I Bank - Daycia Inc.
East Highway 18 | Pine Ridge, SD 57770 | 605-791-1208

Monday - Friday : 10:00 am - 5:00 pm | Saturday & Sunday : Closed

Traditional Foods - Pumpkin

Pumpkins are very versatile in their uses for cooking. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy shell, the seeds, the leaves, and even the flowers.

Pumpkins have been used as folk medicine by Native Americans to treat intestinal worms and urinary ailments, and this Native American remedy was adopted by American doctors in the early nineteenth century as an anthelmintic for the expulsion of worms. In Germany and southeastern Europe, seeds of C. pepo were also used as folk remedies to treat irritable bladder and benign prostatic hyperplasia. In China, C. moschata seeds were also used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of the parasitic disease schistosomiasis and for the expulsion of tape worms. Chinese studies have found that a combination of pumpkin seed and areca nut extracts was effective in the expulsion of Taenia spp. tapeworms in over 89% of cases.

Canned pumpkin is often recommended by veterinarians as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats that are experiencing certain digestive ailments such as constipation, diarrhea, or hairballs. The high fiber content helps to aid proper digestion.

Raw pumpkin can be fed to poultry, as a supplement to regular feed, during the winter to help maintain egg production, which usually drops off during the cold months.

This recipe, using the pie-making pumpkin, comes from the time before the Lakȟóta people separated from the Dakȟóta people, leaving the lakes, rivers, and marshes for the prairies and plains. And so, the psíŋ or Siouan sacred manna used here is the mní psíŋ kalá (scattered psíŋ on the water), the wild rice (Zizania aquatica) that reminds us of our creation origin story. Grandma Winnie Redshirt, Išnála Wiŋ (Lone Woman) made this recipe at Thanksgiving time. She had learned to make the recipe using the old traditional ingredients gathered in the wild from Dakȟóta friends in Minnesota. This recipe was her adaptation over time, incorporating store bought ingredients and using what she gathered around Porcupine, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and what she harvested from her own garden. This type of recipe is also found among the Missouri River Sioux, those relatives that are known as Nakȟóta and Nakȟóda, the Yankton and Yanktonnai, and the Hidatsa, Mandan, and Assiniboine Peoples, who have always had an agricultural tradition.

Lakȟóta Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin a.k.a. Wagmú Skúye Opúgituŋ


  • 1 five pound (basketball size) pumpkin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground mustard seed
  • 2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat (the bacon will be crumbled and used)
  • 1 pound shredded or ground buffalo meat (venison, beef, pork, etc.)
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 1 bunch green onions, diced
  • 4 bell peppers (assorted colors), diced
  • fresh or powdered prairie turnips, if available
  • 1 cup wild rice
  • 1 cup white rice
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried sage
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
  • whole fresh cranberries (*optional)
  • corn, beans, & squash (the Three Sisters)(*optional)


Cut the top from the pumpkin, removing the seeds and strings. Prick the inside of the pumpkin with a fork all over the cavity. Rub the cavity of the pumpkin with a teaspoon of salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of ground mustard seed.

In a large skillet, fry enough bacon to make 2 tablespoons of rendered bacon fat. Remove the bacon and sauté the meat with the onions and peppers over medium heat. Remove the skillet from heat when the meat is browned.

Steam the white rice and the wild rice, and then set aside to cool. When the ingredients have cooled, mix the rice into the meat mixture. Add the crumbled bacon at this point. Beat the eggs and stir them into the meat and rice mixture. Season with the salt, black pepper, and sage. If available, add diced fresh or powdered prairie turnips for added traditional Lakȟóta flavor, cranberries too. Stuff the cavity of the pumpkin. Replace the top on the pumpkin.

Place the stuffed pumpkin in a baking pan with 1⁄2 inch of water. Bake in the oven for 1 1⁄2 hours at 350 degrees or until the pumpkin is tender. Add more water to the baking pan as necessary to prevent the pumpkin from sticking or drying out.

The Lakȟóta Stuffed Sugar Pumpkin may be served whole and the contents scooped out at the table, or it may be sliced as you would a pie or cake, serving individual slices on plates. The stuffing and the flesh of the pumpkin are eaten, but not the rind. This stuffing may also be used to stuff smaller pumpkins and squashes, tomatoes, or bell peppers. Of course, you will need to adjust the cooking time. You may also use this recipe to make a casserole. Simply spread out a layer of mashed pumpkin in a greased baking dish, and then top with the stuffing mixture. One hour in the oven will be sufficient in this case.

There is another way that the stuffed sugar pumpkin is prepared, and this is known as the three sisters pumpkin. In this case, the three sisters (corn, beans, and squash) are combined with the other ingredients listed above. This is a recipe, in many versions, which may be found all over North America, among many Native Peoples, wherever pumpkins were traditionally grown. If pumpkins are not available, or even if they are, this recipe may be prepared with all the ingredients, or your favorite combination, as a casserole and baked in the oven as a side dish with a turkey, goose or ham. It is especially good with gravy or with cranberry sauce.

Source: "Lakota and Kiowa Recipes" http://uufeaston.org/download/Sermons/Sermons%20-%20by%20Others/Lakota%20Sprituality%20-%20John%20Moore/Lakota%20and%20Kiowa%20Recipes.pdf