Mixed vegetables, traditionally served in the comunity were featured during the Honoring Native Foodways event. | PN Photo/Zachary Young
On Thursday, Nov. 7, UNCP hosted the 11th Annual Honoring Native Foodways event. This event showcased a range of traditional Native foods for the community to sample such as: collards, corn, deer stew, squash and tea cakes.
Honoring Native Foodways was open to all members of the campus community, as well as the community of Robeson County as a whole.
The concept of “food sovereignty” may be new to some, but this is not only a term that Native peoples across the globe are familiar with, it is a reality.
In short, food sovereignty is having access to and the ability to grow culturally appropriate foods.
In the United States, this right has not been afforded to the majority of the Native population due to countless government efforts such as the General Allotment Act of 1887.
Due to the removal of Native populations from their lands and the “purchase” of Native lands by the U.S. government, many Native peoples have been forced to abandon their homelands and inadvertently their traditional diets and medicines.
According to the website for the Center for Disease Control, Native Americans are at a greater risk of developing diabetes than any other racial group in the U.S.
This can be directly attributed to the effects of the aforementioned government policy and subsequent land treaties.
You may be currently eating Native foods without even realizing it.
Dr. Jane Haladay an American Indian Studies professor at UNCP shared that we often consume foods which are native to the Americas, foods such as: chocolate, potatoes, quinoa, salmon, tomatoes, turkey, etc.
According to Haladay, the long-term goal of Honoring Native Foodways is “to plant new seeds of understanding about the tremendous range of healthy, delicious Indigenous foods that continue to be important to Native peoples, and that continue to be available to many of us—Native and non-Native—to cook and eat.”
Cooking and eating Indigenous foods prepared in a healthy way is not only physically and/or spiritually nourishing, but it is also a way of honoring the Native peoples who have worked to maintain their food sovereignty across centuries of brutal efforts to exterminate these foods and the people themselves.
Continuing to eat and honor these foods while knowing where they come from is continuing to honor Native American people.
“It would take a significant amount of public education, shared interest, and time to make it happen… But these are discussions and decisions that local Native people themselves will have to create and control,” said Haladay.
Haladay encourages anyone who may be interested in assisting Honoring Native Foodways in the future to visit the American Indian Studies Department webpage.
On the site is a link to the event description, in addition to a recipe booklet that consists of Native food recipes.
UNCP students, staff and members of the community enjoy the Honoring Native Foodways
event in the University Center Annex. | PN Photo/ Zachary Young