Cuisine

Native Food Summit builds on the strengths and wisdom of land-based cultures

Food, can't live without it

By Tamra Testerman
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 10/24/18

French-Lakotan Pati Martinson, the interim director for Native American Food Sovereignty and current director of Taos County Economic Development Corp., said, "Connecting food to …

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Cuisine

Native Food Summit builds on the strengths and wisdom of land-based cultures

Food, can't live without it

Posted

French-Lakotan Pati Martinson, the interim director for Native American Food Sovereignty and current director of Taos County Economic Development Corp., said, "Connecting food to health… the land and water and those seeds that people have saved and traded for generations is critical for our survival."

The working philosophy behind the organizations she leads is to support the "food, land and cultures of the peoples of Northern, New Mexico."

Friday and Saturday (Oct. 26-27), Martinson and the groups she represents will host The Native Food Summit in Taos. Native Food Summits have been held around the country for several years, but this is the first time in New Mexico.

Martinson said it is a joint project of NAFSA, Traditional Native American Farmers from Tesuque Pueblo, Red Willow Farms, Taos Pueblo and TCEDC. The gathering will feature Native chefs providing meals with traditional and local ingredients, workshops and demonstrations over two days at TCEDC in Taos and Red Willow Farms at Taos Pueblo. The activities over the weekend are primarily for Native people. One special event is open to the public: a food and artisans market at Red Willow Friday from noon until 3 p.m.

Martinson and TCEDC member Terrie Bad Hand (Italian and Eastern Cherokee descent) have worked tirelessly for decades to raise community awareness about the connection between food and health.

According to Martinson, NAFSA began as people from Native communities connected through a peer mentoring program at TCEDC and around the nation. The organization is based in Taos with a leadership council of 20 Native activists and food practitioners in farming, food production and health. NAFSA facilitates the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network, Food and Culinary programs and a Storytelling and Resilience Mentorship.

Martinson said, "Our model builds upon the strengths and wisdom of land-based cultures that have showed the ability to survive and overcome adversity by keeping beliefs and values and recognizing the inevitability of cycles." She appears passionate about the connection between food and health and the seeds used for planting food because she has witnessed the introduction of United States Department of Agriculture commodities into the native diet and the health consequences, ranging from diabetes to cardiovascular disease, both nonexistent before now. The summit will provide opportunities for people from many cultural backgrounds to share wisdom and explore new ideas for the communities they represent.

Bad Hand said she became involved in the healthy food movement because of her children. "You are what you eat. It made sense to me to combine economic development with what is most important, which is the health of the people," she said. "Land-based cultures have always been healthy because they are tied to the earth."

Bad Hand said she hopes the summit will reenergize and help continue the momentum of the healthy food movement. "Taos can share with others around the country the healthy ways we are working with our food."

She said she sees the importance of the good food movement especially in rural and small areas. Bad Hand said, "The good food movement is a global one. The awareness of the connection between the food we eat and health is important for all people."

Topics and workshops scheduled for the summit are as eclectic and diverse as the people who will attend. Some highlights include a talk about "the gourd and its uses in ceremony and agriculture," a "cacao processing" demonstration with Julio Saqui, and a talk about "Ancient Pueblo Grid Gardens" with Louie Hena.

Roxanne Swentzell and Marian Naranjo will lead a talk about "The Pueblo Food Experience"; Chef Ray is planning to talk about "Corn Nixtimalization," a process for the preparation of maize; and Henrietta Gomez will talk about "Foraging."

Other topis include; "Cultivating and Ancient Potato" with Dine Bikeyah, "Corn Husk Doll" making with Janelle Lujan, "Traditional Seed Dugout" led by Pauline Lujan, a "Hopi Organic Gardening Course" with Susan Sekaquaptewa, a "Buffalo Fat Soap Making" demonstration with Lorraine Gray, and a "Fiber Arts" demonstration with Roy Kady. Clayton Brascoupe will show his "Homemade Corn Shucker" and Tiana Suzao and Randon Tafoya will co-host a panel about youth programs.

On Sunday (Oct. 28), Steve McComber and Rowen White are planning to talk about seed saving, and Taos Pueblo Governor Gilbert Suazo will talk about the struggle for Blue Lake. The women of Taos Pueblo will talk about feast preparation. In addition there is a talk scheduled about women empowerment and a Taos Pueblo and Red Willow Farm Tour scheduled.

For more information, visit nativefoodalliance.org/2018/10/12/program-agenda-for-southwest-intertribal-food-summit/.

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