Indigenous Cultivar and Wildcrafting Curriculum

Final Report for ENC12-133

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2012: $75,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
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Project Information


Little Priest Tribal College developed and provided a indigenous cultivar and wildcrafting curriculum based on agricultural education and wild food gathering methods that will revitalize and enhance the knowledge base of educators from the local tribal community in order to broaden their access to local fresh foods. Agricultural educators will experience and refine this pilot curriculum. LPTC was established in 1996 to provide opportunity to the local tribal community through higher education as well as support the continuation of tribal Hocak’ (pronounced ho-chunk) cultural knowledge.



Education & Outreach Initiatives


 The curriculum included hands-on and on-line coursework. Subject theory and information were offered on-line while field work was held in Winnebago and surrounding locale. Little Priest Tribal College provided on-line capability and the use of the Student Center kitchen for cultivar and wildcrafting plant processing. Specialty topics included pest management, organic farming practices, and erosion control. Plant identification, collection, and gardening were done in field programs during the spring to fall season.


Local participants, to a limited extent, also helped plant and care for a three-sisters garden of Indian corn, beans, and squash and learned the Hocak’ method of harvesting and preserving these foods for later use. The Hocak’ families who care for their Indian corn consider it a sacred food, therefore cultural issues may need negotiation and possible use of proxy varieties as a teaching tool. However, the focus was on the concept of growing good, healthy, pure corn and what the steps are to reach that goal.




Outcomes and impacts:

Project Outcomes

Short term

? Participants learned indigenous crop production techniques that produce and conserve the crop species while protecting soil resources.

? Participants learned techniques of native plant identification, use and conservation.



? Participants incorporated the materials and techniques from this training into their own Extension programming or course curricula.

? Participants developed materials and techniques for local use, e.g. tribe-specific practices, additional crops, identify local expert trainers, etc.


Long term

? Alternative methods of farming and accessibility to food will be shared among tribes and their neighbors that will improve the health and quality of life through increased access to fresh, local foods.

? Tribal members will reconnect with cultural traditions of food production and appreciation of the natural world.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.