Experiencing food sovereignty at Taos Pueblo

'Red Willow Indigenous Foods Experience' happening Oct. 19-21


What is food sovereignty and why is it important to the community of Taos Pueblo?

These are the central questions at the heart of the upcoming "Red Willow Indigenous Foods Experience," happening Oct. 19-21. The event is hosted by Taos Pueblo's Red Willow Center.

The answer will come into focus through tours, listening and learning, as well as meals prepared by top-notch Native American chefs.

"We Natives were the first fishers, farmers, hunters and gatherers in North America, and many tribes are blessed to retain such a rich knowledge of prosperous, healthy food systems that existed well before Europeans arrived," said Red Willow Center Executive Director Addelina Lucero.

"Taos Pueblo has endured countless diet changes since European occupation and witnessed a steady decline in our traditional agriculture and its role in our daily lives, including diet, economic structure and traditional ways of knowing. Community members, policymakers, tribal government and tribal programs all play a critical role in expanding and sustaining our food system at Taos Pueblo," she said.

All people from Taos Pueblo and the greater Taos community are invited to join for the three-day event featuring Native chefs Brian Yazzie and Karlos Baca.

Yazzie hails from Navajo Nation and aspires to explore old and new delectable indigenous cuisine creations and to educate all populations on the health benefits and possibilities of an indigenous diet. Yazzie does cooking demonstrations utilizing healthy indigenous foods free of colonial ingredients, according to a press release from Red Willow Center.

Karlos Baca (Ute, Diné, Tewa) founded the Taste of Native Cuisine, an indigenous chefs collective, in 2011 to reintroduce and revitalize indigenous foodways through education, foraging and indigenous menu tastings.

The first day of "Red Willow Indigenous Foods Experience" will include a tour of Taos Pueblo followed by a locally sourced, traditional foods luncheon for Taos Day School children prepared by Yazzie and Baca. The first day will be at Taos Day School, 200 Rotten Tree Road, Taos Pueblo.

The second day includes a tour of Red Willow Farm, as well as a "Cooking with Community" event where chefs and the audience will have a discussion about food safety, systems, justice and sovereignty in indigenous communities, culminating in a free community meal. The second day will also be at Taos Day School.

The final day of the Native food sovereignty gathering will feature a local and wildcrafted foods-tasting luncheon prepared by chefs and culinary students. From 6-8 p.m., there will be a fundraising dinner at the Farmhouse Café (1405 Paseo del Pueblo Norte, Overland Compound, El Prado) to support farm-to-school programs and Red Willow's youth programs.

Roxanne Swentzell, acclaimed artist and author from Santa Clara Pueblo, is the evening's keynote speaker and will discuss her project, the Pueblo Food Experience.

The "Red Willow Indigenous Foods Experience" is facilitated by and supported through the Red Willow Center's farm projects in collaboration with the Taos Day School, Taos Pueblo Community Health Services and the Farmhouse Café.

Tickets are available through the Red Willow Center or the Farmhouse Café. For more information, call (575) 779-7020 or (575) 770-1362 - or email redwillowfarm15@gmail.com.