Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden: Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians

December 3, 2008

If you love gardening, history, and culture, or are looking for a gift for someone that does, consider the book, ‘Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden’, a first hand account of gardening by the Hidatsa Indians in the 1800’s.  This book was written by Gilbert L. Wilson, a Minnesota anthropologist, as his dissertation in 1917.  It was republished by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1987, and is an incredible historical document of the farming methods used by the Hidatsa people.  Buffalo Bird Woman was born around 1839 in the Missouri Valley area, and became an accomplished gardener amongst her people.  In the later part of her long life she shared a first hand account of the Hidatsa gardening methods and techniques with Gilbert Wilson, and most of the book is directly translated from Buffalo Bird Woman’s own words, complete with stories, jokes, and personal recollections about village life.

Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden describes planting, preparation, cultivating, harvesting and storing practices, as well as traditional songs and prayers sung to honor and encourage the garden’s yield.  Beautifully detailed drawings by her son Edward Goodbird illustrate Buffalo Bird Woman’s descriptions of gardening and storing produce and other activities. This book is walking, planting, and harvesting history, told with incredible detail that brings the old ways to life.  A fascinating read!!

book buffalo womans garden

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