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Traditional Native Americans' uses for sunflowers

Making It Grow Minute Extra logo

The N R S C Plant guide for sunflowers is fascinating. Among some of the sayings associated with sunflowers from the Teton Dakota tribes is “When the sunflowers were tall and in full bloom, the buffaloes were fat and the meat good.” Many tribes recognized the value of an infusion of sunflowers to treat chest pains. A sun sand painting ceremony performed by many peoples used sunflowers as a coloring agent for yellow, black and purple, the completed work was then erased.

One of the accounts I found to be a movingly beautiful is the account of warriors carrying a bag holding nutritious sunflower seed balls, each wrapped in a piece of buffalo-heart skin, to consume on lengthy treks. Image - Buffalo heart skin – the intimate knowledge of the animals and plants which supported their cultures.

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