Traditional ‘Three Sisters’ celebration set for March 17-19 virtual presentation

It’s March and time for the annual Three Sisters Celebration!

Although we cannot meet in person due to COVID-19, the Virtual Three Sisters Celebration is set for March 17-19. This virtual event will be broadcast on the Chickasaw Cultural Center’s Facebook page beginning at 10 a.m. each day (

“The Chickasaw people refer to corn, beans and squash as the ‘three sisters’,” Chickasaw Nation director of Cultural Resources Eddie Postoak said. “As an ancient method of gardening, the three sisters uses an intercropping system to grow corn, beans and squash simultaneously. It provides long-term soil fertility and healthy crops of food. This annual event observes the changing of the seasons and planting of essential crops like the three sisters.”

Corn, beans and squash have provided nutrition for the Chickasaw people for generations. These three sisters grow together and support each other as they thrive.

Traditionally, the vegetables were planted together in early spring or early summer. In gardens, small mounds were built two feet apart at the base and four feet apart at the top. In the center of each, several corn kernels were planted in a small circle. After the corn had grown about a hand high, pole beans were planted in another circle in the mound, about six inches outside the corn. A week later, squash seeds were planted around the outer edge of the mound. The beans grew up the cornstalks, which were strong enough to hold the weight. The squash grew out and covered the ground, keeping out the weeds and keeping in the moisture. These plants provided for each other, just as they provided for Chickasaw families.

This year viewers from around the world are able to tune in from the convenience and safety of home to enjoy this virtual event. Simply log on to the Chickasaw Cultural Center’s Facebook page at that time. If you miss a session, you will be able to watch it on demand at a later time.

Each day will consist of videos focusing on the important elements of our Chickasaw history, language, culture and traditions. From planting methods, to storytelling, to our language and cultural demonstrations, there is something for everyone to enjoy!

We celebrate this important time in our people’s lives as it represents rebirth and renewal as we plant our spring crops. We hope you can join us for this exciting virtual event.

Below is a recipe for Three Sisters Stew you can make at home.

Contributed by Michelle Cooke


2 cups onions, diced
6 cups water
2 cans diced tomatoes, no salt added (14.5-oz. can)
6 cups red skinned potatoes, cubed
1 can tomato sauce, no salt added (15-oz. can)
1 cup corn, frozen
1 cup yellow squash, diced
1 can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed (15.5-oz. can)
1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed (15.5-oz. can)
½ can quick cooking barley
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ teaspoon black pepper

In a large stockpot, add all ingredients. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes until the potatoes are soft. Serve immediately.