Adam Canter, Botanist, Table Bluff Rancheria

Recently United Indian Health Service provided a conference for health care providers throughout the U.S. entitled, Hands on Health.  I finagled an invitation to attend what was the best, most interesting conference ever.  With all of the topics given a hands on focus, this mode of learning was right up my alley.

One presentation I truly enjoyed was a walk through some of the common areas of the Table Bluff Rancheria.  High atop a bluff in Loleta, it is stunning land — but on closer examination with the help of Botanist Adam Canter, I was able to see that the lush green fields were filled with mostly non-native species, many of which were noxious weeds!  Adam told us how they are working to restore native foods in that region – one of these foods was what is commonly referred to as Indian Potatoes.  These “potatoes” are actually several different species of bulbing plants, which are very tiny, and required many hours of baking to yield food.

I talked to Adam about how I recently began reading Tending the Wild: Native American Knowledge and the Management of California’s Natural Resources by M. Kat Anderson — it turns out that she is his mentor!  If you grew up with the myth that California Indian people lucked into a rich land of plenty and basically wandered around eating the lovely edibles that just happened to be there, get ready to have your paradigm shaken.   Kat does a wonderful job explaining much of the data that exists about how California Indians shaped this land and worked in concert with nature to bring about the world that white people entered.  Because Indian people have not had the opportunity to interact with the land in the same way in the past century, so much has changed.  There is so much to say about that — but M. Kat Anderson says it way better than I could — so I encourage you to read her book.

I also encourage you to listen to the interviews with Adam Canter, Part 1 and Part 2

This program was supported in part by the Northwest California Tribal Communities Extension Program, a USDA funded project through UC Cooperative Extension of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

 

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Meagen and Robert Baldy, Hupa, Deer Hunting

Meagen is amazing, (host of her own YouTube channel Cooking Healthy in Indian Country) so no surprise she and her husband raised an amazing son.  Robert Baldy learned from his father about deer hunting.  Not just things like how to find deer and how to kill them swiftly so that you will have food for your family, but also to respect the life of the animal, to butcher it well and respectfully so that the good food isn’t wasted.  Now that Robert has learned these things, he has begun to share them with younger boys.

Listen Here

This program was supported in part by the Northwest California Tribal Communities Extension Program, a USDA funded project through UC Cooperative Extension of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

Lena Hurd, Acorns, Traditional Food Harvesting and Basket Making

I met the beautiful and super vivacious Lena Hurd at the Big Time event at Humboldt State University this past spring.  Introduced to her by Jessica Eden, after 10 minutes of talking about wanting to include more stories of traditional foods into our Food for Thought show, we had an invitation to her home in Cave Junction, Oregon.

First of all — I don’t know what to say first of all.  She was so gracious and gave us a tour of her home which was loaded with beautiful baskets and regalia (which she and other friends and family members made).  The home itself was a piece of art, and was full of other art pieces created by both her son and her husband.  I’m telling you this family got into line 12 times for artistic talent!  I was in complete stimulation overload — I didn’t know where to look first.

Then! She took the time and graciously shared information with me about gathering acorns and making acorn mush, gathering various food plants and sea vegetables, and making baskets.  Baskets are so part of making food, from baskets to trap eels, burden and storage baskets to carry plant materials and acorns, and cooking baskets.  One of the things I learned was that baskets were made to be used — and baskets that are kept on museum shelves eventually become brittle and die.  They need to be handled and need the oils from our hands to keep them alive.

Of the many journeys I’ve taken over the years this was quite possibly the very best.  Practically in my own backyard (Oregon), such a rich and wonderful experience learning so much from Lena Hurd.

Acorns, Traditional Food Gathering

Part 1 Basket Weaving, Part 2 Basket Weaving

Basket Weaving coming soon!

This program was supported in part by the Northwest California Tribal Communities Extension Program, a USDA funded project through UC Cooperative Extension of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

LeeAnn Moore – Wiyot Food Traditions

You probably remember LeeAnn Moore from past interviews with her about her local business Oceanside Jams, and of course LeeAnn is also a Master Food Preserver with the University of California Cooperative Extension and was one of the founding mothers of the local chapter of that program — LeeAnn grew up in Humboldt and is a member of the Wiyot tribe.  

Living in Humboldt you can’t help but get a sense of the geographic region of the local Indian tribes — and I always think of Wiyot people as being from around Humboldt Bay, but actually the region is quite a larger than I originally thought.  south to the Bear River Ridge, east to Chalk Mountain, then north to Berry Ridge and all the way up to Little River.  Of course this is an incredibly bio-diverse region — and I was interested in learning more about the traditional foods that LeeAnn grew up with.  Listen Here.

 

This program was supported in part by the Northwest California Tribal Communities Extension Program, a USDA funded project through UC Cooperative Extension of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

Bruce Kaye, Navajo and Hopi Foods, Frybread, Piki, and more

I have known Bruce Kaye for well over 25 years, we first met when we worked together for the county.  Even when I left my job at the county in 1996, Bruce and I stayed in touch having lunch together almost monthly.
We’ve talked about lots of different things over the years — but I had always been interested in what types of food he had when he was growing up in Arizona.
The first thing we started talking about was Indian Frybread (AKA Navajo Frybread) which started with his Navajo ancestors when the U.S. army moved the Navajo people off their ancestral land, completely out of the state of Arizona, to Fort Bosque Redondo in New Mexico.  Taken away from all of their traditional foods and the places they farmed and raised animals, the Navajo people were forced to survive on army rations.  One of the rations was wheat flour, and Navajo people soon learned how to make something delicious and filling out of this and other things that were part of their rations.  This food has now become ubiquitous in Indian Country all over the U.S. and is served at almost every pow-wow, Big Time, and other events.
There are growing concerns about frybread and fried anything in Indian Country. Indian people suffer from diabetes and other health issues related to poor diets at a greater rate than the rest of the population of the U.S.  We didn’t talk about those things, but I do think it is important to include that thought here.
We soon moved on to talk about the importance of corn, eating things like Piki bread and Kneel Down bread, eating mutton from the sheep raised at the home of his grandparents, and more!  There was so much to talk about there are actually two interviews — Part 1 and Part 2.
This program was supported in part by the Northwest California Tribal Communities Extension Program, a USDA funded project through UC Cooperative Extension of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties.

Lauren Sarabia, Jewish food traditions and kosher food law

My first confusions (and there are many) about kosher food law came from my Jewish aunt — overhearing talk about volunteering at the Jewish Community Center and keeping the dairy and meat flat wear separate.  Huh?!  That part of my family lives far away, and her family doesn’t keep kosher (they refer to ham as “rare roast beef”) but I have often wished they lived closer so I could ask my many food questions — luckily Lauren Sarabia from Temple Beth El stepped in for an interview — we talked about some of my favorite Jewish foods, many of which originated in Eastern Europe — but also about how Jews have traveled throughout the world changing our idea of what “traditional” Jewish food is.

Find out more about Temple Beth El in Eureka.

Listen to the interview here.