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Teaching Native American Foods to Students

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Teaching Native American Foods Recipes

We like to teach about Native American food history and native cuisine during the month of November. The month of November is Native American Heritage Month. We live near the Seneca Nation Reservation and we have quite a few Seneca students each year. This is how we honor them:

  1. Make fry bread! This recipe is something that is dear to many Native American ancestors. It is actually not a native food but was created after the native population was forced onto reservations and given food rations. The people created this delicious food with the measly rations they were portioned. It can be topped like a taco with meat, cheese, beans, sour cream or it can be offered as a sweet treat and topped with honey and powdered sugar!
Native American or Indian Fry Bread
With only a few ingredients, this is a fun recipe to make with your students.

Here is a recipe for fry bread:

2. Teach about the history of the food of Native Americans to pre-contact with Europeans to the present day. There are famous Native American chefs today that create beautiful dishes honoring their past and their present. One such chef is Brian Yazzie. He has a YouTube channel where he shows how he makes some of his delicious dishes with indigenous ingredients.

Native American Heritage Food History Lesson and Fry Bread Recipe

This is a no-prep lesson on Native American foods throughout time as well as a fry bread recipe

3. Show a YouTube video of Brian Yazzie making a 3 sisters side dish from scratch. Students can get a sense for how important it is for indigenous people to hold on to their heritage and cultural cuisine.

Cooking Indigenous Dishes

4. Lastly, make a 3 sisters rice bowl! The 3 sisters were some of the first and most important foods of the Native people. They were planted in a way that the 3 crops, beans, corn, and squash supported the growth of each other.

3 sisters Native American heritage meal with Culinary Arts high school classes
3 Sisters Rice Bowl
Here is our class’s attempts at making a 3 sisters rice bowl in honor of our Native heritage.

What are the 3 Sisters Crops?

The technique of growing the 3 sisters crops dates back thousands of years. It is known as “companion planting”. The maize and beans are planted together in small mound and the squash is planted between the mounds. The stalk of the maize or corn acts as a trellis for the growing beans and they protect the corn in turn. The wide, low leaves of the squash shade the ground and keep the soil moist which helps the beans and corn thrive. It really is an amazing system!

Would you like more ideas for teaching global foods? Check out our blog post about global foods project ideas!

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