The Surprising Discovery that Brought an Extinct Squash Back to Life
The Gete-okosomin squash is 3 feet long a brilliant shade of orange and, oh yeah, totally extinct. Or at least it was. The Gete-okosomin came back from the dead when archaeologists in Green Bay, Wisconsin unearthed a clay ball full of seeds in 2008. Carbon-dated 850-years-old, this ball of seeds was the key to bringing back a crop lost to our civilization. Now that the archaeologists have distributed these seeds to both students and Native American farmers, the squash is making a comeback.
When a group of students in Winnipeg received the squash seeds, they set to work planting. With the plant fully grown, the students held a feast and educated their community on the plant's history. Back in Wisconsin, the seeds made their way to the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe reservation. There, Winona LaDuke, an advocate for native foods, named the squash Gete-okosomin. The name is the Anishinaabe term for " cool old squash," because really what else could you name it?
But why was this really cool old squash lost in the first place? You don't need to go eight centuries back to find out. In the 1800s, when the United States government was taking over Native American lands, it didn’t just forcibly remove people, it also destroyed their food supplies to quell resistance.
Now, however, seeds from the Gete-okosomin have been given to the American Indian Center, and featured in the AIC's Giving Thanks Feast and Powwow. So this gargantuan squash is back where it belongs, on tables and in bellies.