Healthy eating in the modern world is not always easy. Fast food and prepackaged foods offer inexpensive and easy alternatives to healthier foods or cooking from scratch. Even in remote locations, you can find snacks like burgers, chips, candies and sodas.
However, these kinds of foods can be harmful to our health in the long run. Diet and nutrition play a crucial role in our overall health. Watch the videos below to see cooking demonstrations by Native chefs, learn about foraging, food sovereignty, pre-colonial cooking, Native food traditions, and more.
What a Six Course, Gourmet Native American Meal Looks Like
Three Indigenous chefs come together to prepare a multi-course meal of Native cuisine for a group of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Los Angeles. The meal consists of agave-roasted rabbit tacos, imu-cooked kalua pork, and painted like a Pawnee horse black bean salad (made from newly restored heirloom beans grown with love and resistance). And just wait until you get to these talented chefs’ “dessert trio.”
What Is "Pre-Colonial" Cooking?
Seattle-based chef Hillel Echo-Hawk focuses on traditional Pawnee foods, before Columbus and colonization, which means no dairy, no chicken, no processed sugar — all foods that led to an increase in obesity among Native people. Her catering company, which emphasizes hiring an all-Native staff, is preparing for its largest gig ever, a Seattle arts event for over 100 people, serving Native cuisine like Pawnee blue corn mush with Ojibwe maple syrup, honey Lakota popcorn, cedar-cooked tepary beans with pine roasted butternut squash, and sweet potatoes with pecans.
Cooking the Cherokee Way with Betty Jo Smith
As a child, she learned to cook from the Cherokee women around her. Watch Cherokee National Treasure Betty Jo Smith prepare traditional foods and share a meal — and her kitchen secrets — with the next generation.
What Native Elders Think About Indigenous Cooking
Brian Yazzie, a Navajo traveling chef, brings Native cuisine back home to the Navajo Nation in Arizona. He plans to make meals for a small group, just his family and local community leaders, but when word spreads and suddenly he’s cooking for a large group of curious and impatient community elders. Watch him make blue corn mash with agave syrup and seeds, plus Navajo steamed corn soup, in a crammed kitchen full of curious elders who think he should be on “Rachel Ray.”
Cooking Class at Ohkay Owingeh
New Mexico’s cuisine is unlike anywhere else, and the American Indian influence on the foods that shape the state is timeless and tasty. Dive in tastebuds first to Norma Naranjo’s cooking class in Ohkay Owingeh.
Bringing Native Cuisine to the Mainstream
Growing up, Taelor Barton’s favorite dish was her grandmother’s kanuchi. Now, as the executive chef of a downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, restaurant, she merges traditional cooking with modern cuisine to bring an appreciation of Native foods to the public.
Baking Over the Coals
Explore the art of traditional Choctaw cooking. While the technique used in this video isn’t a part of the daily lives of many tribal members, it’s still practiced on special occasions and for social gatherings.
Cherokee Bean Bread
Learn how to make this staple dish, which is part of nearly every meal in a Cherokee home. Chef Nico Albert (Cherokee Nation) is a self-taught chef, caterer and student of traditional Indigenous cuisines based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click here for the full recipe.
How This Navajo Chef Brings His Native Food Traditions Back
Brian Yazzie, a Navajo traveling chef based in St. Paul, Minnesota, does presentations demonstrating Native cooking across the country. He uses modern techniques with Native ingredients, and was mentored by the James Beard Award-winning Sean Sherman, founder of “The Sioux Chef.” Watch Brian prep amazing dishes like sumac duck confit with acorn squash, mushroom and sunflower shoots, turnips and sunchoke puree, sweetgrass-infused beet puree, and his very popular wild rice bowl.
Traditional Cherokee Food With An Urban Twist
Urban Chef Bradley Dry forages for ingredients and offers up traditional Cherokee dishes in a downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma restaurant.
Make a salad of Native greens from the oak woodlands. Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino are co-founders of mak-‘amham, an organization and restaurant focused on reviving and strengthening traditional Ohlone foods and sharing them back with their communities. Click here for the full recipe.
Native Hunting and Food Gathering
Learn how hunting and food gathering is a spiritual experience that allows American Indians to honor the land and the sustenance it provides. This deer-dressing demonstration, put on by Northwest Indian College during its “Our Food is Our Medicine” conference, hoped to motivate others to embrace traditional food gathering ways. The demonstration coincided with other Native foods being cooked by traditional methods, including clams, salmon and vegetables.
Wild Onions, A Cherokee Foraging Tradition
Foraging for wild onions is more than just a tradition for many Cherokees. It’s a way to connect with nature, spend time with loved ones and pass on important parts of our culture to new generations.
Cooking Kanuchi, A Cherokee Tradition
Cherokee National Treasure Edith Knight knows a lot about cooking. She shares the story of her youth, growing up and falling in love in the Cherokee Nation and her recipe for the traditional favorite: kanuchi.
Regaining Food Sovereignty
Regaining Food Sovereignty explores the state of food systems in some Northern Minnesota Native communities, examining the relationship between history, health, tradition, culture and food. By reclaiming and revitalizing knowledge and practices around tradition, local and healthy foods, many communities and tribal nations are working toward a new model of community health and wellbeing for this and future generations.
The Feasting Place
Home-cooked New Mexico Pueblo food is a unique treat. And when you are invited into the home, and help with the cooking, it becomes a true experience.
Norma and Hutch Naranjo invite visitors into their Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, New Mexico home to immerse themselves in “The Feasting Place.”
Participants get the hands-on thrill of making Pueblo foods like oven bread, tamales, pies and calabacitas, all while hearing about the culture, the history and the people behind the foods.
How To Make Sumac Lemonade
Sumac berries lend themselves to use in a lemony-earthy flavored spice, or use them immediately to make a tangy and refreshing beverage. Chef Nico Albert (Cherokee Nation) is a self-taught chef, caterer and student of traditional Indigenous cuisines based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Click here for the full recipe.