Native Americans started planting and harvesting crops approximately 4,000 years ago after they discovered that the seeds could be harvested, stored, and replanted the following year. They started farming Maize in 200 A.D. but it was not widespread until 800 A.D. when it became a major part of their diet. The early forms of Maize were called Teosinte, the differences between Teosinte and modern day corn plants can be seen in the image to the right. Teosinte was more similar to grass than modern day corn and the cobs were shorter and had fewer kernels on them. It has been said that the white people would probably have been delayed a century in the production of Maize if the Native Americans hadn’t advanced the technologies of growing, storing, and using the cropexternal image corn-and-teosinte_h1-300x195.jpg.
external image Teosinte.jpg

Native American farmers of the Midwest utilized wood and bone hoes to cultivate the soil. These tools were unable to penetrate the tough sod on the plains so they were only able to cultivate the soil in river flood plains and marsh areas. Another common practice used by Native Americans was to use a scarecrow to ward off any crows trying to eat their crops. Sometimes the women and children would sit in the middle of the fields and yell or throw rocks and the crows to keep them away. Farmers in the southwest were able to use canal systems to provide water for their crops to grow in the dry and arid climate. The Hohokam tribe dug 150 miles of canals in order to provide water for their crops.

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Agriculture played a large role in linking the American Indians with the white colonist. Upon the colonist arrival to the new world they had a difficult time producing food in the new environment. The Indian’s crops fed the first colonist in Jamestown and Plymouth and on multiple occasions, Powhatan provided Jamestown with enough food to prevent the colonist from starving. The Europeans brought the concept of property ownership with them from the old world which proved to be a difficult concept for the Native Americans to understand. The European settlers made laws so that they would be able to prosecute the American Indians for the killing of the Europeans livestock even though the Native Americans thought the livestock was not owned by anyone. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, agriculture was used to assimilate the Indians to the white culture.

Agriculture is the backbone of over 230 tribes in the U.S. American Indians farm over 56.8 million acres of land and sold $1.64 billion of agricultural products in 2002. The Intertribal Agriculture Council is currently working to help new Native American farmers get started. They help the new farmers to get access to start-up capital, operating capital, and the necessary tools for production. The IAC developed a trademark to clearly identify products made by Native Americans to distinguish real Native American products from imitations

external image IAC-smtrade.jpg

The terraces that were built by the Incas in the 1400’s are one of the more advanced technologies used in Indian agriculture. Due to a 350 year drought from 1100-1450 A.D. the Incan's were forced to move up the mountains to live were water was more plentiful. The terraces are the only way the Inca’s could farm on the steep slopes of the Andes Mountains. This style of farming proved to be very effective and is still used in various forms in modern day agriculture. The Incan farmers grew a larger variety of crops than any other American tribe. They discovered the value of bird guano as a fertilizer that they were able to obtain from bird-islands off the coast of Peru. They were also the first to use a freeze dry process to preserve potatoes for later consumption.

external image img-agricultural-terraces.jpgexternal image sacred_valley_pisaq_terrace.jpg

Annotated Bibliography
1000, A.d. "Programs for American Indians/Introduction Preface." U.S. Department of Agriculture. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This article was found on the USDA’s website and contains information about the history of Native American Agriculture. This article also highlights some of the technologies that the Native Americans used in farming.
Bélanger, Claude. "National Congress of American Indians: Agriculture." National Congress of American Indians: Home. Marianopolis College, 2004. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. The accounts of white settlers and explorers observations are contained in this book that was originally published in 1907.
Cumo, Chris. "Native American Farming in Ohio." Our Ohio. Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, Inc. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <3.>. This website discusses some of the practices that were used by ancient Indians. It also interviews a farmer who is going some of these crops the same way the ancient Indians were.
Eddins, O. N. "Meso-American Indian Cultures." Mountains of Stone. 2010. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This website contains information about Meso-American Indian Cultures. I used a picture showing some of the differences between Teosinte and modern day corn
Hackett, Kathleen L. "Changes in American Agriculture: Exploring Changes after European and Native American Contact." Online Magazine and Writers' Network. 6 Oct. 2008. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This website discusses the changes that took place after the Europeans colonized in Jamestown. It also has information about the Europeans struggling to cultivate and farm the new lands.
"The Inca Agricultural Terraces: The "Andinas", Stepped Agricultural Techniques Used in Peru." Machu Picchu & the Sacred Valley of the Incas! Explore, Discover, Travel, Learn! Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This website contains information about the Incans terraces. It is very through about the reasons and advantages to using a terrace system for agriculture in the mountains, it also has a good picture of the terraces carved out of the side of a mountain.
"Inca Agriculture." The Incas Civilization. Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Nazca Lines, Peru. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This source contains a lot of information about the Incan's agricultural practices and the advances the Incan's had over white farmers when Machu Picchu was discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham.
"Inca Terraces." South American Indians FGL. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <13.>. This source contains a lot of information about the Incas and their farming practices. This website also has several good pictures of the terraces the Incan's used to farm in the Andes Mountains.
"The Inca's." Pleasant Ridge Union School District Home. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This source contains information on the Incan's culture, religion, government and agricultural practices. It contains good information about the technological advances that the Incan’s were able to utilize in there civilization.
"Intertribal Agriculture Council - RESOURCE MANAGEMENT." WELCOME TO INTERTRIBAL AGRICULTURE WEBSITE. Intertribal Agriculture Council. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This is the Intertribal Agriculture Council’s website that discusses the goals of modern day Native American farmers and the importance of protecting and conserving the available resources.
"Intertribal Agriculture Council." SuperMarket Cooperative Retail Store. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This website belongs to the Intertribal Agriculture Council, it contains information on how they help new Native American farmers get started, and some of the steps they take to gain more recognition for Native American agricultural products.
"Luxury Peru Tours: Inca Trail to Machu Picchu - Lima - Sacred Valley - Cuzco - Inca Trail - Machu Picchu." Machu Picchu Tours & Machu Picchu Travel. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This website sells tours of the ancient city Machu Picchu and other attractions related to the Incan civilization. I used this website because it has a good picture of the Incan terraces.
"National Congress of American Indians: Agriculture." National Congress of American Indians: Home. National Congress of American Indians. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This is the National Congress of American Indians website and it contains information on the current Farm Bill and what priorities Native Americans had for the Farm Bill reauthorization.
"Native American Farming." History of Illinois Agriculture Image Gallery. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <1.>. This source shows a picture of Native Americans harvesting seeds by some marshland.
Pratt, Athena. "American Indian Agriculture." Pacific Islands Area NRCS. United States Department of Agriculture. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This is the Natural Resources Conservation Service website they discuss the different practices of American Indian agriculture. It also contains information on the different uses the American Indians had for Maize.
Prindle, Tara. "NativeTech: Native American History of Corn." NativeTech: Native American Technology and Art. 1994. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This article contains information on the development of Maize and the role that Native Americans played in the evolution of Maize.
Selig, Ruth. "Origins of Agriculture in Eastern North America." Mesa Community College. 1993. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This source discusses the origin of Native American farming in Eastern North America. It gives a time-line of how their agricultural practices progressed over time.
Tdbourque. "A History of Corn | NRM101." ULearn - Open Learning from the Center for Distance Education, UAF. 12 July 2010. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This website contains a picture showing the differences between Teosinte and modern day corn.
Wessel, Thomas. "AGRICULTURE, INDIANS, AND AMERICAN HISTORY." Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This article discusses the importance Native American agriculture had in developing the first white colonies in North America. The Native Americans crops fed the first settlers in Jamestown and Plymouth and largely accounted for the colonist survival.
Woten, Rick L. "Ag History." Department of History. Iowa State University. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <>. This article contains information on the types of hoes that were used by the Native American Farmers. It also talks about the canal systems that were utilize by tribes in the southwest.