As the challenging year of 2020 draws toward a close, we wanted to get into the kitchen to offer a special meal highlighting Indigenous foods. The HaŠarak waruc (Healing Meal) is the Teejop (Madison or Four Lakes) Native Food Celebration prepared by Elena Terry (Wild Bearies), Yusuf Bin-Rella (TradeRoots and UW Housing), and Dan Cornelius (Intertribal Agriculture Council and Yowela?talih Farms).
We ask that you pre-order by Thursday evening, November 19th to better guarantee your order, but we will work to fill orders received on Friday. However, quantities of both dishes are limited. We are also offering a sponsor a meal program, so please contact us if you need help with a meal for you or your family.
Native people have lived in the Teejop area for over 10,000 years, yet few contemporary local residents are aware that wild rice surrounded the shores our our lakes and waterways when the territorial was established in the 1830s, nor are they aware of the countless ways to prepare our heritage Indigenous corn that continues to be a mainstay food in many Native households. Most local and Wisconsin residents are similarly unaware that herring and whitefish are probably the two most sustainable and healthy regional fish. This meal highlights these ingredients, most of which have been sourced by American Indian food producers. Check out the producer directory, and please consider submitting an application for the no-cost “Made by American Indians” trademark.
Who are those American Indian Producers?
The Red Cliff Fish Company opened its doors for operations on Monday, November 16th, 2020 after several years of planning, fundraising, and efforts to gain the support, partnership, and trust of the Tribe’s fishermen. This Tribal operation is working to support fishermen with higher prices while better connecting superior product to Native and non-Native customers.
Lake Superior herring season is in full swing. Historically prized for its roe (eggs), herring is particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids and extremely low in biotoxins found in most fish since the herring are not a predatory fish but rather eat zooplankton.
Check back for more food producer information over the next couple days. These producers include:
The Intertribal Agriculture Council launched a pilot food distribution effort, the Mobile Farmers Market, in 2013 to explore how to better connect American Indian producers to customers on both on and off reservations. The effort has participated or hosted dozens of markets over the years while also expanding the presence of Native foods and arts at countless conferences and events.
Covid has posed challenges to staffing, so we are not currently participating in farmers markets or special events. However, plans are underway for launching a dedicated regional distribution cooperative to better serve Tribal food producers. And stay tuned for other news and efforts in the near future.
Native communities have grown and saved seeds for countless generations. Many of these historic seeds have been lost in recent decades, but efforts led by the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network are helping to bring back both knowledge required to save these seeds and the actual seeds themselves.
A partnership with Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) based in Decorah, Iowa reviewed SSE’s 33,000+ seed collection, finding over 1,000 seeds with direct connections to Native communities. Twenty-five of these seeds were chosen for growing in 2018, with the resulting seed harvest then going back to the communities from which these seeds originated.
The first seed rematration through this effort occurred at the conclusion of the Southwest Intertribal Food Summit when seeds and a full squash were returned to the governor and elders of Taos Pueblo. While Taos Pueblo growers grow a number of types of squash, seeds from this historic squash variety have crossed with other squashes over the years, so this historic variety had been lost but is now returned.
The Intertribal Agriculture Council and the Gun Lake Pottawatomi Tribe are hosting the Spring 2017 Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit from April 19-23 at Gun Lake’s Jijak facility. Please visit the event website if you want to share feedback on what you’d like to see as part of the event or if you want to get involved.
Chef applications are currently being accepted, with those received by November 30th receiving priority.
The Native Market and Gallery, a fixed store location at 1732 Fordem Avenue in Madison, WI, is open from 4:00-7:00pm every Wednesday, as well as when staff are present. We’re working on expanding regular hours in the near future. In addition to the Indigenous foods inventory, the store carries an expanding assortment of Native jewelry and art, and is also home to the Intertribal Agriculture Council’s regional office that provides technical assistance to American Indian agricultural producers.
Check the schedule page for upcoming market and special events. We’ve got a food booth again at this year’s Taste of Madison (still looking for additional volunteers) on Labor Day weekend, and will be at farmers markets throughout the summer. The van won’t be on the road as much as previous years due to staffing constraints, but check back for more info on a possible tour later this summer.
We are also excited to announce our new regional TSA (Tribally Supported Agriculture) shares ($25 and $50/month options) and TSA ordering website where you can now place orders online. We are recruiting pick-up sites across the region where we’ll ship combined orders on a monthly basis to reduce shipping costs. TSA customers will have access to unique, limited-quantity items like Jijak’s Maple Vinegar.
The Intertribal Agriculture Council is hiring a part-time Sales and Marketing Associate for our Madison regional office. Please see the position description posted below and submit your application by Friday, May 27th for priority consideration.
The Mobile Seed Library is a new effort intended to make high quality seeds more available throughout the Great Lakes region. We will be distributing seeds through the mobile farmers market, at special events, and in partnership with community distribution sites. Please contact us if you are interested in becoming a community distribution site.
We are still accepting orders for holiday gift boxes featuring Native foods until Friday, December 18th for delivery before Christmas. Pick-up (Madison, WI) or expedited shipping orders will have a couple more days.
This year’s basic gift box features a half pound of Spirit Lake Native Products wild rice, a bottle of wild berry or maple syrup, and a jar of wild berry jam from Red Lake Nation Foods. The total cost is only $25, plus shipping.
Click on the PDF file link at the bottom of this post to enter your order in a fillable form.