Native Foods: Native American Heritage Month

harvest foods with cornucopia Image by <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1789664">Jill Wellington</a> from <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1789664">Pixabay</a>

(image credit to Jill Wellington via Pixabay)

Let's talk about turkey and potatoes and wild rice and mushrooms and pumpkins. (I'm getting hungry over here!) The foods that are on the traditional Thanksgiving table are foods that are Indigenous to the Americas. While some Native people view Thanksgiving Day itself as a "National Day of Mourning", other Native people take the day to be with their families, honoring their elders, and eating foods that are Indigenous to their local areas. This is a reclamation of our traditional Harvest feasts and pre-winter ceremonies. Let's take a look at the foods that are Indigenous to the Americas!

A List of Meats: Turkey, Venison, Moose meat, Bison, Rabbit, Squirrel, Raccoon, Beaver, Turtle, various Freshwater and Salt water Fish, Clams, Shrimp, Lobster.

A List of Veggies: Corn, Beans, and Squash (these are known as "the Three Sisters" in some tribes), wild mushrooms, wild onions, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, yams, and pumpkins.

A List of Fruit: wild blueberries, chokecherries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries.

Other: Wild Rice, Sage, various herbs for cooking and seasoning, coffee, chocolate.

There are many cookbooks in our collection that feature recipes from Native people in North America. Add a traditional recipe to your feast in honor of the Native people of the area in which you reside.

.....And not a single Fry Bread recipe in sight! But why would I not include Fry Bread? While I love good Fry Bread as much as I love a good's not really an Indigenous food. Fry Bread came about due to commodity foods from the US government. Rationed cans full of flour, sugar, salt, and lard. Definitely not a part of our traditional diet, and (even though it tastes good drizzled with maple syrup or as an Indian taco) not very good for our overall health. There is a movement within the Native community to de-colonize our diets and return to more traditional foods: lean meats, fresh fruits and veggies. The American diet has led to poor nutrition and health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and liver diseases. A more traditional diet is better for our people in the long term.

Here in the Bay Area, Cafe Ohlone offers traditional foods from the Ohlone people. And Wahpepah's Kitchen just recently opened in Oakland. I encourage you to seek out recipes from the local area, add them to your home table, and to support local Native chefs!. Enjoy!

Blog Category
Adult Nonfiction
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion


Submitted by Anonymous on Sat, 12/04/2021 - 9:34 AM


Your Comment
Love this post. I learned something new. This year I learned about Fry Bread because of the new picture book. Now, I just learned that Fry Bread was created after the introduction of flour to Native Americans from the US government. That makes sense. When I first learned about Fry Bread, I was thinking that it was odd that all Native people ate this. I thought Native peoples were so diverse from such varied environments, "How could they all be eating the same thing?" I thought Native people would be living closer to their natural environments and relying more on native flora and fauna. Your post really helped me understand something about colonization. Thank you.

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