Events ~ Corn Planting Ceremony, Portsmouth

Aquidneck Island Intertribal Indian Council
Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Bear and I were invited to attend the Aquidneck Island Intertribal Indian Council's Corn Planting ceremony over the weekend. C was out for the weekend, and she joined us as well. The weather was perfect, warm and sunny with enough breeze to avoid being too hot.

The full moon in April is the Corn Planting Moon, and this particular ceremony was derived from the Cherokee ritual. According to my grandmother, we have some Cherokee ancestry, so it was especially interesting.

We didn't photograph the ceremony itself, but we were able to take shots of the rehearsal.

It begins with the Corn Maiden (that's Anastasia) being brought into the Sacred Circle by the Warrior Guard (Chief Blue Eagle). They approach the Sacred Fire. The Corn Maiden carries a basket of corn kernels.

Warrior Guard and Corn Maiden

Seven women of the tribe approach the Corn Maiden one by one. They each take a handful of corn and back away from the sacred fire, walking around the circle to one of the seven points staked out within the circle. Since the Sacred Fire carries their messages and prayers to the God or Creator, they do not turn their back to it.

Receiving corn

The points are positioned at points of the compass, with only the east left open. This is the position of the Sun and is left open for him.

Planting corn

Once all seven women are in their positions, the first one takes four steps toward the Sacred Fire. Using a pointed stick, she makes a hole in the ground and drops in some corn, then covers the hole with dirt. She repeats this action four times, then the next woman takes her turn.

Planting Corn

Once all the women have planted their corn, they return, again one at a time, to the Corn Maiden to return any corn they did not use. Each woman backs out of the circle, and the next starts her turn.

During the actual ceremony, a single drummer counts out beats. The drum is huge, as big as a bass drum in a marching band. The drum, too, is sacred, and is played only by men. It is said that the drum was a gift from women to men, and so women don't touch the drum. Women participate in the drumming by putting her hand on her man's left shoulder as he drums.

The ceremony was followed by a pipe ceremony, drumming, dancing and food, which we unfortunately missed. Chief Three Horses Sly Fox sent some photos of the activities:



drumming noah looks on

the drumming circle

Sadly, my older daughter was getting quite sunburned by the time the planting ceremony ended, and we had to get her home. There was still so much more to see and learn when we left, and we look forward to going to other ceremonies. Special thanks to Chief Three Horses Sly Fox for his kind and generous welcome, and to all of the Council for sharing their ceremony with us.

Amazon carries a book called The Cherokee Full Circle: A Practical Guide to Sacred Ceremonies and Traditions that has more information.

Amazon also carries a book on Sacred Drumming.


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