Buffalo Bird Woman, a Hidatsa Indian born about 1839, was an expert gardener. Following centuries-old methods, she and the women of her family raised huge crops of corn, squash, beans, and sunflowers on the rich bottomlands of the Missouri River in what is now North Dakota. When she was young, her fields were near Like-a-fishhook, the earth-lodge village that the Hidatsa shared with the Mandan and Arikara. When she grew older, the families of the three tribes moved to individual allotments on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.
In Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden, first published in 1917, anthropologist Gilbert L. Wilson transcribed the words of this remarkable woman, whose advice today's gardeners can still follow. She describes a year of activities, from preparing and planting the fields through cultivating, harvesting, and storing foods. She gives recipes for cooking typical Hidatsa dishes. And she tells of the stories, songs, and ceremonies that were essential to a bountiful harvest.
A new introduction by anthropologist and ethnobotanist Jeffery R. Hanson describes the Hidatsa people's ecologically sound methods of gardening and Wilson's work with this traditional gardener.