Growing a Three Sisters garden is a wonderful way to feel more connected to the history of this land, regardless of our ancestry.
Here is how it works:
Corn, the oldest sister, provides support. Beans are the nurturing sister. Beans take nitrogen from the air and 'fixes' it in the soil the plants are growing in. Squash (the traditional gourd grown was often pumpkin) provides protection. She keeps the soil moist and cools the soil mound the family grows in by acting as a living mulch, and her prickly vines and leaves keep pests away from the tender bean sprouts and corn. As these three sisters grow and intertwine together they create a strong barrier that is hard for the elements and pests to bring down, just like a supportive family structure.
Some native cultures would add a fourth sister, the sunflower plant. This sister supports the beans just as the corn does but she also lures birds away from the corn with her own large seed heads and she attracts even more insect pollinators.
Just for fun, give a three sisters garden a try!