Traditional Indigenous foods nurture your circle
Karen Lee White
The most significant difference between Indigenous and mainstream worldviews is in how the land, itself, is regarded. Indigenous people view themselves as part of an ecosystem that relies on a symbiotic interconnectedness; we take care of the land, and in turn, we are taken care of.
Celebrating the power of the collective is essential to our well-being. In tribal societies, where everyone has a place in the village, has gifts to share, and is valued, the honour of one is the honour of all. Feasts have traditionally marked occasions such as weddings, coming of age, funerals, and other spiritual ceremonies.
For many Indigenous cultures, winter is a time to connect with the spirits of the past. But, for many, it’s also a time to recognize everyone’s fundamental interconnectedness—with each other, nature, and all that is.
According to many Indigenous teachings, in understanding the interconnectedness of all things, human and nonhuman, we recognize that the cosmos—the sun, moon, stars, and other planets—affect us and connect us in undeniable ways.
A winter feast empowers individuals and circles. Fostering a deep connection to a curated collective and breaking bread together is uplifting and healing. There is benefit to all, inclusion, acceptance, even reconciliation. It’s the deep connection for which we are universally deeply longing.
Traditional Indigenous foods nourish in every way. Wild food connects us to the land we’re on; gratitude for what earth, water, and sky provide is a medicine. Traditional Indigenous foods are rich in nutrients, trace elements, and antioxidants; lean, clean, and rich in healthy fats; high in protein; and low in carbohydrates.
Winter celebrations are a consistent feature of Indigenous cultures everywhere. At the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, BC, the Spo7ez (spoh-ez) Winter Feast offers Indigenous-inspired fusion cuisine and rich culture—fusing traditional ingredients and chef genius, along with Indigenous crafted wines, storytelling, performers in regalia sharing songs, and even museum tours.
If you can’t travel to Whistler, you might find winter gatherings in your area. Check with your local Indigenous friendship centre, where powwows, tournaments, winter feasts, and tea or round dances may be offered—and are usually open to everyone.
You can also create and experience your own winter feast by planning a feast for dear ones to mark the winter solstice. Create a tradition to mark the shortest day of the year and the coming return of the sun.
Enjoy fostering camaraderie and belonging, the sheer beauty of the power of a circle.
I have witnessed the power that is in a circle and feast, the priceless intimacy of community. There was room for all, those who had done harm to themselves, or family. All were treated with kindness and love. Misunderstandings were forgiven because the circle is greater than our hurts. All of us long to belong; know the priceless intimacy of community.
Source traditional ingredients and create dishes in your unique way. There are hundreds of Indigenous-owned food businesses across the country that can provide inspiration through their online menus. You can also find inspiration from the interactive recipes published on the website of a unique cooking show called Moosemeat and Marmalade (APTN) at Moosemeatandmarmalade.com
This article was originally published in the November 2023 issue of alive magazine.