The Three Sisters

Three Sisters Recipe - by Chef Inyan

Chef Inyan Eagle Elk (Ho-Chunk and Sicangu Lakota) lives in rural South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation with his wife and daughter. Inyan has been working with Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) to advance our food sovereignty and wellness initiatives for the past three years throughout our Northern Plains service area. He recognizes that growing food is a critical element to successful food sovereignty initiatives in tribal communities.

The Three Sisters

In Native American culture, the centuries-old proven tradition of the “Three Sisters” method of planting includes corn, beans, and squash. These three plants are important in traditional Native American agriculture as well as in cooking.

When planted together, they support each other during the growing season. The corn is planted first, then the beans, and finally the squash. The corn provides a stalk for the beans to climb and gives the squash vines room to spread. The large squash leaves help the ground stay shaded while keeping the soil from drying out and reducing weeds. The bean plants help the other plants grow because they contribute nitrogen to the soil. The beans also anchor the corn in place when there are strong winds.

When used together in cooking, the Three Sisters create a balanced meal of carbohydrates, protein, and fiber, each providing different vitamins and nutrients we all need for good nutrition.

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A photo of corn, beans, squash

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