An Ancient Bond with the Land
People of the Longhouse
Changing Human-Plant Relationships
Corn (maize) was the staple agricultural plant of both North and South America. It was domesticated in Mexico from a grass that produced only a few kernels. In the Tehuacán Valley of the Mexican central highlands, small cobs of 7,000-year-old corn are evidence of a long, slow process of domestication begun much earlier.
Corn became the foundation upon which the great civilizations of Mesoamerica and South America flourished. It was gradually adapted to cooler climates, and reached the lower Great Lakes region about 1,500 years ago. Before the introduction of corn, Aboriginal people had already used plants such as the sunflower for thousands of years in eastern North America.