Iowans Begin Raising Food

Time Frame: Approximately 2,000 Years Ago

Approximately 2,000 years ago Indians transitioned from gathering food to growing crops. Their main crop was maize (corn).
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“First People of the Prairies,” The Iowa Heritage: Program # 1, Iowa Public Television, 1979.

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Between 3,000 and 1,000 years ago, the climate had so changed that edible plants were more available to the people of Iowa. Eventually they began to plant the seeds from these plants themselves. And with a little patience and care they could harvest a more reliable food supply. In man progress from gathering to raising his food his life of roaming the prairies gradually changed to a more settled lifestyle. He found that the soft soil on the river bottoms was easier to till with his primitive tools then the tough prairie sod. And he began to cultivate beans and squash to supplement his diet of wild animals that he continued to hunt. One of the most important crops the Indians grew was corn, or maize as it was known to them. Corn was first cultivated in Central America and through the centuries was passed northward from tribe to tribe. Eventually it reached Iowa. The hard kernels of corn were crushed by stones into a fine meal, which was formed into cakes to be baked or fried. Life among the Indians were governed by the seasons. In the spring they pitched their camps and planted crops, then most men set out on the summer hunts in pursuit of the migrating herds. Women and young children were left to attend the crops.


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