Planners of UNC Pembroke’s 4th Annual Honoring Native Foodways reached out to the university and surrounding community and found some good, healthy eats on November 15.
The event pays tribute to traditional and local Native American cuisine, much of it grown or gathered locally. Approximately 250 hungry diners enjoyed dishes like deer hash, sweet potato pudding, squash muffins and lots of collards that were prepared in five or six different ways.
A high school group from Wilmington put the event on their campus tour. Hoggard High School teacher Mick Jupena was filling his plate and sampling at the same time.
“I’m from western Pennsylvania, and I’m used to ethnic foods,” he said. “But I’ve never had this kind of food. It’s really good.”
Biology Professor David Zeigler waited patiently in a long line. “My favorite? Anything with sweet potatoes,” he smiled.
Honoring Native Foodways committee member Dr. Jayne Haladay was pleased with the record turnout.
“Every year, we wonder if anyone will come, but it just gets more popular,” said Dr. Halday, who teaches in UNCP’s Department of American Indian Studies, which sponsors the event. “The goal is to show off local food that is cooked in healthy ways.
“And if you have not tasted the deer hash, get some,” she said. “One of my students prepared it.”
Jennifer Dorman was spooning out deer hash among offerings of deer jerky, buffalo meatballs and Nanoomin, a wild rice and venison dish. She was serving up an all-local dish.
“I slow cooked it in a crockpot,” Dorman said. “My cousin shot the deer in Bladen County. It was an eight-point buck.”
In welcoming guests, Sarah Carter, wife of UNCP’s chancellor, described herself as the university’s “biggest booster and volunteer.” True to her word, she served home-baked bread with honey from hives that are located on campus.
There were many student and community volunteers including a contingent from Deep Branch Baptist Church and Lumbee and Tuscarora Tribes.
A recipe book touting healthy foods got help from Janice Fields, a nutritionist with the Robeson County Cooperative Extension Service.
“I’m excited to be back again this year,” Fields said. “I prepared healthy collards seasoned with smoked turkey breast and cooked in olive oil, onions and low-fat chicken stock.
“Next year, I plan to demonstrate how to mill whole grains,” she said.
Students and community members gave presentations on Native foods and stories. Payton Locklear, a student, delivered an ode to a local favorite.
“Growing up here, of all of foods on the table, collards sandwiches are the best,” Locklear said. “You’ll be surprised to know that this is the collard capital of the world, and Maxton had a collard festival last week.”
On this day, Pembroke was the capital of Native Foodways.