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Native American Cuisine and Culinary Culture

An in-depth examination
by

Nephi Craig

on 28 October 2015

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Transcript of Native American Cuisine and Culinary Culture

Native American Cuisine and Culinary Culture
Domestication of Indigenous American Foods
CONTACT: Clash of Cultures
Culinary Contributions to the Old World
Pre-contact Indigenous Culinary Culture had been intact and
thriving for thousands of years. First Peoples in the Americas
were expert fishers, hunters and farmers.
Exchange of Culinary Technology
"Manifest Destiny" and the Indian Wars
Reservation Era
Post-Indian Wars: Cultural Depression
Commodity Foods
Professional Native Chefs
The Native Food Movement
Non-Native Foods like white sugar, bleached flour,
alcohol, rice and lard have had a lasting ill-effect
on Native peoples that can still be seen today in
in the form of alcoholism, diabetes, obesity
and heart disease.
Military Food Rations were issued regardless
of culinary traditions, region and tribe. They were cheap,
inexpensive and foreign to the biological make-up
and body chemistry of Native Peoples.
The Military Food Rations would soon become known
as Commodity Foods or "Commodz"...
A Return to
Indigenous
Agriculture
Forward-thinking,
food conscious tribal organizations emerge

Discovering a Native Trio
Native Peoples from different parts of North America have used a wide range of agricultural techniques. Perhaps the best known is the inter-planting of corn, beans and squash together—a trio often referred to as the
"Three Sisters"
.
Cultivating these companions in your garden, a small patch near the building, a barrel, or even indoors, can inspire studies of Native American customs, nutrition, and folklore. As you dig in, investigations of plant growth and relationships will also flourish.
In a three sisters planting, the three cultivars benefit from one another.
Corn

provides support for beans.
Beans
like other legumes, have bacteria living on their roots that help them absorb nitrogen from the air and convert it to a form that plants can use. Corn, which requires a lot of nitrogen to grow, benefits most. The large prickly
squash
leaves shade the soil, preventing weed growth, erosion and deter animal pests. The three sisters also compliment each other nutritionally.
It's hardly surprising that these crops—considered to many to be special gifts from the creator—played such an important role in the agriculture and nutrition of most of the Native People of the Americas. Because of the sisters' central role as
"sustainers of life,"
a host of stories, customs, celebrations and ceremonies are associated with them.
Corn also lacks two essential amino acids that are essential to create protein. Beans and Squash provide these two amino acids and complete the building blocks of protein, making the Three Sisters a complete nutritional food source.
"Three Sisters": Corn, Beans and Squash
This painting (circa 1872) by John Gast called American Progress, is an allegorical representation of the modernization of the new west. Here Columbia, a personification of the United States, leads civilization westward with American settlers, stringing telegraph wire as she sweeps west; she holds a school book. The different stages of economic activity of the pioneers are highlighted and, especially, the changing forms of transportation. Native Americans and animals flee in terror.
As a result of "Manifest Destiny" and the Indian Wars in America,
the culinary traditions, ceremonies associated with hunting, gathering and consuming food were interrupted all over Native America. The ensuing conflict or "clash of cultures" would introduce new technologies, foods, weapons and the concept of land ownership. This was the era of change because of Guns, Germs and Steel.
As the Indian Wars came to and end with various bands of Apaches,
The US Government created "Reservations" in an attempt to "civilize" and contain
"the Indian". This containment of Native American peoples limited the hunting,
gathering, fishing and other methods of procuring and preparing foods.
A Dramatic Change in Native Psychology and Culinary Traditions.
New Reservation boundries limited agriculture, foraging, hunting and fishing efforts.
The Military outlawed many cultural practices including ceremony.
"Jumping the Reservation" was often punishable by hanging.
Family patriarchs were stripped of thier roles as hunters, providers, etc; and made reliant
on food rations.
Many people turn to alcohol as a method of coping with
a new way of life to "mourn the old ways."
Boarding School Students are introduced to new foods,
table manners, and a non-Native perception of food.
Powerful Sensory Experiences with food remain. Children in Boarding Schools
write home and talk of disliking the new culture and foods. They write about
what they miss about home and their favorite NATIVE FOODS.
The Boarding School Era
"KILL THE INDIAN, SAVE THE MAN..."
Lieut Richard Henry Pratt, founder and superintendent of Carlisle Indian School, in military uniform, 1879.
Social Recovery Through Native Foods
PUBLIC HEALTH AND COMMUNITY WELLNESS
THROUGH NATIVE FOODS
Education and Training
Traditional Native American Cookery
Posterity
Tenacity
Industry
Community
Mentorship
Promoting the Evolution and Preservation of
Native American Cuisine
and Culinary Culture in the Americas
NACA
Tulalip Indian School
Cultural Preservation
Apache Youth Empowerment
Food/Gift Exchange
Spirituality
Full transcript