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Dec 14, 2006 02:50 PM

First Nations/Indigenous American Foods


My son's fourth grade class is celebrating "California Indian Day" on December 20th in Petaluma. I am one of the parent volunteers.

I am looking for simple recipes for Native American foods specific to the California area.

Taking a pass on "fry bread" and "Indian Tacos"

Any suggestions?

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  1. If you want real foods from pre-columbian times just think of the simplest way you can prepare any native food. Lots of steamed, grilled, and roasted stuff like fish and shellfish near the coast. Game birds like pheasant, etc. Deer, bear,. Also heavy foraging for wild edibles like burdock, cattail root, greens like young milkweed pods, mugwort, etc. and fruits of all kinds. I am not familiar with the exact southern west coast foods and tribes, but I could go on and on about plains and eastern tribes and their foods, and a little about south American.

    1. don't forget turkey or catfish!

      1. There is a website that I stumbled upon one day called nativetech. They have a section on food and recipes.

        You might find something there. They have divided recipes by region, which is nice.

        1 Reply
        1. re: tartetatin

          Most of the recipes on the Southwest ~ California recipe page call for ingredients that aren't native to this area.

          "California's abundant natural food resources provided ready access to a high protein diet of fish, acorns, small game, berries, insects, edible plants and roots ..."

          " ... the Sierra Miwok collected clover in the spring, seeds in the summer and mushrooms in the winter, with fruits and bulbs serving as their secondary foods. The Yurok fed largely on fresh salmon. Shellfish and sea mammals were popular with coastal dwellers, who harvested salt from seaweed. Grass seeds, grasshoppers, bees and worms were part of the regular Indian diet throughout much of the region. Delicacies included wood rat meat for the Cahuilla, salmon flies for the Wintu and Pandora moth chrysalises for the Northfork Mono. ... includes a few recipes like peppernut balls (to be eaten inside a thick bunch of sweet clover), mashed buckeyes and venison marinade."

        2. Up here in Canada, bannock is a traditional bread eaten by First Nations people. Don't know about California, though.

          How about Indian pudding?

          8 Replies
            1. re: FlavoursGal

              Bannock is a Scottish flat bread, typically made with oatmeal. Hard to get more Canadian than First Nations eating Scottish bread, eh?

              1. re: FlavoursGal

                Indian pudding was created by the British in Mass. in the 1600's They missed their rich puddings. Doesn't have much to do with Indians at all except that in the absence of wheat, they used Indian or corn meal as one of the ingredients. Native Americans didn't eat it.

                1. re: missclaudy

                  And California tribes didn't eat corn anyway.

                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I believe yes they did - at least along the Colorado River. And I dimly recall Sir Francis Drake encountering it when naming our state Nova Albion.

                    1. re: kare_raisu

                      Down around the Arizona border, probably so. I wasn't thinking of that part of the state.

                      I don't think Drake would have seen corn in what's now Marin County. The area was heavily forested and the climate's not very suitable. And I don't believe Northern California tribes practiced agriculture anyway.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        The ENTIRE Eastern US streching west to the Mississipi was densely covered with forest before 1607 -- do I need to use the squirrel anecdote? And the Iroqouis (sp) were notable for their maize.

                        1. re: kare_raisu

                          They practiced agriculture. The tribes in that area of California didn't.

              2. About a month ago we were lucky to stumble across a PBS marathon TV show called Seasoned with Spirit. The host (forgot her name) was herself a Native American Indian and each half hour episode was spent with a different tribe. The main focus was the foods they ate. One was in California. I believe that was the episode that focused on making flour and bread with acorns. It may have been more Northern California though.

                Great shows for those who like foraging.