History at Home: Play the Butter Bean Game!

Tue, Nov 3, 2020
This event has already occurred.
Western North Carolina Historical Association
(828) 253-9231

This is a variation on the tradition Cherokee Butterbean Game. It can be played by several individual players or several teams. Traditionally, this game uses three butterbeans that have been split in half. More…

From the Museum of the Cherokee Indian: Cherokee people began growing a form of corn two thousand years ago. By about a thousand years ago, or 1000 AD, they were growing corn and beans, as we know them today. Corn, beans, and squash was always grown together and was known as the “Three Sisters.” Beans restore nitrogen to the soil while corn depletes nitrogen. The vines of the beans and squash twined up the cornstalks. When corn and beans are eaten together, they provide complete proteins and amino acids for our diet.

Corn was so important to the Cherokee that they had important celebrations and ceremonies called “Green Corn Festivals.” The first of these was held in August, before the sweet corn was ready to eat. The last was held in October or November, when the
field corn was ready to be picked. At these ceremonies, people purified themselves physically and spiritually before feasting together. At this time, people got married and divorced. All old scores were settled and everyone started a new year together.