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What we eat -- where it comes from, how it is raised, processed, cooked -- affects our health in many ways. Traditional native diets in those few places in the world where people still mostly eat what they raise, hunt, gather, fish -- have been found to promote health and long life, for reasons only gradually coming to be understood.
It isn't practical to recommend now for most of us that we eat buffalo, harvest wild rice, farm corn in single hills, gather waupatoo or teepsinna. We'll see why those traditional foods are health-promoting as modern biological and medical sciences have belatedly learned. We'll see practical ways to improve health by food and diet -- starting when you are young to eat well to avoid health problems later. Cultural food stories and practical recipes are here too.
InfoSeek Select Site -- for this Traditional Foods section. It's always nice to be appreciated. I really put in a lot of work on this section -- the recipes take quite a while to type and index-link.
I have lots of fun with this food section. But I think it's appropriate to point out at the start of info for fun (good eating) and health that some Native people -- youth and elders especially -- are going to be affected to the point of malnutrition, hunger, and serious health problems due to the political direction the U.S. is taking. Here's a couple of brief statements from Native leaders about that. I hope you will take the time to read and think about them, if you are not Indian, but just interested in our culture or our foods and recipes. Indian people (U.S.) already know, and are worrying.
Another Broken Promise--Managing editor of Harvard University's faculty-student liberal news news magazine Perspectives explains in the December issue how these changes are going to result in malnutrition and health problems, especially affecting unborn infants, young children pregnant mothers, and old people. This is a good, clear summary of the situation as of early 1996.
Native spokes-people, organizations testify how funding cuts are going to literally create Native hunger and health problems. Oneida Nation spokesperson Ray Halbritter testifies clearly and concisely how Gaming Act changes will stop those tribes who do have successful casinos from filling in gaps with the only Native enterprise that has actually proven successful. The National Indian Education Association states how "food for the minds" of our Native youth will be reduced to starvation diet too. But kids who are litrerally physically hungry are not able to pay attention to their studies much anyway. That's why we try to have substantial hot lunch and if possible hot breakfast programs in our schools. To provide nutrition they otherwise don't get.
Blueberries -- Economics of commercial blueberries for Native people. Read above this sub-section and below it. Blueberries hardly show up till the end. This is mostly a story about typical hard times for reservation people. Think about this next time you are eating some bought in a store or restaurant..
Two Moons (Months) of Sacred Food: Maple Sugar and Wild Rice
--Wild Rice -- Mahnoomin, sacred seeds -- is still a staple of the diets of a few (mostly Anishnaabeg) people who live near the Great Lakes. Anishinaabemowin vocabulary-builder, for many of the processes of ricing. You should be able to read it even if uninterested in the language.
--Maple sugar-- Wendjidu Zinzibahkwud, Real Sugar -- was a staple of the diets of Anishinaabeg peoples, and probably all who lived where sugar maples (there are many species) grow. Some traditional sugaring is still done today. Anishinaabemowin vocabulary-builder.
-- WIISINIWAN -- RECIPES real ones you can use and traditional methods/processes that are cultural education you can't usually actually do. Native cookbooks; some cookbooks for kids.
Oneida Nation Native Foods Yum, nice looking pages, some fine recipes.
--SECRET NATIVE PLANT LORE RECIPES! (immortality, love, money, etc.)
NATIVE AND WILD PLANT EXPERTISE -- Traditional uses, Anishinaabeg vocabulary, ID pix, ethnobotany and other botannical research tools.
-- USDA NUTRIENTS SEARCHABLE DATABASE of 5000+ foods, tuned to pull nutrient analysis for some traditional Native foods. Been down for rehabilitation, the "broken" message is dated 3/22/96 and there's been no change since. It was such a useful database, too bad! Email m if anothr searchable big nutrient databas goes up. Meanwhile, there are a couple CDROM's (see below). And ... I think I'll post some luscious trad chocolate recipes while the food values database's down . . .
So it's a great time to pig out on chocolate. That's a definition of Mexican choc there, linked-to a mole recipe. Chocolate, which came from a bit further south, was one of our greatest indigenous contributions to civilization, world history and progress. Would you rather have a nuke on your doorstep, or a box of foil-wrapped cherry liquer dark choco bon-bons? If you say a nke, we'll all know you're employed by Northern States Power, and that they Do Things to their employees' heads.
RECOMMENDED BOOKS -- for heavy-duty researchers and for students.
Some Relevant Food Links
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Webmistress -- Paula Giese.Text and graphics copyright 1995.
CREDITS: The bear-spirit page logo was a black-and-white ink drawing given to Akwesasne Notes in 1974; it is a a drawing by Canadian Anishinaabe Norval Morrisseau. It depicts the Great Bear spirit bringing life and health to a person, and also the sky constellation Big Dipper (with artist's license to rearrange the stars somewhat). I scanned and colored it in 1993 from its only appearance in Notes. I drew the moon logo. The original was destroyed around 1978 by an arson-set fire to the Notes building.
Last Updated: 6/7/97