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Although the Yuchi of today are cultivators of the soil, as they were in former times, the manner and method of agriculture has undergone many radical changes since the first contact with Europeans. The modification of this branch of their culture has been so thorough that we can only construct, from survivals and tradition, an idea of its former state.
The villages were surrounded by fertile spaces, cleared of timber and other vegetation by burning in dry springtime. These spaces were converted into garden patches where vegetables were sown and tended as they grew up, by a daily but irregularly-timed cultivation.
It is not now remembered whether particular parts of the arable ground were the personal property of the individuals or clans. Hawkins states, however, that both men and women labored together; the Yuchi differing in this respect from the Creeks. The old people and children found daily employment in acting as guardians over the growing crops, in driving away crows, blackbirds and other troublesome creatures.
In general, the land of the tribe belonged to whosoever occupied or utilized it. The boundaries of fields, plantations and real estate holdings, where encroachment was likely to occur, were marked by upright comer stones with distinguishing signs on them to indicate the claim. A man would simply adopt some optional design or figure as his brand and make this his property mark. Trees were also blazed to mark off property limits. In blazing, a piece of bark about as large as the hand was sliced off about five feet from the ground, leaving the white wood exposed. Sometimes the space was marked with pigment. The above devices are still in common use throughout the Creek Nation.
The most important native vegetables were flint corn, tsoteo’, beans, isodi’ , sweet potatoes, tosan’, melons, tcan, pumpkins and squashes. These are believed to have been given the Yuchi by the supernatural being, Sun. Tobacco, i’tci, was grown by each family near the house. This was believed to have originated from drops of semen. The plant was named by a boy, in mythical times, and distributed among the people for their use. When tobacco was smoked sumach leaves were added to it. Gourds were also raised, to be used as household receptacles.
When the crops of corn and other vegetables were taken in they were stored away in outhouses and cribs, dadá, raised on posts, to be used when wanted.
Before the harvest could be devoted to general use, however, it was thought necessary to perform certain ceremonies of personal purification and propitiation in behalf of the supernatural beings who gave the crops and who brought them to maturity. Taking into account the number and importance of such rites together with the amount of daily time and labor that was devoted to the cultivation of the crops, we are led into the general classification of the Yuchi as an agricultural type of people.
- The Feather Dance (Yuchi Corn Dance)