Corn Seeds - Kanú·ta·ʔ (Bearpaw)
- Seed Count: 85 Seeds
- Maturity: 90-100 Days from Planting/Transplanting
- Plant Height: Medium Stalk
- Origin: Tuscarora Tradition
- Unique Feature: Produces two heads per ear
The Bearpaw Corn, also known as Kanú·ta·ʔ, carries a deeply rooted story within the Tuscarora community. Legend speaks of a hunter who stumbled upon a scene of nature's raw power—a massive rattlesnake consuming a deer fawn. As the narrative unfolds, the doe returns to the scene, avenging its fawn by overpowering and killing the snake. Profoundly impacted by this encounter, the hunter chose to elevate both the snake and the fawn on a wooden platform. When he returned in the fall, where the two animals lay, a stunning white corn had sprouted, uniquely producing two heads per ear. Even more intriguingly, at the corn's base, a non-vining squash emerged. Taking this discovery to the clan mothers, they discerned its unique properties, which subsequently benefited the community. This tale not only offers an indigenous origin for the corn but also challenges the popular belief that bush squashes were introduced by Europeans. This sacred corn's memory persisted among some Tuscarora elders, even if it had faded from regular cultivation. The name and story were documented by JNB Hewitt, an ethnographer of Tuscarora descent, between 1888-1889.
Beyond its spiritual and cultural significance, Bearpaw Corn has culinary merits. The corn's kernels, when ground, yield a distinct flour, rich in flavor, suitable for traditional dishes ranging from native breads to other indigenous recipes. Its distinctive taste and texture differentiate it from mainstream corn varieties, offering a genuine taste of history.
Growing Habits & Planting Instructions:
To cultivate Bearpaw Corn, start by sowing the seeds about an inch deep, ensuring a spacing of 8-12 inches apart, and keep rows approximately 24-36 inches apart. True to its heritage, Kanú·ta·ʔ flourishes under the full embrace of the sun. The fertile, well-draining soil forms the ideal bed for its growth. It's imperative to maintain consistent moisture levels, particularly during pivotal stages such as flowering and kernel development. Being an heirloom variety, it's of utmost importance to shield it from cross-pollination, ensuring the preservation of its unique characteristics.