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Native American Garden

The Native American Garden is located on the south side of the Giovale Library. This garden is important to the Westminster campus because it demonstrates the beauty and the feasibility of converting lawn to low-water, native landscapes. It is a tool for learning about the traditional uses of these plants and the history of native people and our land. Additionally, the Native American Garden creates an urban habitat for wildlife, provides flexible learning space, and offers outdoor educational opportunities.

An important feature of the Native American garden is the Three Sisters planting demonstration. Native Americans planted corn, beans, and squash (collectively known as the Three Sisters) together, which allowed each of the plants to make use of the others. The beans grow up the corn stalks and fix nitrogen in the soil. The squash acts as a living mulch by preventing weeds, and retaining soil moisture. Grass has been removed from the lawn area to the south east of Giovale Library and an example of this Three Sisters growing method has been planted there. The three species planted are Papaiote Ranch Cushaw Squash (Cucurbita argyrosperma), Navajo Flour Corn (Zea mays) and Hopi Pinto Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). The Native Seed S.E.A.R.C.H. website ( is a great resource for purchasing seeds.  

The following plants are in the garden and listed below are some of the traditional ways Native Americans use them along with a description for identification.

Arrowroot: dietary supplement, aids digestion, helps heal wounds, relieves inflammation and irritation
The plant is an herbaceous perennial, with a creeping rhizome with upward-curving. Fleshy, cylindrical tubers covered with large, thin scales that leave rings of scars. The flowering stem reaches a height of 6 feet, and bears creamy flowers at the ends of the slender branches that terminate the long peduncles. They grow in pairs. The numerous flat, long, pointed, ovate, glabrous leaves are from 2 to 10 inches in length, with long sheaths often enveloping the stem and attached in a sheath-like fashion up and down the upright stems in typical canna or ginger-like fashion.

Mountain Mahogany: treats coughs, colds, pneumonia, diarrhea, earaches, red dye, bows, dice, source of fuel
Mountain mahogany is an attractive evergreen or deciduous shrub or tree with an open structure and branching pattern. Leaves are green above and often white or grayish underneath with in-rolled or toothed edges. Mountain mahogany has small fruit and a feathery, tail-like plume form in fall.

Utah Serviceberry: fresh and dry fruit source, bird food, foliage for big game, bows, drought tolerant. Usually reaches 16 feet in height. Has spade-shaped green leaves, which are interspersed with flowers that exhibit five spread-out petals. Distinctive due to its persistently hairy leaves and minimum number of stamens.

Sage: smudging, cleansing, healing, smoking, tea, antiseptic
The sage plant is a dense, upright bush about 2 to 3 feet in height. The stems are woody and square and the leaves are arranged oppositely on the stem.

Yucca: rope, herbal supplement, fruit source, treats arthritis and joint pain, soap, dye
This plant has sword like leaves with a sharp tip at the end. Twisting white stringy hairs on the side of the leaves come through to a flowering stalk that grows in the middle of the Yucca plant at certain times of the year. The flowers have drooping yellowish white petals.