Green Corn Ceremony
The Seneca Nation’s Longhouse Green Corn Ceremony was held during the first days of September in 2011. The primary focus of Green Corn is to give thanks for the corn crop and recognize the start of the harvest season. The dates of this ceremony are determined by nature and the corn’s growth, not by an arbitrary annual calendar date. The Green Corn Ceremony recognizes the time when the corn, the most important crop of the “three sisters” – corn, squash and beans – can begin to be harvested.
To determine the date of the Green Corn Ceremony, the progress of one field of corn is followed and checked regularly. When this corn is ripe, that is when the Green Corn Ceremony is held. This field is planted by the same farmer every year, using the white corn traditional to the Seneca, and the harvest is given to the Seneca Nation. The corn is then braided and hung to dry in the Longhouse.
Green Corn is the second largest of the thirteen annual Longhouse ceremonies, second only to Midwinter. As such, it is one of two times in the year when babies can receive names, names can be changed from baby names to adult names, faithkeepers are chosen and receive their faithkeeper names, and chiefs can be selected. Green Corn is a series of ceremonies and lasts a minimum of five days. It can go longer depending on how long the final ceremony, the dish game, lasts.
In September 2011, the final days of the Green Corn Ceremony coincided with the first two days of the Salamanca school year, making for a difficult choice for Seneca parents and their children. This is one of the few times during the year that Seneca families can experience full immersion in their language and practice an important cultural ritual to preserve their heritage. It is a time of vibrant, participatory, inter-generational education for all who attend.