The 3rd annual Honoring Native Foodways celebration at UNC Pembroke attracted a crowd of more than 200 on November 10. They were eager to dine on good eats prepared by local cooks.
“Yummo!” said student Amber Ward. “I can’t do collards, but the deer jerky and bison chili are great.
“I brought pumpkin bars,” Ward said. “The recipe? It’s a family secret.”
The event is part of Native American Heritage Month, and it celebrates local and Native American foods prepared for healthy living. Features of the event were a cookbook and readings from students in Native American literature classes.
“I asked my students to write about indigenous food or family food traditions,” said Dr. Jane Haladay of UNCP’s American Indian Studies Department. Ellen Brantly, a student in Dr. Haladay’s American Indian literature class, brought a family story about collards.
“Collards are a family tradition for us at New Years,” Brantly said. “We have a saying: ‘Collards for dollars.’ It brings luck.
“My aunt Anita could make the best collards,” she continued. “They said she cut them so thin, they had only one side.”
Provost Ken Kitts welcomed the gathering and thanked the sponsors: Locklear Farms, Lumbee Guaranty Bank, Robeson County Cooperative Extension Service, American Indian Studies, the departments of Biology and English and Theatre, the Office for Multicultural and Minority Affairs, the Center for Academic Excellence and the Office of University Communications and Marketing.
“We are so happy with this turnout,” said Dr. Haladay. “I think it has something to do with this great food.”
Dr. Haladay reminded participants to pick up the recipe book filled with stories of native food and healthy recipes like Choctaw banaha, boiled okra soldiers and quinoa corn salad.
Students and faculty alike enjoyed the food. School of Education faculty member Dr. Chiuchu Chuang grew up in Taiwan, but she earned her Ph.D. in Texas.
“The collards are very good,” Dr. Chuang said from behind a plate of food and a bowl of bison chili. “It’s good to try something different, and it’s interesting to know the history of local food.”
While Dr. Chuang went back for deer hash and cornbread, students Amber Ward and Brian Pittman, who grew up in Lumberton, discussed the event. They are both minoring in American Indian Studies, although neither are American Indians.
“We live in a native community, and I have relatives who are members of the Lumbee tribe,” Ward said. “American Indian Studies was just the right choice.”
Pittman added, “American Indian Studies is something you don’t get in high school, so we’re learning about our own community.”
Pittman was having trouble choosing from the large number of local and native dishes. “This makes it hard to choose,” he said.
“It’s a lot of fun though, and this is a good turnout,” Ward said. “I’ve got to go get some more deer jerky.”
To learn more about Honoring Native Foodways, contact UNCP’s American Indian Studies Department at 910.521.6266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.