Combing for cranberries with a cranberry scoop


Helen Manning [1919-]
was born in Aquinnah (formerly Gay Head), Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. She is a respected tribal Elder, educator, historian, and storyteller. She grew up spending the school year in Washington, D.C. with her mother's family, but she spent most of her summers on the island. Her father ran a Vineyard restaurant, and then an inn with its own restaurant, and her mother supervised the kitchens. Manning began her teaching career in Washington, D.C. schools in the early 1950s. After returning full-time to the Vineyard in 1956, she taught in Aquinnah's one-room public school until it closed in 1968 and then in a public school in Oak Bluffs. Her career has included directing her tribe's Education Department and serving on the tribal council and in town government. Because Manning feared the loss of her community's stories and her own memories, in 2001 she published Moshup's Footsteps. In it, she recalls stories about Aquinnah and Moshup's legends and provides recipes from her collection that celebrate the bounty of the island and sea.

Wampanoag (womp-uh-No-ag)

Let's explore Native American foods  An estimated 80 percent of the food consumed in the United States and 50 percent of foods eaten worldwide were developed by Native American agronomists. Tomatoes, corn, beans, squash, pineapple, wild rice, and potatoes are a few crops domesticated by Native Americans. Host a Native American Foods Day for parents. Have the class research and prepare Native recipes. Use measuring to make this a math activity as well. Have the students design invitations and decorate the room with food illustrations. Have the students research and tell traditional Native American stories about foods and their origins.

Let's investigate our sources of food Native agronomists were successful because they used a variety of methods, like symbiotic planting and natural ways of discouraging pests. Because of the nature of modern agribusinesses, contaminants like pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and antibiotics are rampant in our food supply and much of our food is grown in toxic soil. However, using natural methods of food production can ensure that there will be healthy plants and soil in the future. Some organizations are leading the movement to produce healthy non-toxic food. Have the students contact one of the following for information: Children's Environmental Health Network, Mothers and Others for a Livable Planet (40 West 20th Street, New York, NY 10011; 888-326-4636) and the Environmental Justice Resource Center. Have students compile information and develop information flyers for the community If you have a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in your area, invite a representative to make a presentation at your Native American Foods Day.

Making connections  Many Native nations or individual tribal members operate food businesses. Have the students research the businesses, write to them, or go on-line to obtain catalogs. If your budget allows, order some provisions for your Native American Foods Day. Some companies to consider are: Red Corn Native Foods; Dennis Banks and Co., Ltd.; White Earth Land Recovery Project (Native Harvest); Daybreak Farming and Food Program; San Juan Agricultural Cooperative; and Fish Point Seafood.

Suggested Resources
Cape Cod Wampanoag Cookbook: Wampanoag Indian Recipes, Images and Lore. Earl Mills and Betty Breen. Santa Fe, NM: Clear Light Publishers, 2000.

Clambake: A Wampanoag Tradition. Russell M. Peters. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications Co., 1992.

"I Knew That We Had a Special Place: Childhood in Aquinnah." In Vineyard Voices: Words, Faces, and Voices of Island People. Linsey Lee and Mark Lennihan. Edgartown, MA: Martha's Vineyard Historical Society, 1998. pp. 210-212.

Moshup's Footsteps. Helen Manning, with Jo-Ann Eccher. Aquinnah, MA: Blue Cloud Across the Moon Publishing Co., 2001.

Native Harvests: American Indian Wild Foods and Recipes. E. Barrie Kavasch. Washington, CT: Institute of American Indian Studies, 1998.
Community Supported Agriculture
Helen Manning Oral History Interview 
Wampanoag Tribe

Return to Children of Native America Today Main Menu

Children of Native America Today: An Activity and Resource Guide copyright 2003 Shakti for Children, Inc.
Used with permission by Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.