Collections: Crops Team (2015)

Our team is responsible for the “crops” collection. With each new drawer we look at, we become more amazed (or a-maized) at how many different kinds of corn that have been collected from Hopi people. So far we have already archived 16 different types of corn! We all wondered why they grew so many types of corn. Do they all have different uses? Also, did the Hopi purposefully genetically select for all these types of corn, or did they just happen to be growing in that area of Arizona?


Some of the items examined by the Crops Team

One specimen of corn that stood out to us was the purple corn. We had seen red, yellow, and blue corn in some form or another in supermarkets (as popcorn, fall decor, corn chips, or frozen), but never purple corn. It definitely stood out among the others and sparked our interests. We wondered what this purple corn tasted like. We also wanted to know the conditions or genetic differences that made it such a beautiful and unique purple color. Did they grow this beautiful corn strictly for food or was it just for decorations?

Another specimen that interested us particularly was a very small gourd. Mostly we just thought it was neat, since it is so tiny and preserved so well. It looked very similar to the pumpkins we use this time of year to carve for Halloween in the U.S. We are sure it must have had a different use for the Hopi and we are interested in what it was.


Collections: First Mesa Team (2014)

We began the process of First Mesa documentation by looking at the physical seeds themselves.  Immediately, we were all struck by how well preserved these seeds were despite being seventy-nine years old.  Each respective seed looked like it had just been collected within the last few weeks rather than several decades ago.  We were also impressed by how large the seeds were despite not being genetically modified.  Relying on traditional growing practices rather than modern science can produce crops that are equally as large.

Gourd and Corn from First Mesa

A gourd and corn from First Mesa

The variety of crops also impressed us greatly.  We were not aware of how many varieties of corn and beans can be grown and consumed before beginning our documentation. What also was interesting was the fact that these crops were grown in a place that isn’t “suited” for growing showing that indigenous knowledge of the land surpasses eurocentric ideas of agriculture! Our teacher was sure to mention that even during the Dust Bowl, many thousands of people got hit hard but these Hopi lands were virtually untouched. It is fascinating to witness the rare beauty of agriculture from so long ago!

Written collaboratively by Daniel, Laura, and Mary