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Changing Gardens through Time
The Science Museum of Minnesota and the National Park Service worked together to create a garden about the Mississippi River. Step back through time and see how American Indian gardens along the Upper Mississippi River changed over the past 2,000 years. By 1,000 years ago, vast stores of food produced through active gardening were required to support towns like Cahokia, near St Louis, where nearly 20,000 people lived. Each of the large villages near Red Wing, Minnesota, may have supported and fed hundreds of people at this time.
Three Sisters Garden
The Science Museum of Minnesota's collections include 167 plant specimens and 90 food processing objects collected by Wesley Hiller. Hiller was a dentist in Minneapolis, and an avid amateur anthropologist. He spent years persistently building his seed collection during the 1930-1940's, focusing on ancient indigenous species.
Each year, the museum deaccessions plant seeds from the Hiller Ethnobotany collection for research purposes.
Since 2004, staff has successfully germinated seeds from the Hiller collection, which we plant yearly in the Big Back Yard. A symbiotic planting of beans to fix nitrogen in the soil, corn which acts as a trellis for the beans, and squash, a natural shade plant, is known as the Three Sisters Garden.
In successive years, we will experiment with germinating and planting different seed varieties from Hiller's original collection and hope to work with Native American communities on critical issues such as diabetes and diet.