Students gather to celebrate Indigenous food and culture

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For many people in America, Monday was Columbus Day. For others, this day was a grim reminder of the consequences of Columbus’ journey suffered by indigenous people in North America.

However, for the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, the week following Columbus day offered the perfect opportunity to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Week.

On Wednesday, the center decided the best way to unite the Native American community at IU and educate those who are not directly a part of this community would be through food. Specifically, through frybread.

“It’s a food people think of when they think of native food,” Director of the FNECC Nicky Belle said. “It’s traditional in the sense it has become ingrained in the culture.”

Frybread is a Native American food that originates from the time period in which tribes received flour rations from the government. At one point it was a necessity for survival, but now it is a cultural symbol for people who have grown up making it with their families.

Perhaps the most distinct feature of frybread is that there is no widely accepted “correct” method to making it.

Heather Williams, who demonstrated a way of making frybread at the event, uses her own ratio of flour, salt, baking soda and dry milk then adds a bit of sugar. On the other hand, Gaby Anderson’s family recipe doesn’t use any dairy product at all.

Though the prospect of eating frybread brought people to the FNECC Wednesday, the intent of the event was to bring about awareness of Native American cultures in the IU and Bloomington communities. In grad student Nayely Gonzalez’s view, connection to the non-native community is essential.

“It’s really important considering we are such a big university and community,” Gonzalez said. “There’s a lot we can learn form each other. The school tends to take over the whole town so we should be reaching out more to community.”

The FNECC has been hosting events since Monday to counter Columbus Day. Various areas of the country and organizations have began replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day. Belle stated Columbus Day is not recognized in the FNECC, and attendees of the event seemed to agree with this sentiment.

“I feel Columbus Day is completely unnecessary,” said freshman Sam Fluharty.“We shouldn’t celebrate — you could say — almost a genocide of people.”

The FNECC will continue Indigenous Peoples Week by offering counseling services on Thursday and Friday. The center will also be hosting several events throughout November, which is Native American Heritage Month. They will kick off the month-long celebration of heritage on Nov. 1 with a visit from Native American artist Steven Paul Judd.

But right now, of course, the question on everyone’s minds: what does frybread taste like?

Fluharty described the flavor with just one word: delicious.

Source: Indiana Daily Student