People of Wheat and Corn

Once, years ago, a local Indigenous Elder told me his people were People of the Corn (or maize if you prefer). He went on to explain the statement with information about agricultural and ceremonial traditions to contextualize it culturally. It stuck with me as a teaching.

But while I understood his nation’s relationship with corn and a little about how corn was part of ceremony, I confess, I didn’t truly understood this viscerally as a teaching until this winter. I don’t think it really became a “knowing” for me until I realized that “my” people are also people of corn (in the more broad definition of corn: the Germanic/Dutch root meaning grain. My people (modern and ancestral) are People of the Wheat. And yes, I appreciate the irony in that (white people of European descent often being represented by the wheat emoji). But let me clear: I don’t think that being a person of wheat or corn is about race. I think it’s about ceremony and relationship to land. I think it’s about how you or your ancestors build sacred relationship with harvest, abundance, and security in relation to the land.

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