For the Oneida people, yukwanénste has two meanings: our corn and our precious. Corn has walked alongside the Oneida and other Haudenosaunee people since creation, playing an integral role in their daily and ceremonial lives throughout their often turbulent history. The relationship between corn and the Oneida has changed over time, but the spirit of this important resource has remained by their side, helping them heal along the way. In Our Precious Corn: Yukwanénste, author Rebecca M. Webster (Kanyʌʔtake·lu), an Oneida woman and Indigenous corn grower, weaves together the words of explorers, military officers, and anthropologists, as well as historic and other contemporary Haudenosaunee people, to tell a story about their relationships with corn. Interviews with over fifty Oneida community members describe how the corn has made positive impacts on their lives, as well as hopeful visions for its future. As an added bonus, the book includes an appendix of different cooking and preparation methods for corn, including traditional and modern recipes.
Rebecca Webster knows corn. Her beautiful book, Our Precious Corn: Yukwanénste, is an insightful window into her community's relationship with corn as a relative, not as a commodity. Anyone who is interested in food sovereignty should read this book.
—Patty Loew, PhD member of the Mashkiiziibii–Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, journalism professor and inaugural director, Center for Native American and Indigenous Research, Northwestern University