Select Page

by Megan Larmer

Earlier this month, representatives of 148 indigenous food communities from 58 countries in Africa, the Americas, the Arctic, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, Russia and the Pacific gathered in the far northeast corner of India for Indigenous Terra Madre. Over five days, this incredibly diverse group shared their stories, knowledge, foods and blessings. On the final day, the Mei-Ramew (mother earth) Festival drew an estimated 60,000 people to taste and celebrate the extraordinary indigenous foods and peoples that define this global family. Like the best family gatherings, there was lots of laughter, some heated disagreement, tears of joy, and innumerable small but profound gestures of enduring love.

{{ image(3901, {“class”: “flor round”, “width”: “300”, “height”: “225”}) }}This group bore not even the slightest resemblance to any Norman Rockwell painting, yet this was surely a feast of thanksgiving for the vitality of earth and its defenders. The theme of Indigenous Terra Madre 2015 was “The Future We Want” – well the future we here at Slow Food USA want is one that embraces plurality, that honors both the sorrows of history and the thrill of hoping together for a better world.

This holiday season, as you gather your own loved ones near, take the opportunity to celebrate the legacy of some of the defenders of biodiversity who have endured for centuries in North America by tasting one of the sacred foods they protect. The Anishnaabe people of the Great Lakes region have withstood numerous attacks on their livelihoods, the most recent at the hands of oil companies. Throughout, they have protected the wild, sacred grain manoomin. The Anishnaabeg Manoomin Presidium of Slow Food honors the 200+ gatherers who are custodians and practitioners of the traditional harvest practices of the Objiwe. Presidium coordinator and inspirational leader Winona LaDuke says of manoomin:

“Manoomin in many ways defines Anishinaabeg people – it also defines a territory, the heart of North America – source of a fifth of the world’s water, and the only place in the world where wild rice and Ojibwe people live . We have prayed, sang, danced, and fought for this land and this wild rice. Today, we face some of the largest oil and mining companies in the world, and we continue to protect that which is sacred. This gift we offer to you, and ask you to join us in celebrating the only grain indigenous to North America, a gift from the Creator. And, we ask you to join us in transitioning to an economy and way of life which is based on reverence for the earth and future generations.”

{{ image(3900, {“class”: “flor round”, “width”: “300”, “height”: “400”}) }}The manoomin has a distinct flavor, the sacred waters where it grows give a fresh minerality to the nutty grain that is unlike any other taste. Innovative chef Sean Sherman, of Sioux Chef, prepared it with maple syrup and dried berries for a tasting workshop at Indigenous Terra Madre. Sarah LittleRedFeather Kalmanson prepares squash, another food indigenous to North America, stuffed with cooked manoomin and sage. Sauteed cashews and red onion add a sweetly savory note to Winona LaDuke’s favorite preparation. As you invite the full story of our lands to your table, how will you prepare and share this sacred grain? What blessing for our shared future will you give over the meal?

Purchase Manoomin and learn more about Honor the Earth

Discover other feasts of gratitude and celebration from North America’s history

Read the daily digest of proceedings from Indigenous Terra Madre: