
74
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The mounds exposed the soil to the air,
helping it warm up in the spring; and
helped drain the soil.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
75
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
Two weeks later the
women planted
beans next to the
corn and then
squash between the
mounds.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
76
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The “3 sisters”
were now ready to
help each other:
– The corn provides a
pole for the beans
to climb on.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
77
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The big squash
leaves reduce
weeds and help
retain soil
moisture.
They are thus a
natural selfgenerating mulch.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
78
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The beans change
atmospheric
nitrogen into a form
it can be absorbed
(“fixed”) in the soil
– an important
nutrient for the
corn.
They function as a
substitute for the
high-tech Haber-
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
79
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The mounds prevent soil erosion and help
recycle the nutrients, especially when the
plant residues at harvest time are thrown
back on the mounds.
Weeding is made easier by moving from
mound to mound.
Wolkomir 1995; Hart 2008:87-88
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
80
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The Seneca, one of the Iroquois nations, are
known to have used at least one
organic-biological pest control: seeds
were soaked in Hellebore (Veratum
album or “false Hellebore”) extract. This
made the plant repellent to birds and
other pests.
Lewandowski 1987:82
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
81
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
It is not clear
whether Native
American biological
pest control
devices have been
tested by modern
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
scientists.
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The Three Sisters system in the Finger
Lakes region of New York state where
many of the Iroquois lived is at least
650 years old.
Hart, J. P. 2008. Evolving the Three Sisters: The Changing Histories of Maize, Bean, and Squash in
New York and the Greater Northeast. In Current Northeast Paleoethnobotany II. New York State
Museum Bulletin 512, edited by J. P. Hart, p. 90. The University of the State of New York, Albany,
New York.
Lewandowski, Stephen. 1987. Diohe’ko, The Three Sisters in Seneca Life: Implications for a Native
Agriculture in the Finger Lakes Region
of New
York
State.
Agriculture and Human Values 4(2-3):
Week 04 Native
American
Farming
Technology
83
77.
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The Three Sisters system, however,
could be 6,000 years old, based on
findings in Mexico that corn and
beans were being planted together in
the same fields at that time.
Lewandowski 1987:78
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Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The system may have thus migrated up
through North America before being
adopted by most of the Northeast
woodlands groups from modern Ohio to
New England.
Hart 2008
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Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The unique contribution of the Native
Americans in the Finger Lakes area
then would have been to adapt and
adjust the system to the area by
choosing and/or selecting appropriate
varieties of each crop.
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Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The Iroquois are known
from the research of
the famous American
ethnologist Lewis Henry
Morgan in 1850 to have
cultivated at least 3
types of corn. More
recent studies show they
knew of at least 5
types: soft, flint,
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three
Sisters
As well as at
least 60
varieties of
beans.
Lewandowski1987:89
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
And many types
of squash
including bottle
gourds used for
containers,
utensils and
rattles as s well
as several types
of pumpkins.
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Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The 3 sisters together provide a fairly
balanced diet of vitamins, minerals,
carbohydrates, and the full complement
of amino acids for proteins.
Hart 2008:88; Mt Pleasant 2001 and 2006
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
Corn is low in the amino acids
lysine and tryptophan, but
beans, it turns out, have ample
amounts of those two essential
protein builders
Lewandowski 1987:84
Corn has a 9.2% overall
protein content, compared with
8% for brown rice and 7% for
white rice.
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The Seneca made corn into hominy by
soaking it in wood ash – this made it
easier for humans to absorb the niacin
and some other nutrients – in other
words, it made the corn healthier to eat
– corn is the grain weakest in niacin.
Lewandowski 1987:84
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Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The manufacture
of hominy is
probably an
ancient Native
American craft,
known from
Mexico (as
nixtamal) and
throughout much
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93
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The Huron, whose diet was probably
similar to the Iroquois, and whose
diet was studied in some detail, ate
65% corn, 15% beans-squashpumpkins 10—15% fish and 5% meat.
They ate 1.3 pounds of corn per person
94
per day.
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The Seneca ate in addition: succotash*,
cornbread with fruit or beans, hominy
soups and stews, maple syrup, and
berries.
Lewandowski 1987:84
*Succotash comes from the
Narragansett language, an
Algonquian language like that
spoken by the Iroquois. It means
“boiled corn kernels.”
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The rising cost of petroleum and natural gasbased nitrogen fertilizer makes the Iroquois
approach appealing – and the threat of a
worldwide phosphorous shortage adds to
the comparative advantage of the three
sisters approach.
Source on the looming phosphorous shortage:
Bates, Albert and Toby Hemenway. 2010. From Agriculture to Permaculture. In State of the World 2010: Transforming
Cultures – From Consumerism to Sustainability. Washington, D.C. The Worldwatch Institute and New York: W. W.
Norton. Page 50.
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
Using the natural fertilizers in the soil and
returning them at harvest time makes the
farming more “sustainable,” a goal now
widely accepted in environmental and policy
circles.
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
Sustainable farming may be even
more crucial than the slide above
suggests – because other
problems also loom in the near
future
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
In 1909 German chemists Fritz
Haber and Carl Bosch invented
a way to turn atmospheric
nitrogen into a form that could
be applied as liquid or pellets
on agricultural fields. Haber ↓
Bosch
Many scientists consider
the Haber-Bosch
process to be among
the most important
discoveries of the 20th
Century
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
One-half of all nitrogen
fertilizer used today is made
from the Haber-Bosch process
– the other half consists of
natural crop and animal wastes
Haber-Bosch today
generates more than
500 million tons of
nitrogen fertilizer
while utilizing 1% of
the world’s total
energy budget – mostly
natural gas burned in
the chemical alteration
Some observers claim
that up to 40% of all
humans alive today exist
only because of HaberBosch
http://www.idsia.ch/~juergen/haberbosch.html
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-haber-bosch-process.htm
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Montclair State University General Education Program
Gened 303 Globalization and Sustainability
Profs. Richard W. Franke and Barbara H. Chasin
The Earth’s
atmosphere near
the surface (up to
about 18 km or 11
mi) has lots of
nitrogen: 78% and
21% oxygen.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
101
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
But Haber-Bosch has two
limiting factors:
oil →
If energy descent theory
is correct, HaberBosch will be difficult
to sustain →and along
with it the food
production that
It requires tremendous amounts of
depends on it
heat and that currently means
burning large amounts of fossil
fuels, mainly petroleum and/or
natural gas.
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
2013 Update: Haber-Bosch Today
The October 21, 2013 New Yorker Magazine contains a
book review essay by Elizabeth Kolbert that includes an
interesting discussion of some of the current debates on
population growth and world environmental problems that
she connects with the Haber-Bosch discoveries.
To access the article, click here.
This slide was added 16 November 2013
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
A second problem with Haber-Bosch results
from its very success: we now have too
much nitrogen in the soils and fresh
waterways of earth. When nitrogen is a gas
in the atmosphere, it is considered “nonreactive.” In soil, rivers and lakes,
however, the nitrogen reacts with other
chemicals – too much nitrogen causes all
kinds of harmful side effects
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
The 2005 Millennium Ecological Assessment
considered reactive nitrogen one of the
most serious environmental threats to the
entire earth’s life support system.
Consider a few of their findings as described
in the next few slides…taken from their
report – all basically a consequence of
Haber-Bosch
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Millennium Ecosystem
Assessment Findings
Slides taken from the Millennium Assessment Report
Largest assessment of the health of
Earth’s ecosystems
Experts and Review Process
 Prepared by 1360 experts from 95 countries
 80-person independent board of review editors
 Review comments from 850 experts and governments
 Includes information from 33 sub-global assessments
Governance
 Called for by UN Secretary General in 2000
 Authorized by governments through 4 conventions
 Partnership of UN agencies, conventions, business, nongovernmental organizations with a multi-stakeholder board of
directors
Changes in direct drivers:
Nutrient loading
 Humans have already doubled the
flow of reactive nitrogen on the
continents, and some projections
suggest that this may increase by
roughly a further two thirds by 2050
Estimated Total Reactive
Nitrogen Deposition from
the Atmosphere
Accounts for 12% of the
reactive nitrogen entering
ecosystems, although it is
higher in some regions (e.g.,
33% in the United States)
Changes in direct drivers
Impacts of Excessive Nitrogen Flows
Environmental effects:
 eutrophication of freshwater
and coastal ecosystems
 contribution to acid rain
 loss of biodiversity
Contribution to:
 creation of ground-level ozone
 destruction of ozone in the
stratosphere
 contribution to global
warming
Resulting health effects:
 consequences of ozone
pollution on asthma and
respiratory function
 increased allergies and asthma
due to increased pollen
production
 risk of blue-baby syndrome
 increased risk of cancer and
other chronic diseases from
nitrate in drinking water,
 increased risk of a variety of
pulmonary and cardiac
diseases from production of
fine particles in the
atmosphere
Teragrams of Nitrogen per Year
300
250
200
150
Natural Sources
Total Human
Additions
Fertilizer
100
50
Agroecosystems
Fossil Fuels
0
1875
1925
Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
1975
2025
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
Here are the notes from the previous slide:
From: MA Synthesis Figure 14. Global Trends in the Creation of Reactive
Nitrogen on Earth by Human Activity, with Projection to 2050 (R9 Fig 9.1)
Most of the reactive nitrogen produced by humans comes from
manufacturing nitrogen for synthetic fertilizer and industrial use.
Reactive nitrogen is also created as a by-product of fossil fuel
combustion and by some (nitrogen-fixing) crops and trees in
agroecosystems. The range of the natural rate of bacterial
nitrogen fixation in natural terrestrial ecosystems (excluding
fixation in agroecosystems) is shown for comparison.
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
Notes continued…
Human activity now produces approximately as much reactive
nitrogen as natural processes do on the continents. (Note: The
2050 projection is included in the original study and is not based
on MA Scenarios.)
MA Synthesis SDM: “Since 1960, flows of reactive (biologically
available) nitrogen in terrestrial ecosystems have doubled, and
flows of phosphorus have tripled. More than half of all the
synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, which was first manufactured in 1913,
ever used on the planet has been used since 1985.”
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Percent Increase in Nitrogen Flows in Rivers
Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Some results of excessive reactive
nitrogen: eutrophication
Gulf of Mexico Dead Zone
Source: NOAA
The World’s 405 Dead Zones as of 2008;
up from 49 in the 1960s
Source: Biello, David. 2008. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=oceanic-dead-zones-spread
This is no small economic matter. A single low-oxygen event
(known scientifically as hypoxia) off the coasts of New York State
and New Jersey in 1976 covering a mere 385 square miles (1,000
square kilometers) of seabed ended up costing commercial and
recreational fisheries in the region more than $500 million. As it
stands, roughly 83,000 tons (75,000 metric tons) of fish and other
ocean life are lost to the Chesapeake Bay dead zone each year—
enough to feed half the commercial crab catch for a year.
Source: Biello, David. 2008. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=oceanic-dead-zones-spread
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
57. The 3 sisters are thus part of a new
farming movement called
“permaculture” that began in Australia
in the 1970s and is now taught at many
major US agriculture schools.
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
58. A key element of permaculture is
that food production fields should
“mimic” natural environments to the
greatest extent possible.
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Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
59. Iroquois 3 sister intercropping is
not like big US corporate farms where
a single crop is grown over a large
area
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Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
Large monocrop farms offer short term
but in the long run are more vulnerable
erosion and loss of soil fertility
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Farming Technology
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The Three
Sisters
By contrast,
the 3
sisters
system
promotes
biodiversity
– now
recognized
as a key
element in
both
organic
pest
resistance
and in long
Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Ant 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
Week 04 Native American Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
Sources on The Three Sisters:
Hart, J. P. 2008. Evolving the Three Sisters: The Changing Histories of Maize,
Bean, and Squash in New York and the Greater Northeast. In Current
Northeast Paleoethnobotany II. New York State Museum Bulletin 512,
edited by J. P. Hart, pp. 87-99. The University of the State of New York,
Albany, New York;
Lewandowski, Stephen. 1987. Diohe’ko, The Three Sisters in Seneca Life:
Implications for a Native Agriculture in the Finger Lakes Region of New York
State. Agriculture and Human Values 4(2-3): 76-93.
Week 04 Native American
Farming Technology
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
The Three Sisters
Sources on The Three Sisters:
Mt. Pleasant, Jane. 2001. The Three Sisters: Care for the Land and the People.
In James, Keith, ed. Science and Native American Communities: Legacies
of Pain, Visions of Promise. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Pp. 126–
34;
Mt. Pleasant, J. 2006. The Science Behind the Three Sisters Mound System:
An Agronomic Assessment of an Indigenous Agricultural System in the
Northeast. In Histories of Maize: Multidisciplinary Approaches to the
Prehistory, Biogeography, Domestication, and Evolutionof Maize, edited by
J. Staller, R. Tykot, and B. Benz, pp. 529–538. Academic Press, Burlington,
Massachusetts
Wolkomir, Richard. 1995. Bringing ancient ways to our farmers’ fields.
Smithsonian 26(8):99–107. November 1995.
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Montclair State University Department of Anthropology
Anth 140: Non Western Contributions to the Western World
Dr. Richard W. Franke
End of Slides on
Native American
Agricultural Technology
Weatherford chapter 5
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The Three Sisters - Montclair State University