>>FOOD IS IMPORTANT NOT JUST
TO SUSTAIN LIFE BUT HOW IT CONNECTS US TO TRADITIONS AND
OTHER PEOPLE. SOME NATIVE AMERICANS ARE
SEEKING OUT FOODS THEIR ANCESTORS ATE IN AN EFFORT TO
IMPROVE HEALTH AND RECONNECT WITH THEIR CULTURE. CORRESPONDENT MEGAN KAMERICK
SAT DOWN EARLIER THIS FALL WITH AN EDITOR OF THE PUEBLO
FOOD EXPERIENCE COOKBOOK AND A LOCAL CHEF. THEY TALKED ABOUT RECIPES THAT
APPEAL TO ADULTS AND KIDS AND WHY FOOD TRADITIONS ARE
IMPORTANT FOR COMMUNITIES.>>THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON
NEW MEXICO INFOCUS. ROXANNE SWENTZELL, AUTHOR OF
THE PUEBLO FOOD EXPERIENCE, WHOLE FOODS OF OUR ANCESTORS
AND LOIS ELLEN FRANK, SCHOLAR, AUTHOR, CHEF AND I WANT TO
TALK WITH YOU BOTH ABOUT RETURNING TO NATIVE FOODS. ROXANNE FOR NEARLY THREE
YEARS, ALMOST FOUR YEARS, YOU HAVE EATEN ONLY MOSTLY FOOD
EATEN BY YOUR ANCESTORS, BEFORE EUROPEAN CONTACT. WHY DID YOU WANT TO DO THIS
AND HOW DIFFICULT WAS IT?>>I WANTED TO DO IT BY WAY OF
TRYING TO KEEP OUR NATIVE CROPS ALIVE, BECAUSE I HAVE
BEEN A SEED SAVER FOR OVER 30 YEARS AND ONE WAY TO TRY TO
BRING BACK THE ACTUAL CROPS BACK INTO THE CULTURE AND TO
FIND OUT IF IT IS POSSIBLE IN TODAY’S TIME. ALSO, BECAUSE OF THE HEALTH
ISSUES WE FIND IN THE PUEBLOS, IN ALL THE TRIBES AT THIS
POINT, AND SEEING WHAT IT WOULD DO TO US, PHYSICALLY, TO
EAT OUR ANCESTRAL FOODS ONLY. SO, WE DID A TRIAL TEST
FOR THREE MONTHS AND TESTED 14 VOLUNTEERS FOR THREE MONTHS. GOT PHYSICAL BLOOD TESTS AND
STUFF TO SEE WHAT EATING ONLY PRE-CONTACT DIET WOULD DO TO
US AND RESULTS WERE INCREDIBLE.>>REALLY. IMPROVED HEALTH OUTCOMES,
BLOOD PRESSURE, WEIGHT LOSS.>>YEAH, AND MENTAL CLARITY. I MEAN EVERYBODY GOT HEALTHIER
IN ALL WAYS.>>WHAT WAS THAT LIKE FOR YOU
TO EXPERIENCE THAT?>>MORE THAN A DIET. MORE THAN HEALTH. IT WAS A VERY SPIRITUAL
JOURNEY INTO GETTING RECONNECTED TO OUR CULTURE AND
PLACE. I WAS THINKING AT THE TIME
THAT, WOW, I DIDN’T KNOW FOOD WOULD BE THE JOURNEY THAT
WOULD LEAD US CLOSER THAN I HAVE EVER BEEN TO WHAT I
BELIEVE OUR ANCESTORS WERE HOLDING.>>YOU ALSO HAVE BEEN FOR 25
YEARS WRITING, EDUCATING, TEACHING PEOPLE HOW TO COOK. WHAT WAS YOUR JOURNEY? HOW DID IT BEGIN AND DID YOU
HAVE SIMILAR KIND OF EXPERIENCES?>>I THINK WE’RE A LOT
ALIGNED. MY JOURNEY WAS A LITTLE
DIFFERENT. AS A PROFESSIONAL CHEF AND
BEING CLASSICALLY TRAINED, WHAT I NOTICED WAS THAT THERE
WERE NO NATIVE PEOPLE IN COMMERCIAL KITCHENS, VERY FEW
WOMEN, AND IN CULINARY SCHOOLS THEY WERE TEACHING UP AND
COMING CHEFS THAT NATIVE PEOPLE DIDN’T MAKE A
CONTRIBUTION, THAT AMERICAN CUISINE WASN’T HALF NATIVE, IF
NOT MORE. SO, I THINK THE JOURNEY
STARTED A LITTLE DIFFERENTLY THAN ROXANNE’S JOURNEY BUT AS
I BEGAN TO RESEARCH WHAT ARE NATIVE FOODS, WHAT DO WE ALL
HAVE IN COMMON, HOW DID WE TRADE FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS,
WHAT WERE THOSE FOODS AND REALLY BREAKING IT DOWN INTO A
HISTORIC CONTINUUM FROM THE PRECONTACT TO THE FIRST
CONTACT, TO THE GOVERNMENT ISSUE, TO NOW.>>YOU MEAN GOVERNMENT ISSUE
COMMODITIES?>>I AM TALKING ABOUT
RELOCATION. MY TRIBE WAS RELOCATED.>>WHAT IS YOUR TRIBE?>>KIOWA. FORCED RELOCATION; WE WENT
FROM BISON CULTURE TO OKLAHOMA AND THE GOVERNMENT GIVING US
SEEDS AND SAYING PLANT. AND WHILE THAT IS SOMETHING WE
CAN LEARN, IT WASN’T INHERENTLY WHO WE WERE. AND, THIS DISRUPTION WITH FOOD
AND THE KNOWLEDGE SURROUNDING FOOD AND LAND IS VERY
DIFFICULT IN TERMS OF A HISTORY OF NATIVE PEOPLE AND
THEIR FOODS. WE HAVE 566 FEDERALLY
RECOGNIZED TRIBES. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM KNOWS
HOW TO MAKE FRY BREAD SO THE GOVERNMENT SUCCEEDED. THAT DOESN’T INCLUDE STATE
RECOGNIZED TRIBES.>>THEY SUCCEEDED BECAUSE THAT
IS WHITE FLOUR.>>WHITE FLOUR AND LARD.>>PRETTY MUCH THE WORST KINDS
OF THINGS.>>SUGAR ON TOP OR THE BASIC
INDIAN TACO, AND WHERE WE ARE NOW IS WHAT I AM CALLING THE
NEW NATIVE. THE NEW NATIVE AMERICAN
CUISINE IS GOING BACK TO THE FUTURE. WE GO BACK IN HISTORY TO MOVE
FORWARD. WE RECLAIM WHAT IS OURS. WE TELL IT IN OUR OWN VOICE. WE TEACH YOUNG CULINARY
STUDENTS HOW TO BE NATIVE CHEFS AND COOK THEIR NATIVE
FOODS. AND IN EVERY RESTAURANT, EVERY
GAMING FACILITY, ALL OVER THE WORLD, AND WE ENCOURAGE OTHER
CULTURES TO DO THE SAME THING.>>TALK ABOUT THE KIND OF
FOODS — YOU WENT BACK TO THESE PRE-CONTACT FOODS. WHAT ARE THEY? WE HAVE THIS LOVELY DISPLAY. WHAT ARE THESE PRECONTACT
FOODS? WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT.>>IT WAS WHAT WAS IN OUR
ENVIRONMENT AT THAT TIME. I COULD GIVE YOU A ROUGH IDEA
OF LIKE THE ELK, DEER, RABBIT, BUFFALO, FISH THAT WERE HERE,
DIFFERENT BIRDS, DIFFERENT RODENTS. INSECTS AND THEN THE CROPS
THAT WERE GROWN.>>CORN.>>CORN, BEANS AND SQUASH. AMORETH IS ONE WE FORGET, BUT
THAT WAS VERY MUCH PROMINENT IN THIS AREA AT THAT TIME. THEN ALL THE WILD HERBS AND
STUFF THAT WE WERE PICKING, ROOTS, NUTS.>>I WANT TO ASK YOU, YOU MADE
A TRAIL MIX. WHAT DOES THAT HAVE IN IT?>>ONE OF THE STAPLES WHEN WE
WERE GOING INTO THIS DIET AND WE COULDN’T EAT ANY OUTSIDE
FOOD, WE WERE USED TO FAST LIFE STYLE AND SNACK FOOD AND
SO WE HAD TO THINK OF THINGS THAT WE COULD EAT ON THE ROAD
AND THAT WERE ALSO KIND OF SWEET BECAUSE WE WERE ALL
GOING THROUGH DETOX, MOSTLY OF SUGAR. AND ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WE
CAME UP WAS THIS TRAIL MIX WHICH IS MADE OUT OF PUMPKIN
SEEDS AND CURRANTS AND YOU COULD ADD SUN FLOWERS OR PINON
NUTS, THAT IS A NICE ADDITION TO IT AND IT IS A NICE SNACK
FOOD.>>LOIS, I KNOW THAT YOU
INCORPORATE CONTEMPORARY FOODS IN WITH NATIVE FOODS AND YOU
HAVE A BLUE CORN MUSH AND BERRY COMPOTE. WHAT IS THE RESULT OF
COMBINING NATIVE FOODS AN TRADITIONS WITH MORE
CONTEMPORARY — WHAT IS THE BENEFIT?>>AS A CHEF, YOU KNOW, WHAT
WE ARE DOING IS WE ARE TAKING EUROPEAN CULINARY TECHNIQUES
IN A MODERN KITCHEN. A GOOD EXAMPLE WOULD BE, DO I
KNOW HOW TO GRIND CORN ON THE GRINDING STONES THAT HAVE
BEEN IN MY FAMILY FOR GENERATIONS? YES. DO I DO THAT EVERYDAY FOR ALL
OF THE FOODS? NO, WE HAVE MODERN MACHINES
AND APPLIANCES, CUISINART, FOOD GRINDERS, SO, I
INCORPORATE SOME OF THE MODERN TECHNIQUES FOR USING FOOD AND
THEN THE PRESENTATION. I THINK AS NATIVE PEOPLE WE
HAVE ALWAYS BEEN ARTISTS AND WE SEE THAT IN THIS BEAUTIFUL
POT. WE SEE IT IN THE JEWEL LIKE
COLORS OF OUR CORN. WE SEE IT IN THE WAY WE DRESS. WE SEE IT IN EVERYTHING. AND, IT IS ALSO IN OUR FOOD. SO, HOW WE PRESENT IT, HOW WE
DESIGN IT, IS ALSO ART. WE USED TO PAINT OUR PONIES
WHEN WE WOULD RIDE, YOU KNOW, LIKE WARRIORS TO GO HUNTING. WE USED TO PAINT ALL OF OUR
POTTERY AND DESIGN OUR BEAUTIFUL REGALIA AND WE CAN
DO THAT SAME THING WITH FOOD. AS A CONTEMPORARY CHEF, I AM
BRINGING IN THAT ARTISTIC ELEMENT AND ENCOURAGING
STUDENTS TO HAVE THE SAME THING. ALL OF US CAN HAVE THE SAME
RECIPE. WHAT WE DO WITH IT MAKES US
EACH OUR INDIVIDUAL ARTIST. SO, YOU KNOW, THE TRAIL MIX,
ROXANNE IS DOING IT ONE WAY. I MIGHT SAY, WHAT OTHER WILD
BERRIES COULD I ADD. IT IS THE SAME THING. WE ARE JUST DOING IT A LITTLE
DIFFERENTLY.>>ROXANNE, YOU ALSO HAD SOME
FAMILIAR RECIPES LIKE BLUE CORN PANCAKES, FRIED
GRASSHOPPERS. WERE THOSE TASTY?>>THEY ARE TASTY IF YOU COOK
THEM RIGHT. YOU HAVE TO CATCH THEM WHEN
THEY ARE YOUNG. WHEN THEY GET BIG, THEY GET
CHEWY. THEIR LEGS ARE A LITTLE CHEWY.>>OKAY, I AM WILLING TO TRY.>>DID YOU GIVE UP CHILE?>>YES. CHILE WAS NOT HERE
WHEN THE SPANISH ARRIVED. THE
SPANISH BROUGHT IT UP THROUGH MEXICO. AND SO WE HAD TO GO OFF OF
BASIC THINGS THAT WE THOUGHT WERE INTO OUR TRADITIONS LIKE
CHILE, LIKE FRY BREAD, LIKE COFFEE. ALCOHOL. YOU KNOW, ALL THOSE THINGS,
NO.>>ARE YOU STILL ON THAT
STRICT –>>I AM NOT ON THE FIRST PART
BECAUSE WE WERE GUINEA PIGS. WE WANTED TO SEE
SCIENTIFICALLY WHAT IT WAS DOING MEDICALLY TO OUR BODY. SO, DURING THAT FIRST THREE
MONTHS, WE WERE VERY STRICT. AND THEN SOME OF US STAYED ON
PRETTY HARD CORE FOR AS LONG AS WE COULD. AND WE WOULD GO ON AND OFF
DEPENDING. WHEN YOU’RE TRAVELING IT IS
HARD TO FIND THESE FOODS. BUT, FOR ME, IF POSSIBLE, I
EAT THIS WAY ALL THE TIME.>>YOU HAVE BOTH TAUGHT
CHILDREN ABOUT NATIVE FOODS, AND TAUGHT THEM HOW TO COOK
IT. WHAT HAS BEEN THE REACTION? I AM THINKING A KID IS LIKE I
COULD HAVE A FRIED GRASSHOPPER OR A TWINKIE.>>WELL, WE DO A NATIVE
AMERICAN KIDS CAMP AND WE WORK ON A CURRICULUM, WRITING A
CURRICULUM RIGHT NOW WITH THE SANTA FE PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR
INDIAN EDUCATION AND WE TEACH CHILDREN HOW TO CUT
VEGETABLES, MAKE STEW AND GRIND CORN AND HOW TO MAKE
MUSH, HOW TO BOIL THE BERRIES TO MAKE IT INTO A DESERT. THEY LOVE IT. I THINK WHAT HAPPENS IS WHEN
YOU CREATE A PRIDE IN THE FOODS THAT ARE TRADITIONAL,
AND YOU TEACH SKILLS, CHILDREN GROW UP LEARNING, YOU KNOW,
AND YOU KNOW YOU’RE A SUCCESS WHEN KIDS SAY, I HAVE TO SAVE
THIS. CAN I HAVE ANOTHER ONE? CAN I SAVE IT. I HAVE TO SHOW MY MOM.
AND THEN WHEN MOM COMES TO PICK THEM UP, THEY SAY, MOM,
LOOK WE MADE THIS PUDDING. IT IS A NATIVE AMERICAN
PARFAIT. IT IS CORN MUSH WITH BERRIES
AND WE ARE DOING THE SAME THING AS WHAT THEY WOULD SEE A
YOGURT PARFAIT BUT WE DIDN’T HAVE YOGURT. IF YOU WANT TO THINK YOU COULD
MILK A WILD OX TO GET CHEESE OR BUTTER, IT DIDN’T HAPPEN. WE DIDN’T MILK BISON. WE DIDN’T HAVE DAIRY. WHEN WE SEE ALL THE
COMMERCIALS THAT SAY YOU NEED YOGURT FOR PRO-BIOTICS, FOR
9,500 YEARS WHAT DID NATIVE PEOPLE DO? WE USED OUR NATIVE FOODS. AND SO, YOU KNOW, WE BRING
THAT, BRING THE STORIES, WE BRING THE FOODS AND I THINK
KIDS ARE SPONGES AND I THINK IT IS AN AMAZING PROCESS.>>DID THEY LIKE THE
GRASSHOPPERS?>>SOME OF THEM BUT YEAH.>>WE CAN’T GO BACK TO
PRECONQUEST WORLD OR TIME SO HOW DO YOU HOPE THAT
INCORPORATING THESE FOODS INTO OUR DIET NOW CAN HELP US IN
THIS MODERN WORLD?>>OBVIOUSLY WE LIVE IN A
MODERN AGE NOW BUT WE CAN EAT THIS WAY. SO, IN A WAY WE CAN GO BACK. BUT, WITH A CONSCIOUSNESS —
WITH A CONSCIOUS CHOICE TO DO THAT BECAUSE IT IS A
RECONNECTING TO PLACE AND CULTURE. AND IT DOESN’T MEAN EVERYONE
SHOULD EAT THIS WAY. I BELIEVE, YOU KNOW, I KNOW
EVERYONE IS INDIGENOUS TO SOMEWHERE AND IT IS MORE
ASKING THE QUESTION, WHERE ARE YOU FROM ORIGINALLY ON THIS
EARTH? WHAT DID YOUR BODY ADAPT TO
FOOD-WISE BECAUSE OF THAT ENVIRONMENT THAT YOU COME FROM
AND THERE IS A CONNECTION THAT HAPPENS. SHE JUST TOLD THAT STORY
BEFORE WE CAME IN HERE ABOUT HER GOING TO RUSSIA AND THAT
CONNECTION.>>I KNOW YOU JUST CAME BACK
FROM RUSSIA. TELL ME ABOUT THAT. REAL QUICK.>>SO I DO WHAT IS CALLED
CULINARY DIPLOMACY, DIPLOMACY THROUGH FOOD, AND WE DID SHIP
MANY INGREDIENTS FROM HERE FOR THE RUSSIANS. THEY HAD WHITE CORN BREAD FROM
SANTA ANA PUEBLO AND BLUE CORN BREAD AND BLUE CORN POSOLE,
WHITE CORN POSOLE, TAMALE. WE HAD TO TEACH THEM NOT TO
EAT THE OUTSIDE, THE CORN HUSK BUT I THINK THE BIGGEST
MESSAGE — THERE IS TWO SORT OF THEMES THAT COME UP. ONE, FOOD IS A UNIVERSAL
LANGUAGE. WE ARE ALL INDIGENOUS TO
SOMEWHERE AND AS THEY TASTED THE FOOD, ONE OF THEM WAS THE
BOILED BERRIES AND BOILED IN THE PECTIN AND THE BERRIES
MAKES IT ALMOST GELATINOUS AND HARDENS. AND ONE OF THE YOUNG STUDENTS
SAID MY GRANDMA COULD HAVE MADE IT BUT WE WOULD HAVE
SERVED IT WITH SOUR CREAM, SO THERE IS DEFINITELY A DAIRY
CULTURE. THE MESSAGE IS WHAT DID YOUR
GRANDMOTHER MAKE AND WHAT DID SHE NOURISH YOU WITH AND HOW
DO YOU RECLAIM THAT? WHEN SOMEONE GOES TO A PLACE,
AND ROXANNE IS RIGHT, PLACE INSTEAD OF TRYING TO EAT
ANOTHER WORLD CUISINE OR ANOTHER CULTURE’S CUISINE,
WHAT IS YOUR CUISINE? WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DID YOUR
ANCESTORS COOK AND I KNOW WHEN I TRAVEL THAT IS WHAT I WANT
TO EAT. PEOPLE COME TO NEW MEXICO FOR
THE CULTURAL EXPERIENCE AND THEY WANT TO EAT THE FOODS OF
THIS PLACE. WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO EAT A
MARYLAND CRAB CAKE IN NEW MEXICO? YOU WANT TO GO TO MARYLAND TO
EAT THAT, SO HERE WHAT DO WE HAVE AND WHAT CAN WE SHARE
THAT IS INHERENTLY INDIGENOUS AND PEOPLE WANT THAT. PEOPLE ARE READY FOR THE FIRST
TIME IN HISTORY.>>THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR
COMING AND TALKING. IT HAS BEEN GREAT.>>THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.>>APPRECIATE IT.