Woodlands Native American Harvest Festival

Every Culture celebrates the harvest season. This program shows how Native Americans in the upper mid-west celebrate the harvest.

Welcome/Opening Activity:

Songs of welcome and/or thanks from Native American CDs.

Canyon Records, www.canyonrecords.comoffers a good catalog of Native music. They also offer a sampler CD of various music offered through the company.


Title:Four Seasons of Corn: A Winnebago Tradition
Author: Sally Hunter (Anishinaabe)
Publisher/Date: Lerner Publications, Minneapolis, MN, 1996. “We are Still Here” Series

Title:The Sacred Harvest: Ojibway Wild Rice Gathering
Author: Gordon Regguinti (Ojibwe)
Publisher/Date: Lerner Publications, Minneapolis, MN, 1992. “We are Still Here” Series,

Title:Lily’s Garden
Author: Deborah Kogan Ray
Publisher/Date: Roaring Book Press a division of the Millbrook Press, 2002.

Storytelling/Oral History:

There is a legend among the Oneida about why the Corn Husk Doll has no face.

“So, long ago when the Creator created everything on this earth, He created it with certain duties and responsibilities. The men were responsible for hunting and fishing and providing shelter for the families, and the women were responsible for working in the gardens and cooking the food and taking care of the children.

When the parents were out doing their responsibilities, the children were being left alone and getting into trouble. The boys might shoot their arrows into the woods and they’d go to find them and get lost. And, the girls were getting into trouble, or they might get too close to the fire and get burned.  The parents were having a hard time doing their responsibilities and taking care of the children, so they went to the Creator and they asked the Creator for help – to make something to take care of the children.  

So the Creator made the cornhusk doll, and it was one of the most beautiful creations ever made.   The doll had a beautiful face and had the power to walk and talk.   Cornhusk doll’s responsibility was to take care of the children, so the parents could get their work done. 

The Corn Husk doll did a really good job of taking care of the children and taught them many things.  Corn Husk doll taught the little boys to hunt and the little girls to cook.  Corn Husk doll loved the babies and told them many stories.

One day, a rainstorm came to the village. Grandfather Thunder came and he shook his head and raindrops would fall from his hair. Lightning would come from his eyes. Thunder would roar through his mouth.   Corn Husk doll gathered all the children into the long house and told them stories.  When Grandfather Thunder decided to move to another village, Corn Husk doll took the children outside to play.  

Corn Husk doll found a pool of water and when she looked in the pool,  she saw her reflection.  Corn Husk doll saw she was very beautiful and became vain about her good looks.

From that day on instead of watching the children, Corn Husk doll would only look at her reflection in the water.  She gathered flowers to put in her hair and Corn Husk doll sewed seashells on her dress to make herself look more beautiful. 

Corn Husk doll was spending so much time looking at her reflection that she was not watching the children.  They children were getting into trouble and getting hurt.   The parents were upset and told the Creator that the Corn Husk doll was not watching the children.   The Creator called Corn Husk doll and scolded her for not watching the children.  As a punishment, he sent the Owl to take away her face and her power to walk and talk.

From then on, the Oneida make corn husk dolls without faces to remind us that we must not be vain and we have duties and responsibilities that must be done.


Oneida Longhouse Singers of Wisconsin
Contact and ordering information: www.ohwejagehka.com/ols

Music from the Indian Summer Festival
Contact and ordering information: www.indiansummer.org


Corn Husk doll: : http://www.manataka.org/page67.html


  • 3 – 4 cleaned and dried corn husks (best time to get these husks in the fall after the corn has been harvested and the stalks are left in the field or go to a Mexican specialty shop and get husk used for tamales)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Large bowl of warm water

Soak corn husks in the bowl of water 5 minutes to make them pliable.  To make a boy corn husk doll, omit the shawl part and tie the string around the waist.  Split the bundle of husk below the waist to form the legs and tie off at the ankle.
These dolls are based on Penobscot Dolls illustrated by Frank G. Speck in the mid-1900’s. You will need the husks from one or two ears of corn for a 6″ doll. This should take you about 1 hour to make. Soak cornhusks (that have been thoroughly dried beforehand) for 10 minutes in warm water.

Games/Other Activities:

Show participants the differences between rice. Use quick cooking white rice, brown rice, cultivated wild rice and traditional wild rice. Place small packages or bowls with each of the uncooked types of rice in them. Participants will see the differences in texture and color.

Show uncooked sweet corn and Oneida corn. Show cooked corn. Oneida corn may be purchased from:

Tsyunhehkw^Retail ,2759 Ridgeway Plaza, Suite 8, Oneida, WI 54155
Phone: 920-497-5821

This corn is from a cannery on the reservation and is something that may be used when you are not allowed to bring in “homemade” items. They offer Oneida corn for soup that is dried, as well as corn soup with ham, turkey or plain.


Traditional wild rice and Corn soup


Lead the group in a round dance or a two-step depending on the age of the participants. Let the Drums sing the participants home.

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