Food Sovereignty Project (Fall 2017)
Sponsored by the Native Women's Collective
Special thanks to Lonyx Landry, Eldon Kinney, Boyd Ferris, Troy Fletcher & INRSEP.
For this assignment students selected an Indigenous food website. They explored the site and learned about the featured project, the goals, the outcomes and the importance of Food Sovereignty movements. They also selected an Indigenous food based dish to prepare for the class. We held an "Indigenous Food Sovereignty" day where students presented on their Indigenous food projects, shared what they learned, and brought in their prepared Indigenous foods for tasting. Students picked several different recipes to prepare including:
Traditional Salmon Recipe
We owe a debt of gratitude to Lonyx Landry and the INRSEP House at Humboldt State University for assisting students to complete their project. Two groups decided to cook their recipes at the INRSEP house. One of the groups planned to cook a traditional salmon recipe from Northwest California which requires an open fire. The project also required help from local area community members like Boyd Ferris (who caught and donated the fish) and Troy Fletcher (who made the sticks). Eldon Kinney assisted the group to prepare and cook the fish at the INRSEP house. Students reflected on how this project helped them to understand the connection between food and natural resource management, but also helped to build a greater sense of community.
Every task in preparing the salmon was done with purpose and respect. The salmon fillets were gingerly put on the pre-soaked wood stakes and then carefully put into the ground. I loved that we said a short blessing and gave the fire pit an offering infused with our intentions and prayers. I didn’t realize at the time how deeply the preparing of the food, touched me.
We sprinkled angelica root on the flames just before cooking the fish, as a thank you to the Creator, to the salmon, and to the other neighboring spirits that sustain our local community. In such ways, Hupa, Yurok, and Karuk people, like many Indigenous American peoples, give back to the physical and spiritual environment from which they harvest. I'm grateful to learn respect for salmon and learn about local spirits from these men.
This project was designed as a tangible way for students to understand Indigenous knowledge and the many ways Indigenous peoples have and continue to interact with the environment. We worked to bring discussions of "natural resource management" beyond the theoretical and instead show how sustainable practices can be a part of every day life.
Learning about the different Native tribes and their food practices has vastly deepened my respect of them. Thank you for having us do this project and making the food sovereignty day fun but also really informative.
Students were also able to see the interrelated nature of the environment, resources, and their personal connections to things like the food they eat.
Working with our ingredients was truly a wholesome experience. It was everything cooking should be: Collaborative, hands on, not rushed, methodical, aromatic and aesthetically pleasing.
This project, and the entirety of the meal, honestly left my body feeling better than it had in a long time. It gave me a new sense of what my diet should be-- one of respect, slower foods, and integrity.
The reason that the soup tasted so good was probably because the group that made it played and sang the song as they made it! The vegetables felt loved!
This project asked students to interact with their environment, to start to think about their place in this world and to show how knowledge which is often talked about as "old" or "in the past" is actually very important to our sustainable futures.
Remembering to take care of our plant relatives is not only good for the rest of the flora and fauna they are connected to, but is also good for our bodies and minds, as we too are part of the ecosystem.
As a chef, I plan on incorporating more indigenous and healthy foods in my menus for future catering events. This event was so inspiring, not only in the way to eat healthy, but also how to be proud of who we are and where we come from.
Also a deep gratitude to you Dr. Cutcha Risling Baldy, for teaching about what indigenous food community is really about, students are made more aware of how our work can be a catalyst for community building and health of the whole.
Websites & Resources Featured in this Project
The American Indian Health and Diet Project: http://www.aihd.ku.edu/index.html
Red Lake Nation Foods Inc.
California Indian Food & Culture
Decolonial Food for Thought
Readings that students completed for this project included chapters from Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future edited by Melissa K. Nelson.