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Fry Bread!

One thing I love about my elders is that they start their teachings acknowledging that this is the way they do things and it might differ from the way someone else does things. There is a respect for differences in Indigenous cultures. No way is wrong, just different.

So this is the way I make fry bread. It might be different than the way someone else will teach you and that's okay. All fry bread is delicious.

Indigenous people are excellent examples of making do with what you have. When the settlers started to take the land and moving people to reservations, many Natives began to starve because they were unable to hunt, farm, and gather off the land. Food sovereignty was lost and the majority of Natives lived in food deserts with little access to food and groceries. The U.S. government responded to this providing basic food commodities to the reservations. Among other foods, they were provided rations of flour, sugar, baking powder, and powdered milk. Native women began putting together the ingredients and soon, fry bread was created and became a staple in the Native American diet.

Not long after, Natives began to experience health issues they had never experienced before, like diabetes and heart disease. Most of the food provided by the government had poor nutritional value. Natives had a primarily clean diet eating whole foods produced from the land before contact was made with settlers. The adjustment to processed foods has taken a toll on the health of many Natives. I personally like to enjoy fry bread only on special occasions acknowledging that it is an indulgence and not the best for my long-term health.

My Aunt Charlie taught my sisters and me how to make fry bread when we were young. When she taught us, there was no recipe online we could go to to remember. It was a few scoops of this (flour), a couple pinches of that (sugar), some of this (baking powder), and just a little of that (salt). Mix in some milk and let it sit for a while. Pull off some chunks, pat them flat, leave a little hole for Spirit to enter through and fry til golden.

We make fry bread tacos, dessert fry bread with pie filling toppings or cinnamon and sugar, or we eat it with soups and stews. It can also be eaten all on its own. When I eat it, I think about the resilience of my ancestors. I thank them for passing down their teachings and means of survival to me, and I remember that everything must be done in moderation.

Let me know in the comments how you like to enjoy your fry bread!

Gigawabamin Menawah! (See you again!)


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