New recipes

Chasing a Native Summer Through the Southwest

Chasing a Native Summer Through the Southwest

With the 92nd annual Indian Market in Santa Fe passing through and the last month of summer vacation tempting everyone to get on the road, there's no better time to appreciate Native American heritage, architecture, art and mythology. Photo Credit: Lena Katz

Highway 84, Santa Fe
With the 92nd annual Indian Market in Santa Fe passing through and the last month of summer vacation tempting everyone to get on the road, there's no better time to appreciate Native American heritage, architecture, art and mythology. It permeates many regions of the Southwest, and often coexists as a much lengthier chapter with the newer American history at parks and historic sites around the continent.
Photo Courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department

Acoma Pueblo, Sky City
New Mexico is perhaps the state best known for its rich tribal heritage and tourism offerings. One of the names everyone recognizes is Pueblo, mostly for the villages they dwelt in at the time the Spanish came West. Of the ancient pueblos that still stand today, Acoma Pueblo is perhaps the most visually impressive. It's open (only to pre-registered visitors) for guided tours from March through November.
Photo Credit: Lena Katz

Echo Amphitheater, Carson National Forest
Nearby Acoma Pueblo and easily accessible to anyone who happens to be driving on Highway 84, Echo Amphitheater is an incredible natural formation. It's a vast echo chamber formed of sandstone. Although the visitor's guides encourage you to "scream and shout" to hear the echoes, this region of red sandstone mountains and lonely roads is very, very quiet.
Photo Credit: Jon Simon/La Fonda on the Plaza

Lobby Artwork, La Fonda
For the 150,000 guests who come to New Mexico specifically for the Indian Market, the hub of the action is right in the historic lobby of La Fonda on the Plaza. This property has welcomed travelers in one incarnation or another for 400 years and claims status as the end-point of the Santa Fe Trail; and therefore, the ultimate destination for all travelers to these parts. It's supported the Indian Market since approximately the time of the event's inception.
Photo Courtesy of Beals & Abbate Fine Art

Eldorado Art, Sculpture by Rebecca Tobey
Though Indian Market is perhaps the busiest moment of summer from a commercial standpoint, the city of Santa Fe is a city defined by art and architecture year-round. Even if you never set foot in a gallery, you'll be exposed to it in the hotels and restaurants, many of which feature gallery-caliber collections. Eldorado Hotel & Spa has eye-catching bronze animal sculptures by Rebecca Tobey outside the front entrance for visitors to appreciate while dropping their car with the valet.
Photo Courtesy of Beals & Abbate Fine Art Sculpture

Eldorado Hotel & Spa, Artist Receptions
And if you don't make it to Indian Market, there are many other chances to be exposed to art and mingle with its creators in a small-group setting throughout the year. One such program is Beals & Abbate Fine Art Gallery's partnership with Eldorado Hotel, a popular business-luxe hotel that just opened a 4,000-square-foot gallery, and is hosting all sorts of art events that run from meet-the-artist parties to art dinners featuring live demos.
Photo Credit: Lena Katz

Farmers Market, Artisan Breads
For those of us who mainly appreciate artistry when it's edible and not too expensive, well, the artisan food producers of the Southwest know how to make art out of something as simple as bread. This small-town baker, found in Southern New Mexico farmers markets, specializes in hand-decorated loaves made from ancient grains.
Photo Courtesy of Sheraton Wild Horse Pass

Red Deer Venison Loin, Kai at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass
To experience Native-America-cuisine-gone-gourmet, head to Kai restaurant in Phoenix, Arizona. Chef Conor Favre just secured his place among the nation's finest chefs by earning a Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star rating; the only one to be bestowed on an Arizona restaurant this year.

Teddy Bear Cholla Cactus, Sonoran Preserve
The Phoenix/Scottsdale area features an interesting combination of sprawling luxury spa resorts, intimidatingly busy freeways, suburban development and then — seemingly just over any hill — nothing but the Sonoran Desert. Bring all the water you can carry if you're hiking in the desert , always keep track of where you're going and no matter how cute the Teddy Bear Cholla cactus might look, don't go near it. It's also nicknamed the "jumping cholla" because the spikes are so fine-tipped they'll "jump" into clothes and skin before you can see them.
Photo Courtesy of Flickr/IndigoOrange

Devil's Tower National Monument, Wyoming
Another natural landmark that will see hundreds of thousands of visitors this year is Devil's Tower in the Black Hills of Wyoming. This was actually the first site to receive official United States National Monument status in 1906. It's on every climber's bucket list, but only a tiny percentage of people who make the pilgrimage dare to scale the summit of this 5,114-foot rock monolith. Sacred to the Lakota Sioux, this site figures into several native people's creation lore. Accordingly, there are many ancient names for it, including Bear's Lodge and Bear's Lair.
Photo Courtesy of NPS.gov

Nez Perce, National Historic Park
The 38 designated Nez Pearce park sites are spread through four states: Idaho, Washington, Montana and Oregon. Pictured here are tipi poles standing permanent vigil to commemorate the tragedy of Big Hole Battlefield. Other park sites encompass petroglyphs, geological features, sacred sites and several more somber battlegrounds.
Photo Courtesy of Plimoth Plantation

Plimoth Plantation Wampanoag Homesite, Massachusetts
By no means is Native American heritage only thriving west of the Mississippi. Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts says that the Wampanoag section of its living history park inspires more visitor engagement (both in real life and online) than anything else. In order to work there, people must be of a native tribe, though not necessarily the Wampanoag. Workers are not required to act out roles from past centuries; they talk to park guests about any topic that's thrown out there, from ancient customs to modern-day politics.
Photo Courtesy of New Mexico Tourism Department

Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, New Mexico
Whether your travels take you to the Bear's Lair, the desert, the heart of Santa Fe or the bridge to nowhere (as this bridge was once nicknamed), take time and appreciate the countless cultures and landscapes that await discovery, once you're inward from the coasts.


Native American chef shares indigenous culinary traditions

A member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma, Loretta Barrett Oden's earliest memories revolve around being in the kitchen.

Still, she came to professional cooking later in life, well after she'd raised a family and her children were on their own. An empty nester traveling in California and the Southwest, she was hard-pressed to find Native American foodways.

The more she looked, the less she saw. It became her turning point.

Working with her son Clay in the early 1990s, she opened the Corn Dance Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M. It was the first restaurant in the country to focus on foods indigenous to the Americas. Her son passed away at 38, and after nearly a decade the cafe closed. Oden emerged with an even stronger commitment to preserving indigenous foods and traditions.

Gathering recipes through oral histories and travel, the 72-year-old has made it her mission to find recipes, track trade routes and spread knowledge of indigenous foods across the Americas. Sharing Native American history through cooking, Oden sees food as her most powerful educational tool.

"The food history of the Americas is my all-consuming passion," says Oden. "When people have their mouth full of food, they'll listen."

Q.What put you on the path of pursuing Native American food histories and indigenous foods?

A. I got married, raised my kids in Oklahoma, but not on the reservation. Late in life there was a change of circumstances. After my two boys were in college and grown. I embarked upon a grand adventure.

I traveled and noticed wherever I go, I see nothing that represents Native American foodways &mdash except fry bread and tacos, of course. It set me on a track of investigating. What did we eat and what food history do we have?

Q.What were you most surprised to learn?

A. When I began delving into it extensively, I was just blown away. One of the books I read that kind of set me on this path was a book called "Indian Givers" by Jack Weatherford at Macalester College in Minnesota. I was so taken by the history of the food and the political ramifications. Of course, I got into food thinking it was the least political thing, but it turned out to be very different.

Think about how very many foods we eat around the world today that are indigenous to somewhere in the Americas. Whoa. So I really began investigating, going from reservation to reservation. I was looking at cooking methods. Then it dawned on me that our food in its regionality is as diverse as we are as Indian people.

Q.What differences did you note regionally?

A. We think Indians are Indians. Well, no. We are very distinct groups of ethnic people, and in each area of our original homelands was this very unique food that the creator put in that place for our sustenance. Think fiddlehead ferns and salmon in the Northwest, corn from Mexico.

Q.What drives you to keep looking for stories and recipes?

A. I do not want to go to my grave as an Indian chef who cooked fry bread. Many tribes and our groups of people do. I do not want our cuisine to be defined by fry bread.

It is such a rich, delicious, varied cuisine that rivals anything from France, Italy or anywhere else on the planet. There really is such a thing as Native American cuisine. The cuisine doesn't fit people's ideas, but we do have a very distinct native cuisine.

Q.What can we learn from the history of these Native American foodways?

A. What I try to do with my food is to point out the diversity of foods indigenous to the Americas. Through that food, I hope to enlighten people or heighten people's awareness of native peoples.

It is as different as a German from Italian, different languages, different everything. It is something I think needs to be taught a little more seriously in our schools. I have six grandkids. We're still having land re-enactments and kids dressing up as Indians and Pilgrims in elementary school like I did when I was in school.

Sharing food, sharing the table is the best way to get to know a people. My food is a kinder, gentler way of educating people.

Q.How do you determine recipes to pursue? How do you create an indigenous menu?

A. Reading and traveling. We're talking about 500 nations just in North America alone. My ingredient list stretches to Tierra del Fuego. I consider everything that was there pre-contact (with Western Europeans) as fodder for my menus.

I've done a lot of mixing and matching, I may take the quinoa from Bolivia and Peru and mix it with wild rice from Ojibwe. It is a huge challenge. That's why you don't see very many cookbooks out there. It is certainly open to interpretation, because we were and pretty much, and still are, an oral tradition people.

Q.How do you define indigenous foods?

A. My own definition, created with my son Clay, who worked at my side for all the years in Santa Fe before he passed away, we literally would pick an ingredient.

Say I wanted to do something with ginger. We'd ask, is this indigenous? The ginger root is not indigenous, but there is a substitute, a wild option called different things by different tribes, snake root.

Q.Fry bread is not indigenous despite most people's association with Native American cooking?

A. It is not in any way indigenous. It is a product of the government commodities program when they relocated people from their homelands.

We have huge debates about fry bread in Indian country today. It is traditional only in the sense that maybe traditions are built as you go along. But especially some of the younger chefs and native people I work with look at it as a survival food, and it absolutely was.

It was all that a lot of people had to eat during those times. You'd go pick up your commodities and you got a 50-pound bag of white wheat flour, a chunk of lard, maybe a few beans, but there is very little in the program even today that is of nutritional value.

Fry bread is what the women were creative enough to come up with to fill hungry bellies. Fry bread traveled through the pow-wow circuit and became ubiquitous.

Q.What are some foods we may see on the menu for the dinner at Dream Dance?

A. We're starting off with the definitive Native American snack food: popcorn. An amuse- bouche of a spicy popcorn with sage, chile pepper, a taster with a teeny shot of very good tequila, smoked wild-caught salmon with snake root . and a mixed grill of bison tenderloin with a juniper berry and sage, quail, sautéed autumn cholla buds and a sunchoke mash. It is going to be fun.

Chef at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino event

Marking Native American Heritage Month, on Nov. 11 Loretta Barrett Oden will prepare an indigenous foods dinner at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino's Dream Dance Steak restaurant.

Dinner, which includes a reception beginning at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m., will be $85 per person.

For reservations, call (414) 847-7883.

About Kristine M. Kierzek

Kristine M. Kierzek is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer. She regularly writes Chef Chat and Fork. Spoon. Life. columns for Fresh.


Native American chef shares indigenous culinary traditions

A member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma, Loretta Barrett Oden's earliest memories revolve around being in the kitchen.

Still, she came to professional cooking later in life, well after she'd raised a family and her children were on their own. An empty nester traveling in California and the Southwest, she was hard-pressed to find Native American foodways.

The more she looked, the less she saw. It became her turning point.

Working with her son Clay in the early 1990s, she opened the Corn Dance Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M. It was the first restaurant in the country to focus on foods indigenous to the Americas. Her son passed away at 38, and after nearly a decade the cafe closed. Oden emerged with an even stronger commitment to preserving indigenous foods and traditions.

Gathering recipes through oral histories and travel, the 72-year-old has made it her mission to find recipes, track trade routes and spread knowledge of indigenous foods across the Americas. Sharing Native American history through cooking, Oden sees food as her most powerful educational tool.

"The food history of the Americas is my all-consuming passion," says Oden. "When people have their mouth full of food, they'll listen."

Q.What put you on the path of pursuing Native American food histories and indigenous foods?

A. I got married, raised my kids in Oklahoma, but not on the reservation. Late in life there was a change of circumstances. After my two boys were in college and grown. I embarked upon a grand adventure.

I traveled and noticed wherever I go, I see nothing that represents Native American foodways &mdash except fry bread and tacos, of course. It set me on a track of investigating. What did we eat and what food history do we have?

Q.What were you most surprised to learn?

A. When I began delving into it extensively, I was just blown away. One of the books I read that kind of set me on this path was a book called "Indian Givers" by Jack Weatherford at Macalester College in Minnesota. I was so taken by the history of the food and the political ramifications. Of course, I got into food thinking it was the least political thing, but it turned out to be very different.

Think about how very many foods we eat around the world today that are indigenous to somewhere in the Americas. Whoa. So I really began investigating, going from reservation to reservation. I was looking at cooking methods. Then it dawned on me that our food in its regionality is as diverse as we are as Indian people.

Q.What differences did you note regionally?

A. We think Indians are Indians. Well, no. We are very distinct groups of ethnic people, and in each area of our original homelands was this very unique food that the creator put in that place for our sustenance. Think fiddlehead ferns and salmon in the Northwest, corn from Mexico.

Q.What drives you to keep looking for stories and recipes?

A. I do not want to go to my grave as an Indian chef who cooked fry bread. Many tribes and our groups of people do. I do not want our cuisine to be defined by fry bread.

It is such a rich, delicious, varied cuisine that rivals anything from France, Italy or anywhere else on the planet. There really is such a thing as Native American cuisine. The cuisine doesn't fit people's ideas, but we do have a very distinct native cuisine.

Q.What can we learn from the history of these Native American foodways?

A. What I try to do with my food is to point out the diversity of foods indigenous to the Americas. Through that food, I hope to enlighten people or heighten people's awareness of native peoples.

It is as different as a German from Italian, different languages, different everything. It is something I think needs to be taught a little more seriously in our schools. I have six grandkids. We're still having land re-enactments and kids dressing up as Indians and Pilgrims in elementary school like I did when I was in school.

Sharing food, sharing the table is the best way to get to know a people. My food is a kinder, gentler way of educating people.

Q.How do you determine recipes to pursue? How do you create an indigenous menu?

A. Reading and traveling. We're talking about 500 nations just in North America alone. My ingredient list stretches to Tierra del Fuego. I consider everything that was there pre-contact (with Western Europeans) as fodder for my menus.

I've done a lot of mixing and matching, I may take the quinoa from Bolivia and Peru and mix it with wild rice from Ojibwe. It is a huge challenge. That's why you don't see very many cookbooks out there. It is certainly open to interpretation, because we were and pretty much, and still are, an oral tradition people.

Q.How do you define indigenous foods?

A. My own definition, created with my son Clay, who worked at my side for all the years in Santa Fe before he passed away, we literally would pick an ingredient.

Say I wanted to do something with ginger. We'd ask, is this indigenous? The ginger root is not indigenous, but there is a substitute, a wild option called different things by different tribes, snake root.

Q.Fry bread is not indigenous despite most people's association with Native American cooking?

A. It is not in any way indigenous. It is a product of the government commodities program when they relocated people from their homelands.

We have huge debates about fry bread in Indian country today. It is traditional only in the sense that maybe traditions are built as you go along. But especially some of the younger chefs and native people I work with look at it as a survival food, and it absolutely was.

It was all that a lot of people had to eat during those times. You'd go pick up your commodities and you got a 50-pound bag of white wheat flour, a chunk of lard, maybe a few beans, but there is very little in the program even today that is of nutritional value.

Fry bread is what the women were creative enough to come up with to fill hungry bellies. Fry bread traveled through the pow-wow circuit and became ubiquitous.

Q.What are some foods we may see on the menu for the dinner at Dream Dance?

A. We're starting off with the definitive Native American snack food: popcorn. An amuse- bouche of a spicy popcorn with sage, chile pepper, a taster with a teeny shot of very good tequila, smoked wild-caught salmon with snake root . and a mixed grill of bison tenderloin with a juniper berry and sage, quail, sautéed autumn cholla buds and a sunchoke mash. It is going to be fun.

Chef at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino event

Marking Native American Heritage Month, on Nov. 11 Loretta Barrett Oden will prepare an indigenous foods dinner at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino's Dream Dance Steak restaurant.

Dinner, which includes a reception beginning at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m., will be $85 per person.

For reservations, call (414) 847-7883.

About Kristine M. Kierzek

Kristine M. Kierzek is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer. She regularly writes Chef Chat and Fork. Spoon. Life. columns for Fresh.


Native American chef shares indigenous culinary traditions

A member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma, Loretta Barrett Oden's earliest memories revolve around being in the kitchen.

Still, she came to professional cooking later in life, well after she'd raised a family and her children were on their own. An empty nester traveling in California and the Southwest, she was hard-pressed to find Native American foodways.

The more she looked, the less she saw. It became her turning point.

Working with her son Clay in the early 1990s, she opened the Corn Dance Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M. It was the first restaurant in the country to focus on foods indigenous to the Americas. Her son passed away at 38, and after nearly a decade the cafe closed. Oden emerged with an even stronger commitment to preserving indigenous foods and traditions.

Gathering recipes through oral histories and travel, the 72-year-old has made it her mission to find recipes, track trade routes and spread knowledge of indigenous foods across the Americas. Sharing Native American history through cooking, Oden sees food as her most powerful educational tool.

"The food history of the Americas is my all-consuming passion," says Oden. "When people have their mouth full of food, they'll listen."

Q.What put you on the path of pursuing Native American food histories and indigenous foods?

A. I got married, raised my kids in Oklahoma, but not on the reservation. Late in life there was a change of circumstances. After my two boys were in college and grown. I embarked upon a grand adventure.

I traveled and noticed wherever I go, I see nothing that represents Native American foodways &mdash except fry bread and tacos, of course. It set me on a track of investigating. What did we eat and what food history do we have?

Q.What were you most surprised to learn?

A. When I began delving into it extensively, I was just blown away. One of the books I read that kind of set me on this path was a book called "Indian Givers" by Jack Weatherford at Macalester College in Minnesota. I was so taken by the history of the food and the political ramifications. Of course, I got into food thinking it was the least political thing, but it turned out to be very different.

Think about how very many foods we eat around the world today that are indigenous to somewhere in the Americas. Whoa. So I really began investigating, going from reservation to reservation. I was looking at cooking methods. Then it dawned on me that our food in its regionality is as diverse as we are as Indian people.

Q.What differences did you note regionally?

A. We think Indians are Indians. Well, no. We are very distinct groups of ethnic people, and in each area of our original homelands was this very unique food that the creator put in that place for our sustenance. Think fiddlehead ferns and salmon in the Northwest, corn from Mexico.

Q.What drives you to keep looking for stories and recipes?

A. I do not want to go to my grave as an Indian chef who cooked fry bread. Many tribes and our groups of people do. I do not want our cuisine to be defined by fry bread.

It is such a rich, delicious, varied cuisine that rivals anything from France, Italy or anywhere else on the planet. There really is such a thing as Native American cuisine. The cuisine doesn't fit people's ideas, but we do have a very distinct native cuisine.

Q.What can we learn from the history of these Native American foodways?

A. What I try to do with my food is to point out the diversity of foods indigenous to the Americas. Through that food, I hope to enlighten people or heighten people's awareness of native peoples.

It is as different as a German from Italian, different languages, different everything. It is something I think needs to be taught a little more seriously in our schools. I have six grandkids. We're still having land re-enactments and kids dressing up as Indians and Pilgrims in elementary school like I did when I was in school.

Sharing food, sharing the table is the best way to get to know a people. My food is a kinder, gentler way of educating people.

Q.How do you determine recipes to pursue? How do you create an indigenous menu?

A. Reading and traveling. We're talking about 500 nations just in North America alone. My ingredient list stretches to Tierra del Fuego. I consider everything that was there pre-contact (with Western Europeans) as fodder for my menus.

I've done a lot of mixing and matching, I may take the quinoa from Bolivia and Peru and mix it with wild rice from Ojibwe. It is a huge challenge. That's why you don't see very many cookbooks out there. It is certainly open to interpretation, because we were and pretty much, and still are, an oral tradition people.

Q.How do you define indigenous foods?

A. My own definition, created with my son Clay, who worked at my side for all the years in Santa Fe before he passed away, we literally would pick an ingredient.

Say I wanted to do something with ginger. We'd ask, is this indigenous? The ginger root is not indigenous, but there is a substitute, a wild option called different things by different tribes, snake root.

Q.Fry bread is not indigenous despite most people's association with Native American cooking?

A. It is not in any way indigenous. It is a product of the government commodities program when they relocated people from their homelands.

We have huge debates about fry bread in Indian country today. It is traditional only in the sense that maybe traditions are built as you go along. But especially some of the younger chefs and native people I work with look at it as a survival food, and it absolutely was.

It was all that a lot of people had to eat during those times. You'd go pick up your commodities and you got a 50-pound bag of white wheat flour, a chunk of lard, maybe a few beans, but there is very little in the program even today that is of nutritional value.

Fry bread is what the women were creative enough to come up with to fill hungry bellies. Fry bread traveled through the pow-wow circuit and became ubiquitous.

Q.What are some foods we may see on the menu for the dinner at Dream Dance?

A. We're starting off with the definitive Native American snack food: popcorn. An amuse- bouche of a spicy popcorn with sage, chile pepper, a taster with a teeny shot of very good tequila, smoked wild-caught salmon with snake root . and a mixed grill of bison tenderloin with a juniper berry and sage, quail, sautéed autumn cholla buds and a sunchoke mash. It is going to be fun.

Chef at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino event

Marking Native American Heritage Month, on Nov. 11 Loretta Barrett Oden will prepare an indigenous foods dinner at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino's Dream Dance Steak restaurant.

Dinner, which includes a reception beginning at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m., will be $85 per person.

For reservations, call (414) 847-7883.

About Kristine M. Kierzek

Kristine M. Kierzek is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer. She regularly writes Chef Chat and Fork. Spoon. Life. columns for Fresh.


Native American chef shares indigenous culinary traditions

A member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma, Loretta Barrett Oden's earliest memories revolve around being in the kitchen.

Still, she came to professional cooking later in life, well after she'd raised a family and her children were on their own. An empty nester traveling in California and the Southwest, she was hard-pressed to find Native American foodways.

The more she looked, the less she saw. It became her turning point.

Working with her son Clay in the early 1990s, she opened the Corn Dance Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M. It was the first restaurant in the country to focus on foods indigenous to the Americas. Her son passed away at 38, and after nearly a decade the cafe closed. Oden emerged with an even stronger commitment to preserving indigenous foods and traditions.

Gathering recipes through oral histories and travel, the 72-year-old has made it her mission to find recipes, track trade routes and spread knowledge of indigenous foods across the Americas. Sharing Native American history through cooking, Oden sees food as her most powerful educational tool.

"The food history of the Americas is my all-consuming passion," says Oden. "When people have their mouth full of food, they'll listen."

Q.What put you on the path of pursuing Native American food histories and indigenous foods?

A. I got married, raised my kids in Oklahoma, but not on the reservation. Late in life there was a change of circumstances. After my two boys were in college and grown. I embarked upon a grand adventure.

I traveled and noticed wherever I go, I see nothing that represents Native American foodways &mdash except fry bread and tacos, of course. It set me on a track of investigating. What did we eat and what food history do we have?

Q.What were you most surprised to learn?

A. When I began delving into it extensively, I was just blown away. One of the books I read that kind of set me on this path was a book called "Indian Givers" by Jack Weatherford at Macalester College in Minnesota. I was so taken by the history of the food and the political ramifications. Of course, I got into food thinking it was the least political thing, but it turned out to be very different.

Think about how very many foods we eat around the world today that are indigenous to somewhere in the Americas. Whoa. So I really began investigating, going from reservation to reservation. I was looking at cooking methods. Then it dawned on me that our food in its regionality is as diverse as we are as Indian people.

Q.What differences did you note regionally?

A. We think Indians are Indians. Well, no. We are very distinct groups of ethnic people, and in each area of our original homelands was this very unique food that the creator put in that place for our sustenance. Think fiddlehead ferns and salmon in the Northwest, corn from Mexico.

Q.What drives you to keep looking for stories and recipes?

A. I do not want to go to my grave as an Indian chef who cooked fry bread. Many tribes and our groups of people do. I do not want our cuisine to be defined by fry bread.

It is such a rich, delicious, varied cuisine that rivals anything from France, Italy or anywhere else on the planet. There really is such a thing as Native American cuisine. The cuisine doesn't fit people's ideas, but we do have a very distinct native cuisine.

Q.What can we learn from the history of these Native American foodways?

A. What I try to do with my food is to point out the diversity of foods indigenous to the Americas. Through that food, I hope to enlighten people or heighten people's awareness of native peoples.

It is as different as a German from Italian, different languages, different everything. It is something I think needs to be taught a little more seriously in our schools. I have six grandkids. We're still having land re-enactments and kids dressing up as Indians and Pilgrims in elementary school like I did when I was in school.

Sharing food, sharing the table is the best way to get to know a people. My food is a kinder, gentler way of educating people.

Q.How do you determine recipes to pursue? How do you create an indigenous menu?

A. Reading and traveling. We're talking about 500 nations just in North America alone. My ingredient list stretches to Tierra del Fuego. I consider everything that was there pre-contact (with Western Europeans) as fodder for my menus.

I've done a lot of mixing and matching, I may take the quinoa from Bolivia and Peru and mix it with wild rice from Ojibwe. It is a huge challenge. That's why you don't see very many cookbooks out there. It is certainly open to interpretation, because we were and pretty much, and still are, an oral tradition people.

Q.How do you define indigenous foods?

A. My own definition, created with my son Clay, who worked at my side for all the years in Santa Fe before he passed away, we literally would pick an ingredient.

Say I wanted to do something with ginger. We'd ask, is this indigenous? The ginger root is not indigenous, but there is a substitute, a wild option called different things by different tribes, snake root.

Q.Fry bread is not indigenous despite most people's association with Native American cooking?

A. It is not in any way indigenous. It is a product of the government commodities program when they relocated people from their homelands.

We have huge debates about fry bread in Indian country today. It is traditional only in the sense that maybe traditions are built as you go along. But especially some of the younger chefs and native people I work with look at it as a survival food, and it absolutely was.

It was all that a lot of people had to eat during those times. You'd go pick up your commodities and you got a 50-pound bag of white wheat flour, a chunk of lard, maybe a few beans, but there is very little in the program even today that is of nutritional value.

Fry bread is what the women were creative enough to come up with to fill hungry bellies. Fry bread traveled through the pow-wow circuit and became ubiquitous.

Q.What are some foods we may see on the menu for the dinner at Dream Dance?

A. We're starting off with the definitive Native American snack food: popcorn. An amuse- bouche of a spicy popcorn with sage, chile pepper, a taster with a teeny shot of very good tequila, smoked wild-caught salmon with snake root . and a mixed grill of bison tenderloin with a juniper berry and sage, quail, sautéed autumn cholla buds and a sunchoke mash. It is going to be fun.

Chef at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino event

Marking Native American Heritage Month, on Nov. 11 Loretta Barrett Oden will prepare an indigenous foods dinner at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino's Dream Dance Steak restaurant.

Dinner, which includes a reception beginning at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m., will be $85 per person.

For reservations, call (414) 847-7883.

About Kristine M. Kierzek

Kristine M. Kierzek is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer. She regularly writes Chef Chat and Fork. Spoon. Life. columns for Fresh.


Native American chef shares indigenous culinary traditions

A member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma, Loretta Barrett Oden's earliest memories revolve around being in the kitchen.

Still, she came to professional cooking later in life, well after she'd raised a family and her children were on their own. An empty nester traveling in California and the Southwest, she was hard-pressed to find Native American foodways.

The more she looked, the less she saw. It became her turning point.

Working with her son Clay in the early 1990s, she opened the Corn Dance Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M. It was the first restaurant in the country to focus on foods indigenous to the Americas. Her son passed away at 38, and after nearly a decade the cafe closed. Oden emerged with an even stronger commitment to preserving indigenous foods and traditions.

Gathering recipes through oral histories and travel, the 72-year-old has made it her mission to find recipes, track trade routes and spread knowledge of indigenous foods across the Americas. Sharing Native American history through cooking, Oden sees food as her most powerful educational tool.

"The food history of the Americas is my all-consuming passion," says Oden. "When people have their mouth full of food, they'll listen."

Q.What put you on the path of pursuing Native American food histories and indigenous foods?

A. I got married, raised my kids in Oklahoma, but not on the reservation. Late in life there was a change of circumstances. After my two boys were in college and grown. I embarked upon a grand adventure.

I traveled and noticed wherever I go, I see nothing that represents Native American foodways &mdash except fry bread and tacos, of course. It set me on a track of investigating. What did we eat and what food history do we have?

Q.What were you most surprised to learn?

A. When I began delving into it extensively, I was just blown away. One of the books I read that kind of set me on this path was a book called "Indian Givers" by Jack Weatherford at Macalester College in Minnesota. I was so taken by the history of the food and the political ramifications. Of course, I got into food thinking it was the least political thing, but it turned out to be very different.

Think about how very many foods we eat around the world today that are indigenous to somewhere in the Americas. Whoa. So I really began investigating, going from reservation to reservation. I was looking at cooking methods. Then it dawned on me that our food in its regionality is as diverse as we are as Indian people.

Q.What differences did you note regionally?

A. We think Indians are Indians. Well, no. We are very distinct groups of ethnic people, and in each area of our original homelands was this very unique food that the creator put in that place for our sustenance. Think fiddlehead ferns and salmon in the Northwest, corn from Mexico.

Q.What drives you to keep looking for stories and recipes?

A. I do not want to go to my grave as an Indian chef who cooked fry bread. Many tribes and our groups of people do. I do not want our cuisine to be defined by fry bread.

It is such a rich, delicious, varied cuisine that rivals anything from France, Italy or anywhere else on the planet. There really is such a thing as Native American cuisine. The cuisine doesn't fit people's ideas, but we do have a very distinct native cuisine.

Q.What can we learn from the history of these Native American foodways?

A. What I try to do with my food is to point out the diversity of foods indigenous to the Americas. Through that food, I hope to enlighten people or heighten people's awareness of native peoples.

It is as different as a German from Italian, different languages, different everything. It is something I think needs to be taught a little more seriously in our schools. I have six grandkids. We're still having land re-enactments and kids dressing up as Indians and Pilgrims in elementary school like I did when I was in school.

Sharing food, sharing the table is the best way to get to know a people. My food is a kinder, gentler way of educating people.

Q.How do you determine recipes to pursue? How do you create an indigenous menu?

A. Reading and traveling. We're talking about 500 nations just in North America alone. My ingredient list stretches to Tierra del Fuego. I consider everything that was there pre-contact (with Western Europeans) as fodder for my menus.

I've done a lot of mixing and matching, I may take the quinoa from Bolivia and Peru and mix it with wild rice from Ojibwe. It is a huge challenge. That's why you don't see very many cookbooks out there. It is certainly open to interpretation, because we were and pretty much, and still are, an oral tradition people.

Q.How do you define indigenous foods?

A. My own definition, created with my son Clay, who worked at my side for all the years in Santa Fe before he passed away, we literally would pick an ingredient.

Say I wanted to do something with ginger. We'd ask, is this indigenous? The ginger root is not indigenous, but there is a substitute, a wild option called different things by different tribes, snake root.

Q.Fry bread is not indigenous despite most people's association with Native American cooking?

A. It is not in any way indigenous. It is a product of the government commodities program when they relocated people from their homelands.

We have huge debates about fry bread in Indian country today. It is traditional only in the sense that maybe traditions are built as you go along. But especially some of the younger chefs and native people I work with look at it as a survival food, and it absolutely was.

It was all that a lot of people had to eat during those times. You'd go pick up your commodities and you got a 50-pound bag of white wheat flour, a chunk of lard, maybe a few beans, but there is very little in the program even today that is of nutritional value.

Fry bread is what the women were creative enough to come up with to fill hungry bellies. Fry bread traveled through the pow-wow circuit and became ubiquitous.

Q.What are some foods we may see on the menu for the dinner at Dream Dance?

A. We're starting off with the definitive Native American snack food: popcorn. An amuse- bouche of a spicy popcorn with sage, chile pepper, a taster with a teeny shot of very good tequila, smoked wild-caught salmon with snake root . and a mixed grill of bison tenderloin with a juniper berry and sage, quail, sautéed autumn cholla buds and a sunchoke mash. It is going to be fun.

Chef at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino event

Marking Native American Heritage Month, on Nov. 11 Loretta Barrett Oden will prepare an indigenous foods dinner at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino's Dream Dance Steak restaurant.

Dinner, which includes a reception beginning at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m., will be $85 per person.

For reservations, call (414) 847-7883.

About Kristine M. Kierzek

Kristine M. Kierzek is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer. She regularly writes Chef Chat and Fork. Spoon. Life. columns for Fresh.


Native American chef shares indigenous culinary traditions

A member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma, Loretta Barrett Oden's earliest memories revolve around being in the kitchen.

Still, she came to professional cooking later in life, well after she'd raised a family and her children were on their own. An empty nester traveling in California and the Southwest, she was hard-pressed to find Native American foodways.

The more she looked, the less she saw. It became her turning point.

Working with her son Clay in the early 1990s, she opened the Corn Dance Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M. It was the first restaurant in the country to focus on foods indigenous to the Americas. Her son passed away at 38, and after nearly a decade the cafe closed. Oden emerged with an even stronger commitment to preserving indigenous foods and traditions.

Gathering recipes through oral histories and travel, the 72-year-old has made it her mission to find recipes, track trade routes and spread knowledge of indigenous foods across the Americas. Sharing Native American history through cooking, Oden sees food as her most powerful educational tool.

"The food history of the Americas is my all-consuming passion," says Oden. "When people have their mouth full of food, they'll listen."

Q.What put you on the path of pursuing Native American food histories and indigenous foods?

A. I got married, raised my kids in Oklahoma, but not on the reservation. Late in life there was a change of circumstances. After my two boys were in college and grown. I embarked upon a grand adventure.

I traveled and noticed wherever I go, I see nothing that represents Native American foodways &mdash except fry bread and tacos, of course. It set me on a track of investigating. What did we eat and what food history do we have?

Q.What were you most surprised to learn?

A. When I began delving into it extensively, I was just blown away. One of the books I read that kind of set me on this path was a book called "Indian Givers" by Jack Weatherford at Macalester College in Minnesota. I was so taken by the history of the food and the political ramifications. Of course, I got into food thinking it was the least political thing, but it turned out to be very different.

Think about how very many foods we eat around the world today that are indigenous to somewhere in the Americas. Whoa. So I really began investigating, going from reservation to reservation. I was looking at cooking methods. Then it dawned on me that our food in its regionality is as diverse as we are as Indian people.

Q.What differences did you note regionally?

A. We think Indians are Indians. Well, no. We are very distinct groups of ethnic people, and in each area of our original homelands was this very unique food that the creator put in that place for our sustenance. Think fiddlehead ferns and salmon in the Northwest, corn from Mexico.

Q.What drives you to keep looking for stories and recipes?

A. I do not want to go to my grave as an Indian chef who cooked fry bread. Many tribes and our groups of people do. I do not want our cuisine to be defined by fry bread.

It is such a rich, delicious, varied cuisine that rivals anything from France, Italy or anywhere else on the planet. There really is such a thing as Native American cuisine. The cuisine doesn't fit people's ideas, but we do have a very distinct native cuisine.

Q.What can we learn from the history of these Native American foodways?

A. What I try to do with my food is to point out the diversity of foods indigenous to the Americas. Through that food, I hope to enlighten people or heighten people's awareness of native peoples.

It is as different as a German from Italian, different languages, different everything. It is something I think needs to be taught a little more seriously in our schools. I have six grandkids. We're still having land re-enactments and kids dressing up as Indians and Pilgrims in elementary school like I did when I was in school.

Sharing food, sharing the table is the best way to get to know a people. My food is a kinder, gentler way of educating people.

Q.How do you determine recipes to pursue? How do you create an indigenous menu?

A. Reading and traveling. We're talking about 500 nations just in North America alone. My ingredient list stretches to Tierra del Fuego. I consider everything that was there pre-contact (with Western Europeans) as fodder for my menus.

I've done a lot of mixing and matching, I may take the quinoa from Bolivia and Peru and mix it with wild rice from Ojibwe. It is a huge challenge. That's why you don't see very many cookbooks out there. It is certainly open to interpretation, because we were and pretty much, and still are, an oral tradition people.

Q.How do you define indigenous foods?

A. My own definition, created with my son Clay, who worked at my side for all the years in Santa Fe before he passed away, we literally would pick an ingredient.

Say I wanted to do something with ginger. We'd ask, is this indigenous? The ginger root is not indigenous, but there is a substitute, a wild option called different things by different tribes, snake root.

Q.Fry bread is not indigenous despite most people's association with Native American cooking?

A. It is not in any way indigenous. It is a product of the government commodities program when they relocated people from their homelands.

We have huge debates about fry bread in Indian country today. It is traditional only in the sense that maybe traditions are built as you go along. But especially some of the younger chefs and native people I work with look at it as a survival food, and it absolutely was.

It was all that a lot of people had to eat during those times. You'd go pick up your commodities and you got a 50-pound bag of white wheat flour, a chunk of lard, maybe a few beans, but there is very little in the program even today that is of nutritional value.

Fry bread is what the women were creative enough to come up with to fill hungry bellies. Fry bread traveled through the pow-wow circuit and became ubiquitous.

Q.What are some foods we may see on the menu for the dinner at Dream Dance?

A. We're starting off with the definitive Native American snack food: popcorn. An amuse- bouche of a spicy popcorn with sage, chile pepper, a taster with a teeny shot of very good tequila, smoked wild-caught salmon with snake root . and a mixed grill of bison tenderloin with a juniper berry and sage, quail, sautéed autumn cholla buds and a sunchoke mash. It is going to be fun.

Chef at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino event

Marking Native American Heritage Month, on Nov. 11 Loretta Barrett Oden will prepare an indigenous foods dinner at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino's Dream Dance Steak restaurant.

Dinner, which includes a reception beginning at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m., will be $85 per person.

For reservations, call (414) 847-7883.

About Kristine M. Kierzek

Kristine M. Kierzek is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer. She regularly writes Chef Chat and Fork. Spoon. Life. columns for Fresh.


Native American chef shares indigenous culinary traditions

A member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma, Loretta Barrett Oden's earliest memories revolve around being in the kitchen.

Still, she came to professional cooking later in life, well after she'd raised a family and her children were on their own. An empty nester traveling in California and the Southwest, she was hard-pressed to find Native American foodways.

The more she looked, the less she saw. It became her turning point.

Working with her son Clay in the early 1990s, she opened the Corn Dance Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M. It was the first restaurant in the country to focus on foods indigenous to the Americas. Her son passed away at 38, and after nearly a decade the cafe closed. Oden emerged with an even stronger commitment to preserving indigenous foods and traditions.

Gathering recipes through oral histories and travel, the 72-year-old has made it her mission to find recipes, track trade routes and spread knowledge of indigenous foods across the Americas. Sharing Native American history through cooking, Oden sees food as her most powerful educational tool.

"The food history of the Americas is my all-consuming passion," says Oden. "When people have their mouth full of food, they'll listen."

Q.What put you on the path of pursuing Native American food histories and indigenous foods?

A. I got married, raised my kids in Oklahoma, but not on the reservation. Late in life there was a change of circumstances. After my two boys were in college and grown. I embarked upon a grand adventure.

I traveled and noticed wherever I go, I see nothing that represents Native American foodways &mdash except fry bread and tacos, of course. It set me on a track of investigating. What did we eat and what food history do we have?

Q.What were you most surprised to learn?

A. When I began delving into it extensively, I was just blown away. One of the books I read that kind of set me on this path was a book called "Indian Givers" by Jack Weatherford at Macalester College in Minnesota. I was so taken by the history of the food and the political ramifications. Of course, I got into food thinking it was the least political thing, but it turned out to be very different.

Think about how very many foods we eat around the world today that are indigenous to somewhere in the Americas. Whoa. So I really began investigating, going from reservation to reservation. I was looking at cooking methods. Then it dawned on me that our food in its regionality is as diverse as we are as Indian people.

Q.What differences did you note regionally?

A. We think Indians are Indians. Well, no. We are very distinct groups of ethnic people, and in each area of our original homelands was this very unique food that the creator put in that place for our sustenance. Think fiddlehead ferns and salmon in the Northwest, corn from Mexico.

Q.What drives you to keep looking for stories and recipes?

A. I do not want to go to my grave as an Indian chef who cooked fry bread. Many tribes and our groups of people do. I do not want our cuisine to be defined by fry bread.

It is such a rich, delicious, varied cuisine that rivals anything from France, Italy or anywhere else on the planet. There really is such a thing as Native American cuisine. The cuisine doesn't fit people's ideas, but we do have a very distinct native cuisine.

Q.What can we learn from the history of these Native American foodways?

A. What I try to do with my food is to point out the diversity of foods indigenous to the Americas. Through that food, I hope to enlighten people or heighten people's awareness of native peoples.

It is as different as a German from Italian, different languages, different everything. It is something I think needs to be taught a little more seriously in our schools. I have six grandkids. We're still having land re-enactments and kids dressing up as Indians and Pilgrims in elementary school like I did when I was in school.

Sharing food, sharing the table is the best way to get to know a people. My food is a kinder, gentler way of educating people.

Q.How do you determine recipes to pursue? How do you create an indigenous menu?

A. Reading and traveling. We're talking about 500 nations just in North America alone. My ingredient list stretches to Tierra del Fuego. I consider everything that was there pre-contact (with Western Europeans) as fodder for my menus.

I've done a lot of mixing and matching, I may take the quinoa from Bolivia and Peru and mix it with wild rice from Ojibwe. It is a huge challenge. That's why you don't see very many cookbooks out there. It is certainly open to interpretation, because we were and pretty much, and still are, an oral tradition people.

Q.How do you define indigenous foods?

A. My own definition, created with my son Clay, who worked at my side for all the years in Santa Fe before he passed away, we literally would pick an ingredient.

Say I wanted to do something with ginger. We'd ask, is this indigenous? The ginger root is not indigenous, but there is a substitute, a wild option called different things by different tribes, snake root.

Q.Fry bread is not indigenous despite most people's association with Native American cooking?

A. It is not in any way indigenous. It is a product of the government commodities program when they relocated people from their homelands.

We have huge debates about fry bread in Indian country today. It is traditional only in the sense that maybe traditions are built as you go along. But especially some of the younger chefs and native people I work with look at it as a survival food, and it absolutely was.

It was all that a lot of people had to eat during those times. You'd go pick up your commodities and you got a 50-pound bag of white wheat flour, a chunk of lard, maybe a few beans, but there is very little in the program even today that is of nutritional value.

Fry bread is what the women were creative enough to come up with to fill hungry bellies. Fry bread traveled through the pow-wow circuit and became ubiquitous.

Q.What are some foods we may see on the menu for the dinner at Dream Dance?

A. We're starting off with the definitive Native American snack food: popcorn. An amuse- bouche of a spicy popcorn with sage, chile pepper, a taster with a teeny shot of very good tequila, smoked wild-caught salmon with snake root . and a mixed grill of bison tenderloin with a juniper berry and sage, quail, sautéed autumn cholla buds and a sunchoke mash. It is going to be fun.

Chef at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino event

Marking Native American Heritage Month, on Nov. 11 Loretta Barrett Oden will prepare an indigenous foods dinner at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino's Dream Dance Steak restaurant.

Dinner, which includes a reception beginning at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m., will be $85 per person.

For reservations, call (414) 847-7883.

About Kristine M. Kierzek

Kristine M. Kierzek is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer. She regularly writes Chef Chat and Fork. Spoon. Life. columns for Fresh.


Native American chef shares indigenous culinary traditions

A member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma, Loretta Barrett Oden's earliest memories revolve around being in the kitchen.

Still, she came to professional cooking later in life, well after she'd raised a family and her children were on their own. An empty nester traveling in California and the Southwest, she was hard-pressed to find Native American foodways.

The more she looked, the less she saw. It became her turning point.

Working with her son Clay in the early 1990s, she opened the Corn Dance Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M. It was the first restaurant in the country to focus on foods indigenous to the Americas. Her son passed away at 38, and after nearly a decade the cafe closed. Oden emerged with an even stronger commitment to preserving indigenous foods and traditions.

Gathering recipes through oral histories and travel, the 72-year-old has made it her mission to find recipes, track trade routes and spread knowledge of indigenous foods across the Americas. Sharing Native American history through cooking, Oden sees food as her most powerful educational tool.

"The food history of the Americas is my all-consuming passion," says Oden. "When people have their mouth full of food, they'll listen."

Q.What put you on the path of pursuing Native American food histories and indigenous foods?

A. I got married, raised my kids in Oklahoma, but not on the reservation. Late in life there was a change of circumstances. After my two boys were in college and grown. I embarked upon a grand adventure.

I traveled and noticed wherever I go, I see nothing that represents Native American foodways &mdash except fry bread and tacos, of course. It set me on a track of investigating. What did we eat and what food history do we have?

Q.What were you most surprised to learn?

A. When I began delving into it extensively, I was just blown away. One of the books I read that kind of set me on this path was a book called "Indian Givers" by Jack Weatherford at Macalester College in Minnesota. I was so taken by the history of the food and the political ramifications. Of course, I got into food thinking it was the least political thing, but it turned out to be very different.

Think about how very many foods we eat around the world today that are indigenous to somewhere in the Americas. Whoa. So I really began investigating, going from reservation to reservation. I was looking at cooking methods. Then it dawned on me that our food in its regionality is as diverse as we are as Indian people.

Q.What differences did you note regionally?

A. We think Indians are Indians. Well, no. We are very distinct groups of ethnic people, and in each area of our original homelands was this very unique food that the creator put in that place for our sustenance. Think fiddlehead ferns and salmon in the Northwest, corn from Mexico.

Q.What drives you to keep looking for stories and recipes?

A. I do not want to go to my grave as an Indian chef who cooked fry bread. Many tribes and our groups of people do. I do not want our cuisine to be defined by fry bread.

It is such a rich, delicious, varied cuisine that rivals anything from France, Italy or anywhere else on the planet. There really is such a thing as Native American cuisine. The cuisine doesn't fit people's ideas, but we do have a very distinct native cuisine.

Q.What can we learn from the history of these Native American foodways?

A. What I try to do with my food is to point out the diversity of foods indigenous to the Americas. Through that food, I hope to enlighten people or heighten people's awareness of native peoples.

It is as different as a German from Italian, different languages, different everything. It is something I think needs to be taught a little more seriously in our schools. I have six grandkids. We're still having land re-enactments and kids dressing up as Indians and Pilgrims in elementary school like I did when I was in school.

Sharing food, sharing the table is the best way to get to know a people. My food is a kinder, gentler way of educating people.

Q.How do you determine recipes to pursue? How do you create an indigenous menu?

A. Reading and traveling. We're talking about 500 nations just in North America alone. My ingredient list stretches to Tierra del Fuego. I consider everything that was there pre-contact (with Western Europeans) as fodder for my menus.

I've done a lot of mixing and matching, I may take the quinoa from Bolivia and Peru and mix it with wild rice from Ojibwe. It is a huge challenge. That's why you don't see very many cookbooks out there. It is certainly open to interpretation, because we were and pretty much, and still are, an oral tradition people.

Q.How do you define indigenous foods?

A. My own definition, created with my son Clay, who worked at my side for all the years in Santa Fe before he passed away, we literally would pick an ingredient.

Say I wanted to do something with ginger. We'd ask, is this indigenous? The ginger root is not indigenous, but there is a substitute, a wild option called different things by different tribes, snake root.

Q.Fry bread is not indigenous despite most people's association with Native American cooking?

A. It is not in any way indigenous. It is a product of the government commodities program when they relocated people from their homelands.

We have huge debates about fry bread in Indian country today. It is traditional only in the sense that maybe traditions are built as you go along. But especially some of the younger chefs and native people I work with look at it as a survival food, and it absolutely was.

It was all that a lot of people had to eat during those times. You'd go pick up your commodities and you got a 50-pound bag of white wheat flour, a chunk of lard, maybe a few beans, but there is very little in the program even today that is of nutritional value.

Fry bread is what the women were creative enough to come up with to fill hungry bellies. Fry bread traveled through the pow-wow circuit and became ubiquitous.

Q.What are some foods we may see on the menu for the dinner at Dream Dance?

A. We're starting off with the definitive Native American snack food: popcorn. An amuse- bouche of a spicy popcorn with sage, chile pepper, a taster with a teeny shot of very good tequila, smoked wild-caught salmon with snake root . and a mixed grill of bison tenderloin with a juniper berry and sage, quail, sautéed autumn cholla buds and a sunchoke mash. It is going to be fun.

Chef at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino event

Marking Native American Heritage Month, on Nov. 11 Loretta Barrett Oden will prepare an indigenous foods dinner at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino's Dream Dance Steak restaurant.

Dinner, which includes a reception beginning at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m., will be $85 per person.

For reservations, call (414) 847-7883.

About Kristine M. Kierzek

Kristine M. Kierzek is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer. She regularly writes Chef Chat and Fork. Spoon. Life. columns for Fresh.


Native American chef shares indigenous culinary traditions

A member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma, Loretta Barrett Oden's earliest memories revolve around being in the kitchen.

Still, she came to professional cooking later in life, well after she'd raised a family and her children were on their own. An empty nester traveling in California and the Southwest, she was hard-pressed to find Native American foodways.

The more she looked, the less she saw. It became her turning point.

Working with her son Clay in the early 1990s, she opened the Corn Dance Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M. It was the first restaurant in the country to focus on foods indigenous to the Americas. Her son passed away at 38, and after nearly a decade the cafe closed. Oden emerged with an even stronger commitment to preserving indigenous foods and traditions.

Gathering recipes through oral histories and travel, the 72-year-old has made it her mission to find recipes, track trade routes and spread knowledge of indigenous foods across the Americas. Sharing Native American history through cooking, Oden sees food as her most powerful educational tool.

"The food history of the Americas is my all-consuming passion," says Oden. "When people have their mouth full of food, they'll listen."

Q.What put you on the path of pursuing Native American food histories and indigenous foods?

A. I got married, raised my kids in Oklahoma, but not on the reservation. Late in life there was a change of circumstances. After my two boys were in college and grown. I embarked upon a grand adventure.

I traveled and noticed wherever I go, I see nothing that represents Native American foodways &mdash except fry bread and tacos, of course. It set me on a track of investigating. What did we eat and what food history do we have?

Q.What were you most surprised to learn?

A. When I began delving into it extensively, I was just blown away. One of the books I read that kind of set me on this path was a book called "Indian Givers" by Jack Weatherford at Macalester College in Minnesota. I was so taken by the history of the food and the political ramifications. Of course, I got into food thinking it was the least political thing, but it turned out to be very different.

Think about how very many foods we eat around the world today that are indigenous to somewhere in the Americas. Whoa. So I really began investigating, going from reservation to reservation. I was looking at cooking methods. Then it dawned on me that our food in its regionality is as diverse as we are as Indian people.

Q.What differences did you note regionally?

A. We think Indians are Indians. Well, no. We are very distinct groups of ethnic people, and in each area of our original homelands was this very unique food that the creator put in that place for our sustenance. Think fiddlehead ferns and salmon in the Northwest, corn from Mexico.

Q.What drives you to keep looking for stories and recipes?

A. I do not want to go to my grave as an Indian chef who cooked fry bread. Many tribes and our groups of people do. I do not want our cuisine to be defined by fry bread.

It is such a rich, delicious, varied cuisine that rivals anything from France, Italy or anywhere else on the planet. There really is such a thing as Native American cuisine. The cuisine doesn't fit people's ideas, but we do have a very distinct native cuisine.

Q.What can we learn from the history of these Native American foodways?

A. What I try to do with my food is to point out the diversity of foods indigenous to the Americas. Through that food, I hope to enlighten people or heighten people's awareness of native peoples.

It is as different as a German from Italian, different languages, different everything. It is something I think needs to be taught a little more seriously in our schools. I have six grandkids. We're still having land re-enactments and kids dressing up as Indians and Pilgrims in elementary school like I did when I was in school.

Sharing food, sharing the table is the best way to get to know a people. My food is a kinder, gentler way of educating people.

Q.How do you determine recipes to pursue? How do you create an indigenous menu?

A. Reading and traveling. We're talking about 500 nations just in North America alone. My ingredient list stretches to Tierra del Fuego. I consider everything that was there pre-contact (with Western Europeans) as fodder for my menus.

I've done a lot of mixing and matching, I may take the quinoa from Bolivia and Peru and mix it with wild rice from Ojibwe. It is a huge challenge. That's why you don't see very many cookbooks out there. It is certainly open to interpretation, because we were and pretty much, and still are, an oral tradition people.

Q.How do you define indigenous foods?

A. My own definition, created with my son Clay, who worked at my side for all the years in Santa Fe before he passed away, we literally would pick an ingredient.

Say I wanted to do something with ginger. We'd ask, is this indigenous? The ginger root is not indigenous, but there is a substitute, a wild option called different things by different tribes, snake root.

Q.Fry bread is not indigenous despite most people's association with Native American cooking?

A. It is not in any way indigenous. It is a product of the government commodities program when they relocated people from their homelands.

We have huge debates about fry bread in Indian country today. It is traditional only in the sense that maybe traditions are built as you go along. But especially some of the younger chefs and native people I work with look at it as a survival food, and it absolutely was.

It was all that a lot of people had to eat during those times. You'd go pick up your commodities and you got a 50-pound bag of white wheat flour, a chunk of lard, maybe a few beans, but there is very little in the program even today that is of nutritional value.

Fry bread is what the women were creative enough to come up with to fill hungry bellies. Fry bread traveled through the pow-wow circuit and became ubiquitous.

Q.What are some foods we may see on the menu for the dinner at Dream Dance?

A. We're starting off with the definitive Native American snack food: popcorn. An amuse- bouche of a spicy popcorn with sage, chile pepper, a taster with a teeny shot of very good tequila, smoked wild-caught salmon with snake root . and a mixed grill of bison tenderloin with a juniper berry and sage, quail, sautéed autumn cholla buds and a sunchoke mash. It is going to be fun.

Chef at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino event

Marking Native American Heritage Month, on Nov. 11 Loretta Barrett Oden will prepare an indigenous foods dinner at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino's Dream Dance Steak restaurant.

Dinner, which includes a reception beginning at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m., will be $85 per person.

For reservations, call (414) 847-7883.

About Kristine M. Kierzek

Kristine M. Kierzek is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer. She regularly writes Chef Chat and Fork. Spoon. Life. columns for Fresh.


Native American chef shares indigenous culinary traditions

A member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Oklahoma, Loretta Barrett Oden's earliest memories revolve around being in the kitchen.

Still, she came to professional cooking later in life, well after she'd raised a family and her children were on their own. An empty nester traveling in California and the Southwest, she was hard-pressed to find Native American foodways.

The more she looked, the less she saw. It became her turning point.

Working with her son Clay in the early 1990s, she opened the Corn Dance Cafe in Santa Fe, N.M. It was the first restaurant in the country to focus on foods indigenous to the Americas. Her son passed away at 38, and after nearly a decade the cafe closed. Oden emerged with an even stronger commitment to preserving indigenous foods and traditions.

Gathering recipes through oral histories and travel, the 72-year-old has made it her mission to find recipes, track trade routes and spread knowledge of indigenous foods across the Americas. Sharing Native American history through cooking, Oden sees food as her most powerful educational tool.

"The food history of the Americas is my all-consuming passion," says Oden. "When people have their mouth full of food, they'll listen."

Q.What put you on the path of pursuing Native American food histories and indigenous foods?

A. I got married, raised my kids in Oklahoma, but not on the reservation. Late in life there was a change of circumstances. After my two boys were in college and grown. I embarked upon a grand adventure.

I traveled and noticed wherever I go, I see nothing that represents Native American foodways &mdash except fry bread and tacos, of course. It set me on a track of investigating. What did we eat and what food history do we have?

Q.What were you most surprised to learn?

A. When I began delving into it extensively, I was just blown away. One of the books I read that kind of set me on this path was a book called "Indian Givers" by Jack Weatherford at Macalester College in Minnesota. I was so taken by the history of the food and the political ramifications. Of course, I got into food thinking it was the least political thing, but it turned out to be very different.

Think about how very many foods we eat around the world today that are indigenous to somewhere in the Americas. Whoa. So I really began investigating, going from reservation to reservation. I was looking at cooking methods. Then it dawned on me that our food in its regionality is as diverse as we are as Indian people.

Q.What differences did you note regionally?

A. We think Indians are Indians. Well, no. We are very distinct groups of ethnic people, and in each area of our original homelands was this very unique food that the creator put in that place for our sustenance. Think fiddlehead ferns and salmon in the Northwest, corn from Mexico.

Q.What drives you to keep looking for stories and recipes?

A. I do not want to go to my grave as an Indian chef who cooked fry bread. Many tribes and our groups of people do. I do not want our cuisine to be defined by fry bread.

It is such a rich, delicious, varied cuisine that rivals anything from France, Italy or anywhere else on the planet. There really is such a thing as Native American cuisine. The cuisine doesn't fit people's ideas, but we do have a very distinct native cuisine.

Q.What can we learn from the history of these Native American foodways?

A. What I try to do with my food is to point out the diversity of foods indigenous to the Americas. Through that food, I hope to enlighten people or heighten people's awareness of native peoples.

It is as different as a German from Italian, different languages, different everything. It is something I think needs to be taught a little more seriously in our schools. I have six grandkids. We're still having land re-enactments and kids dressing up as Indians and Pilgrims in elementary school like I did when I was in school.

Sharing food, sharing the table is the best way to get to know a people. My food is a kinder, gentler way of educating people.

Q.How do you determine recipes to pursue? How do you create an indigenous menu?

A. Reading and traveling. We're talking about 500 nations just in North America alone. My ingredient list stretches to Tierra del Fuego. I consider everything that was there pre-contact (with Western Europeans) as fodder for my menus.

I've done a lot of mixing and matching, I may take the quinoa from Bolivia and Peru and mix it with wild rice from Ojibwe. It is a huge challenge. That's why you don't see very many cookbooks out there. It is certainly open to interpretation, because we were and pretty much, and still are, an oral tradition people.

Q.How do you define indigenous foods?

A. My own definition, created with my son Clay, who worked at my side for all the years in Santa Fe before he passed away, we literally would pick an ingredient.

Say I wanted to do something with ginger. We'd ask, is this indigenous? The ginger root is not indigenous, but there is a substitute, a wild option called different things by different tribes, snake root.

Q.Fry bread is not indigenous despite most people's association with Native American cooking?

A. It is not in any way indigenous. It is a product of the government commodities program when they relocated people from their homelands.

We have huge debates about fry bread in Indian country today. It is traditional only in the sense that maybe traditions are built as you go along. But especially some of the younger chefs and native people I work with look at it as a survival food, and it absolutely was.

It was all that a lot of people had to eat during those times. You'd go pick up your commodities and you got a 50-pound bag of white wheat flour, a chunk of lard, maybe a few beans, but there is very little in the program even today that is of nutritional value.

Fry bread is what the women were creative enough to come up with to fill hungry bellies. Fry bread traveled through the pow-wow circuit and became ubiquitous.

Q.What are some foods we may see on the menu for the dinner at Dream Dance?

A. We're starting off with the definitive Native American snack food: popcorn. An amuse- bouche of a spicy popcorn with sage, chile pepper, a taster with a teeny shot of very good tequila, smoked wild-caught salmon with snake root . and a mixed grill of bison tenderloin with a juniper berry and sage, quail, sautéed autumn cholla buds and a sunchoke mash. It is going to be fun.

Chef at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino event

Marking Native American Heritage Month, on Nov. 11 Loretta Barrett Oden will prepare an indigenous foods dinner at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino's Dream Dance Steak restaurant.

Dinner, which includes a reception beginning at 5 p.m. followed by dinner at 5:30 p.m., will be $85 per person.

For reservations, call (414) 847-7883.

About Kristine M. Kierzek

Kristine M. Kierzek is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer. She regularly writes Chef Chat and Fork. Spoon. Life. columns for Fresh.