Miincipahkinki ‘In the Cornfield’

Planting and caring for miincipi ‘corn’ is a generations old summertime activity for Myaamiaki. This is reflected in our lunar calendar system, which has one month named for a stage of the growth miincipi and strong ecological connections to three other months (see the image caption below for more details on miincipi’s connection to the Myaamia lunar calendar).

This summer, staff of the Myaamia Center and students of the Myaamia Heritage Program at Miami University are working together to care for a small miincipahki ‘corn field’ in Oxford, Ohio. The miincipi we are caring for is white flour corn that is unique to Myaamiaki. In 1718, the French soldier Jacques Charles de Sabrevois stated that the Myaamia “raise a kind of Indian corn which is unlike that of our tribes at Detroit. Their corn is white, of the same size as the other, with much finer husks and much whiter flour.”[1] This same miincipi is still with us today. The story of the preservation of Myaamia miincipi is one that deserves more respect and attention, and we will return to that story in a future blog post.

Due to heavy rains and a busy schedule, we planted a little late this year on the second day of Paaphsaahka Niipinwiki ‘Mid-summer Moon’ (June 12). You can see a video from the planting day below.

Just ten days after planting, on the twelfth day of Paaphsaahka Niipinwiki, nearly the whole miincipahki had sprouted and the plants were already three to four inches tall with leaves as long as six inches.

Miincipi 10 days after planting, 2021 Photo by George Ironstrack

We returned to the field on the nineteenth day of Paaphsaahka Niipinwiki to weed the field. After weeding, we found that moohsooki ‘White-tailed deer’ had eaten around ten plants. However, the rest of the plants were doing great with many around eight inches tall with leaves nearly two feet in length.

Miincipi 17 days after planting, 2021 Photo by George Ironstrack

Historically, some Myaamia-Inohka called this time of the year Ciikanta Kiilhswa ‘Hoeing Moon’ because this was the point in the summer where the community would weed the fields and, using loose soil, hill up small mounds around each stalk of corn so that the plant is supported as it grows. Myaamia miincipi can easily reach ten to twelve feet tall in a good year and the plants need a lot of support around their base to maintain that height without tipping over. Because we planted late, we won’t hill our miincipi until the next lunar month.

Follow Eemamwiciki on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more regular updates from miincipahkinki ‘in the corn field’ and continue to follow this blog for two or three longer updates over the course of this summer. In the meantime, see the video below for a quick tour of the miincipahki from our hoeing/weeding day.

A short video tour of the miincipahki. Video by George Ironstrack

[1] Sabrevois is quoted in W. Vernon Kinietz and Antoine Denis Raudot, The Indians of the Western Great Lakes : 1615-1760 (University of Michigan Press, 1990), 171-72.

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