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Minnesota Native News

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Minnesota Native News is a weekly radio segment covering ideas and events relevant to Minnesota’s Native American communities. Made possible by the Minnesota Art's and Cultural Heritage fund


Food For Thought- Bringing Back Indigenous Foods

Title: Food For Thought- Bringing Back Indigenous Foods 

Marie Rock:
The movement to rebuild Indigenous Food Sovereignty is getting help from many sources. I’m Marie Rock. This week on Minnesota Native News, reporter Emma Needham shares a story on  writers and community partnerships working to bring back Native food practices in Minnesota.

Emma Needham: Anishinaabe writer Tashia Hart grew up on the Red Lake Reservation in Northern MN. She’s authored children’s books and novellas, as well as written poetry. However, her newest release is a new genre for her. Tashia Hart’s The Good Berry Cookbook, comes out this week. Tashia shared with me how she got the idea for her cookbook. 

Tashia Hart:
During one of my prayer sessions that I had received the direction that I should learn more about Manoomin, I've always grown up cooking and eating Manoomin. You know, when helping to like, winnow [prep] Manoomin, but I had never practiced Manoominike.[Harvesting Wild Rice] 

Emma Needham: Tashia explains that at first she didn’t realize how much traditional knowledge she had. Like many native people, the unique skills she was taught growing up were a means for survival of culture and sustenance. 

Tashia Hart: ...most of the world doesn't look at things and talk about things and think about things, you know, like our plant relatives, like we do as Anishinaabes. And so I realized that, I was introduced to this term foraging in college, but before that I just grew up, you know, with people harvesting and everything, and we didn't call it that. 

Emma Needham: The Good Berry Cookbook: Harvesting and Cooking Wild Rice and Other Wild Foods is organized by season.  

Tashia Hart:
So within the seasons are common Minnesota Wild foods. So for instance, in Ziigwan [Spring], there's, you know, some sprouts, like leeks and fiddleheads. And maple sugar and stuff like that. And in summer, we have more of like the fruit, you know, wild berries. In the fall, there's Manoomin, of course, and hazelnuts... and see, we got rose hips, and squashes and then winter, I think I focus more on fish, and squashes and things like that, that can be stored and then utilized in the winter months. 

Emma Needham : In celebration of "The Good Berry Cookbook," several native community organizations in the Twin Cities came together to not only offer a book signing with the author, but also a Cooking Demo featuring recipes from the book. Leading the demonstration is Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe member Derek Nicholas. Derek’s current position is Nutrition Program Coordinator at the Division of Indian Work. 

Derek Nicholas :I kind of label myself as a kitchen warrior but some people call me a chef... Each year, I just my passion grew more and more learning language and learning how the spirits of the food and the spirits of language are closely tied and then ended up writing an indigenous themed cookbook called "Eating with the Seasons: Anishinaabeg Great Lakes Region," which incorporates Anishinaabemowin Language and cultural lessons. 

Emma Needham: Derek offers an e-book of his cookbook for free online because he wants it to be as accessible as possible. He explains his work is not solely about cooking with Indigenous foods, but also the preservation of indigenous culture.

Derek Nicholas: I guess the main thing that drives my work is the ideology of food sovereignty. I believe it's very important to provide healthy and culturally appropriate meals for everybody,  and then also do it in a sustainable way. And that really drives my passion and my work around working with traditional foods, native foods.

Even if you've never had the food before, you may recognize the food because our ancestors have experienced that food in our historical DNA. We have to work with these foods, and eat these foods because they nourish us better than any other foods can.

Emma Needham: The Good Berry Cook Book Release and Cooking Demo is a collaboration between the Native American Community Development Institute, the Indigenous Food Network, The Four Sisters Farmer’s Market, Division of Indian Work and Dream of Wild Health. 

Author Tashia Hart says it’s an important collaboration. 

Tashia Hart: ...we're just seeing people connect in such powerful and meaningful ways, it’s a beautiful thing...Happy to be a small part.

Emma Needham: You can order a copy of Tashia Hart’s "The Good Berry Cookbook"  at most book sellers, or at her website, tashia hart dot com. If you’re interested in Derek Nicholas’ "Eating with the Seasons," you can order a paperback copy of the book or download the free e-book at blurb dot com. For Minnesota Native News, I’m Emma Needham. 

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