Conservation at Work

Choctaw Tribe Keeps Hominy Tradition Alive & Profitable

Hominy is a traditional food for Native Americans during the winter. To help restore this tradition, NRCS provided the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, comprised of about 10,000 members across the region, with conservation technical assistance, helping them transform idle land into a hominy-making enterprise.

Making hominy starts in the fields, when the corn is left to dry for 120 days. Then, the corn is harvested and kernels are removed from cobs. The kernels are stored in a cool location and left to dry for an additional three months. This step is important because it kills the seed germ inside.

Next, the work begins. The Choctaw pound the corn, using a wooden mortise called a kiti. The smashed kernels are sifted and cleaned, resulting in the final product—powdered corn that is used for cornmeal

The whole hominy experience, from soil to spoon, gives the tribe’s members a chance to rekindle the agricultural traditions of their ancestors. Keeping those traditions alive is a major emphasis of NRCS’ work with Native Americans, says Tim Oakes, the agency’s tribal liaison to the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Photo: Justin Fritscher

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