Corn and Wampum

Betty Booth Donohue

in Bradford's Indian Book

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780813037370
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813042336 | DOI:
Corn and Wampum

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  • Literary Theory and Cultural Studies


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This chapter explicates both the symbolic and actual uses of corn and wampum in Native daily and ceremonial life, and illustrates how Of Plimoth Plantation contains corn and wampum tropes. Corn is not only a staple Native food; it is also an item of veneration and a Native sacramental. There are corn deities, such as the Cherokee Selu, and Native people are often named for corn as a sign of respect. Corn is thought to have generative capabilities, which corn pollen is used, in Navajo sandpaintings, to animate. Wampum was first used by Natives as an incipient writing system, but was later corrupted and became used as currency. Both corn and wampum are closely related to people and their welfare. When corn and wampum were used for commercial gain, however, both Plymoutheans and Natives suffered.

Keywords: Cherokee; corn; corn deities; corn pollen; corn tropes; Native foods; Navajo; sandpaintings; Selu; wampum

Chapter.  6051 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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