Event Summary – Red Lake Food Summit

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Red Lake

Following successful past regional food summits at Oneida and, most recently, Gun Lake Pottawatomi’s Jijak Camp this past April, Red Lake volunteered the Fall 2016 Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit in conjunction with the Intertribal Agriculture Council from September 16-17 with pre-summit workshops on the 14th and 15th.

The pre-summit workshops featured training on federal vendor, organic, and GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) certifications before offering opportunity to tour some of Red Lake’s operations, like the Red Lake Fisheries and Red Lake Nation Foods warehouse.

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Two new Tribal facilities, the Tribal administration building and the Red Lake Nation College that served as home base for the summit, provided an amazing setting, directly on the shores of Red Lake, with the directly adjacent powwow grounds offering excellent outdoor gathering, cooking, and instructional space.  Friday morning workshops included 1)  “Harvesting from the Forest” that covered in-depth foraging and fall preparations for spring tree tapping season and 2) “Soil Health” led by USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and University of Minnesota-Crookston.

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Behind-the-scenes efforts on Friday morning also included a partnership with Red Lake’s Elderly Nutrition Program (ENP) program, which was able to serve lunch featuring buffalo stew donated by the Intertribal Buffalo Council (ITBC) and homemade biscuits prepared by the Onondaga Nation chefs.

Similar to the Spring 2016 Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit at Jijak, this event featured Native chefs preparing Indigenous foods for all meals.  Brian Yazzie and Tashia Hart from the Sioux Chef led a team that also included Neftalí Duran, the Onondaga Nation, and students and instructors from United Tribes Technical College’s (UTTC) culinary program.

Friday afternoon workshops covered 1) “Grazing 101” with instruction from NRCS, Society for Range Management (SRM), and ITBC and 2) “Indigenous Seed Keeping” led by Rowen White and Zach Paige.

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Several vendors, including IAC’s Mobile Farmers Market, setup throughout the event, offering a variety of Indigenous foods and outreach on efforts relating to Tribal food and agriculture.

Saturday’s “Intertribal Foods Festival” combined continuing education with morning presentations before the event shifted outside to demonstrations and hands-on activities.  The Sioux Chef, Sean Sherman, highlighted the top Native chef lineup that served lunch featuring small plates  while hominy continued cooking in kettles, wild rice was traditionally finished, and whitefish smoked for hours.

Traditional botagens (the large pestle and mortar pictured above) seed cleaning were interspersed with a presentation from Sean Sherman, continued cooking, and a sapping talking circle complete with equipment demonstrations.  The clouds then cleared in mid-afternoon, providing a perfect setting for husking and braiding heirloom corn.

Partnership and support from the Red Lake Nation and its community members helped make the event so special and memorable.  Red Lake hunters contributed multiple deer, including the grilled steaks (above) and the Red Lake Local Food Initiative contributed an assortment of vegetables to compliment the walleye and whitefish donated by the Red Lake Fishery.  The Onondaga Nation further supplemented that fish with a huge cooler of New York fish.

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The Intertribal Agriculture Council offers a huge thank you to the Red Lake Nation and all of our teachers, chefs, sponsors, and participants.  We would specifically like to thank our sponsoring organizations, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, the NB3 Foundation, First Nations Development Institute, the Blanden Foundation, the Onondaga Nation, and NRCS.

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