Many Native American harvest festivals center around corn.
Many Native American harvest festivals center around corn.

Native American harvest festivals traditionally take place in the late summer or fall. They are a time to offer thanks to the food gods for a successful growing season and for the sustenance to get through the winter. These ceremonies are a vital part of the Native American culture and are often filled with singing, dancing, rituals, and prayer.

Green Corn Festival

The Green Corn Festival is celebrated by the Creek, Cherokee, Seminole, Yuchi, and Iroquois tribes during the first full moon after the corn crops have matured. This celebration of thanksgiving does not have a set date. The date is decided by the corn as it grows, but normally occurs in July or August. The term "Green Corn" refers to ripe, edible corn. The Native Americans who celebrate the Green Corn Festival are traditionally Woodland tribes, as these are the tribes who depended of corn for survival.

Great New Moon Ceremony

The Cherokee celebrate the first October new moon with feasts to celebrate the harvest. Cherokee tradition holds that the world was created during the autumn, so this is an important celebration. Families bring part of their harvest to share, and dances and purification rituals are held during the celebration. The Great New Moon Ceremony is a time of thanksgiving.

Iroquois Harvest Festival

The Iroquois traditionally hold a harvest festival in October. It's organized by the tribe's women. Dances and songs are performed to the food spirits and a sweet corn soup is shared. A speaker discusses the good luck of the concluded growing season, and prayers of thanksgiving are said. The Iroquois calendar is passed from the women to the men at this time, because the next ceremony involves hunting, a traditionally male activity.