Lakota Food Knowledge Series Teaches Traditional Ways

"Traditional plants and medicines are a great way to rediscover our culture and language," says Lisa Iron Cloud. "So many of don't realize that our natural foods and medicines are all around us."

This month our Food Sovereignty Initiative hosted two events dedicated to revitalizing indigenous foods as part of its Lakota Food Knowledge event series, attended by 50 community members. Lisa Iron Cloud, who helped organize both our Traditional Plants Workshop and our Buffalo Harvest, feels that events like these, "leave an impression on people to better steward the land and everything living on it." 

During the Traditional Plant Workshop, ethnobotanist Linda Black Elk joined us to teach about the benefits of using various local plants in everything from lip balm and salves to teas and aromatherapy sachets. Attendees could customize their options based on which plants would best suit their health needs, such as making hawthorne tea for lowering blood pressure or burdock salve for relieving eczema. All of the plants she used in the workshop grow locally, making it easy for all the attendees to begin learning how to identify, harvest and utilize these plants in the future.

The Buffalo Harvest offered a very different sent of skills and knowledge. Richard Sherman and Ralph Bear Killer taught attendees how to properly process a buffalo, from start to finish. Killed that morning, the buffalo was brought directly to the Thunder Valley CDC offices so attendees could learn techniques for skinning, butchering and identifying different cuts for creating steaks or ground meat. A portion of the meat was ground and sent to our Lakota Immersion Childcare Program so our students can have healthy, lean bison to eat alongside with the vegetables that were preserved from the on-site garden.

"I think as because our people's lives used to be so directly connected with the land and its inhabitants, that now we struggle with loss of self identity," says Lisa. "If we establish an environment where our ways of harvesting plants and foods are taught and people can ask questions and discuss their opinions, it will lead to a clearer understanding of how our relatives thought.  And that understanding that better will strengthen our relationship and spiritual connection to Iná Makȟá (Mother Earth), re-establishing our roles as caretakers of her."

For more information on future Food Sovereignty Initiative events in our Lakota Food Knowledge series, be sure to check our Calendar.

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