Ne'kochinya'pay pamwetoWe Are Doing Our Best to Carry it
Image of Eli and Eliza Ellis Provided: Courtesy Northeastern State Community Archives, Talequah, Oklahoma
Resources from the land and rivers were essential to Shawnee people. Harvesting and hunting activities were closely tied to the passage of seasons and the cyclical availability of plants and animals. Men and women had reciprocal roles in food gathering, growing, and preparation, together ensuring a bountiful food supply.
In the fall and winter men hunted deer (P’sikthee), squirrel (hanikwa), river otter, rabbit (petakine’thi), raccoon (ha’thepati), turkey(pileski’pelewa), duck (sisipa), and other game. When it came time to plant, women and children planted corn, beans (M’skocheethakey), pumpkins (wapi’kwa), and other crops. Women also gathered wild plants, roots, fruits and tree sap, and oversaw the preparation of food. The Shawnee continue to recognize these roles in ceremonies.
Shawnee tribal member Eric Wensman explains, “it is a mutual deal. Yes, men would hunt, and women butchered and prepared the food. This role is mainly for our ceremonies now. Everyday work is equally shared. It is important that we listen to our old men and old ladies so we can continue our traditions.”