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Category Archives: Native American Food

April is for Pow Wow’s

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Top: Grand Entry, Middle and Bottom rows, some of our friends, dancers and drums.

 

For the past twenty years or so, this time of the year has always meant that every weekend would be spent at a Pow Wow, somewhere.

For those of you not familiar with the word, a Pow Wow, is a cultural celebration put on by Native Americans all across America.

The best place to find one,  is in your local newspaper, or online, under any of the myriad of Pow Wow listings.

Some of the finest ones that we have been to and taken part in over the years, were at Colleges all across the country from Maine to Minnesota and from California to Florida,  they are a joy to be involved in and to witness.

Most of these Native Cultural Events run from Friday thorough Sunday Evening.

The sights, sounds and smells found at a Pow Wow, are a delicious, delightful feast for the eyes, ears, and nose.

The Pow Wow incorporates much of the rich tradition and culture of the Host tribes and those who come to see it leave enriched.

Each day usually begins with a series of Native Pow Wow Customs, or Events.

First,  the head spiritual leader will begin by removing any trash or litter around or near the circle, or close proximity, then he or she, will smudge the area, while working with the fire keeper.

When this has all been finished,  the Head Veteran will begin assembling the dancers, flag bearers and others who will be coming into the circle, on the East side,  for what is called the ” Grand Entry.”

The spiritual leader will now bring the group into the circle.

Once all are assembled in the circle, the Veterans song is drummed, followed by the Flag song and lastly by a prayer.

The drum group which has been chosen for the entire weekend event, then drums for the dancers who represent many Tribes and Nations, who will follow the Veterans around in the circle and out the East side.

When this dance is finished, the Pow Wow is officially opened and the celebrations may begin.

Often, there will be Special Invited Entertainers, such as singers, flute players or dance groups, who may perform during the day with the other traditional dances occurring in between.

The day will be filled with a wide variety of dances, beginning with the Flag song, then many others will follow like,  ” the Jingle dance,”  which is a specific type of dancer’s regalia/clothing, with tiny jingles sewn on the fabric, that makes a delightful sound as the dancer moves around, and  both men’s and women’s ” Traditional dances,”  ” the Round dance,”  ” the Inter-tribals,”  then later in the evening,  many times there will be a special dance which is called the  “ Friendship dance, ”  which invites all those still in attendance into the circle to say hello to each other, or a Native ” meet and greet. ”

Some very tasty Native foods are usually on hand at each Pow Wow, from the very delicious Indian Tacos, or the ” Three Sisters ” of corn, beans and squash, to special local or regional items from an individual Tribe or Nation’s own menu.

There are of course, many vendors selling their own hand-made crafts, of leather, wood, clay, fabrics, metals and stone to share their own particular Tribal culture with you.

Often at the end of the weekend a blanket dance is done to collect money for the drum group,  who might not receive a great deal of money otherwise,  to help with their travel expenses.

After all of the goods have been sold, the dance prizes awarded and the last songs drummed, comes the closing ceremony which is a beautiful, somewhat bittersweet end to a wonderful joyful weekend for all who came.

If you have the time and the chance, I highly recommend you find a Pow Wow in your area and go have a cultural experience you are not likely to soon forget.

But, be forewarned, like the beginning of Spring and the awakening it brings to the world, your first Pow Wow may bring an awakening to your soul, and you will find yourself looking for them everywhere in the future~

 

 

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Native American Food

cornvarieties   Beans   squash

                     Corn                                                 Beans                                            Squash

(Beans from Veg Kitchen, Squash from California Condor)

For many Indigenous People in the Americas, this triad is called the Three Sisters:

Corn, or Maize, Beans and Squash.

Although this food trinity has a variety of names among Native People, these three staples remain the heart of

most Indigenous diets.

An interesting fact about this Food Trio is that they are all interdependent on one another.

Beans grow up the Corn stalks and add the nutrients (Nitrogen) to the soil that the others need to grow.

Squash is planted in between them to keep weeds out.

All three of these foods originally came from the Indigenous People of Mexico, Central and South America,

then slowly made their way North to our Native People.

A press release announcing recent winners from the Kellogg Foundation:

First Nations Awards $375,000 to 10 Native Food-System Projects

A new page about what makes us who we are:

Native Health Issues

A Brief History of American Native Food

American Natives were reasonably healthy before the European Invasions.

They lived on the land and in some areas cultivated rich soils and grew crops.

For the Bison hunting Nations that were always on the move, their diets were mixtures of the meat that they

hunted and the plants, berries and fruits that were found everywhere that they went.

This country was a bountiful place hundreds of years ago and Native people survived quite nicely.

After the Invasions, everything changed and none of it was good for Natives.

Those who were sent to Reservations starved many times.

Food meant for them often ended up in the hands of unscrupulous agents, who dispersed the supplies to

themselves, their families and friends.

Or just outright sold it for profit.

The Native people in the East were the first to be affected by the European outsiders and their gluttony.

The vast natural and developed Native food supplies were quickly devoured by the new people.

Although saved from starvation by the generosity of Natives, these greedy ones were convinced that this

wondrous new land was theirs to take and use as they pleased, calling it their Manifest Destiny.

When the food supplies in the East began running out, the invaders started moving West.

All across the country, the long Wagon Trains of Pioneers wiped out the natural food sources along the way.

Like Locust, they decimated everything in their path.

As for farming among Native Nations, it became quite difficult to grow or hunt just ahead of oncoming settlers or

an Army.

In the Great Plains, the Natives who refused to go to Reservations were a little better off, for a while.

But, once the Railroads were in place and Buffalo Bill Cody and others killed off nearly the entire Bison

population, there was little food left for the Plains People.

Until the land and Gold Rushes of the 1800’s, most Native People in the far West and Northwest still had adequate natural food sources.

*A personal note*

My People, the Shawnee, were considered very good farmers.

When they arrived at the Reservation in Kansas, the Governor remarked that the Shawnee were the best

farmers that he had ever seen.

What he didn’t know was that before they were shipped off to Kansas, the Shawnee from the Ohio Valley area

had learned many techniques from the local Amish farmers who admired them and even hid many of them after

the great Shawnee leader Tecumseh was killed.

 American Native Food Today

Today, American Natives need only travel to their nearest grocery store to find an abundance of food.

Many Natives do still grow some of their own food, raising geographically relevant crops that help to

sustain their people through the hard times.

Corn, beans and squash are still grown by many Nations, however, very few Native people are successful

commercial farmers as they lack the investment capital to get started.

**Your responses to this statement are quite encouraging,

but please do contact the Tribal Nations directly if you

are interested in investing in Native Farming**

Tribal Nations Home Pages

Southwestern Nations, like the Navajo and Hopis use the Ancient irrigation methods of their

Ancestors to grow a colorful collection of corn.

These Natives harvest cactus, plant vegetables and chilies and raise sheep which are rarely eaten, but provide

the abundance of wool used for their beautiful woven rugs.

Historically, California Natives were unlike most others, they did not grow much of anything to eat, they didn’t

have to, it was already there, all they had to do was take it.

The insulting title of “diggers” was given to these Natives, by outsiders who observed them frequently digging

in the dirt.

The state was rich in nutritious wild roots, bulbs and insects and thousands of California Natives lived very well

on the multitude of fruits, Wild Game, Nuts, Roots and Berries.

Today, with little good land left to raise crops, many Tribes have built Casinos instead to help support their

People.

Several Southern Nations like the Seminoles of Florida, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaws, have Casinos,

raise Cattle and grow a variety of food crops.

Some Tribes in Minnesota harvest wild rice and other related food products both to share with their own people

and also to sell.

Natives in Northern Plains States, like North and South Dakota, Idaho and Montana are raising cattle, while

trying to forge a new future for their children by tapping into the Renewable Energy market with Wind Turbines

and Solar Power.

The Northwest Nations of Washington and Oregon raise Salmon and grow Berries and Grapes and also have

geothermal potential.

Corn, Maple Syrup and wonderful varieties of Apples, Pears, Grapes, Berries, including an abundance of

Cranberries in Massachusetts.

Many Tribes also grow tobacco and cotton, but as they are not food, they were not counted among the Native

Nations crops.

Native Owned Food Businesses

If you are an American Native or Nation with a food business,

please send me your information to be listed on this page:

tahtonka at centurylink.net

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of South Dakota.

Lakota Foods

White Earth Reservation of Minnesota offers a variety of wild rice products, maple syrup, organic coffee, jams and jellies and many non food products.

Native Harvest Foods

The Skeet Family of Gallup, New Mexico sell Native American Traditional Foods.

Navajo Designs

The Ojibwa people of Red Lake Minnesota who not only grow wild rice, but now ship it all over the world.

Red Lake Nation Foods

Disclaimer * tahtonka.com has no personal knowledge nor connection to any of these businesses.*

American Native Food Web Sites:

A Pyramid of American Native foods.

An American Native Food Guide Pyramid

How the Plains People provided food for themselves.

The Luxton Museum of the Plains People

Indian Health Services

Native American Resources: Food and Nutrition

American Native Recipes

American Native Recipes

Cherokees of California Cookbook

The Cooking Post

Cookin’ with Three Sisters

Eastern North Carolina Native Cooking

Native Recipes from Paula Geise

Native Web Resources: Food

Navajo and Pueblo Native Fry Bread

Pemmican: Recipes, Stories and Stores

Recipe Source: American Native Recipes

 

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