Cinco de Mayo, the 5th of May, is a proud time for celebration, but first we need to remember. Five hundred years ago, a European juggernaut, driven by greed and glory, committed genocide and tens of millions of Native Americans died. For example, in Central Mexico, only 5% of the Native American population survived the invasion and next few years of epidemics and mass slavery and genocide throughout Central and South America. Reference: encarta.
Then, in the centuries that followed, the disrespect, greed, dishonorable killing and actual murder continued into North America. What happened at the hands of the Spanish Conquistadors, Christian Church, American army generals and settlers is despicable and never should be glossed-over, as in movies, or glorified — and it should never be forgotten.
Their careless view of human life was without honor as e.g. smallpox-infested blankets were purposely given to the Crow tribe and peaceful California tribes were hunted-to-extinction as blood-sport for bounty-money.
We can never make up for these tragedies, but we can learn from them and never repeat them, and route out the roots of newly attempted discrimination.
We can also help by learning from the Native Americans to revere Mother Earth, as they do, and leave an ecologically-kind small-footprint on the Land. The Land deserves to be Honored.
For decades, I have traveled to visit First Nation peoples in North America. The Sovereign Nations are still being abused by governments throughout all the Americas — and especially are at risk in the USA. Yes, you heard me correctly.
I go to tribal lands here to learn their plight and then I try to lobby my legislators on their behalf. Please learn their issues and their causes. I can relate to their plight as it was my people labeled for genocide in World War 2. None of my family was ever on this continent to kill or hurt First Nation peoples during those centuries of terror, but I feel their pain.
There are many ways to perpetrate genocide, and these days, in America, it is done by “exclusion” and denial of heritage, by Government policy. As I said, learn more.
I sincerely hope that one day, all Native peoples will have the chance to return to their own culture completely, but most of the tribal cultures are so decimated, that without the help of anthropologists, oral tradition, the legacy of the artists who recorded a soon-to-vanish culture, there would be little for them to call their own. This was as much a genocide of their culture and language as much as of their body. Every time I look at my river-cane baskets, purchased from the Cherokee Tribe’s Cultural Center in Asheville, North Carolina, 30 years ago, I keep hoping that the last 2 women in the tribe who knew this skill, and who made my baskets, were finally able to transmit their knowledge to other members of the tribe. It had seemed hopeless back then.
Yet, now I think there is great hope. When we were in New Mexico 7 years ago (I can’t believe it’s almost 7 years!), I was so pleased to find the college-age people returning to their ancestral homes in Taos Pueblo, to live without modern conveniences like running water … they went to the stream to get it as their people had for more than 1,000 years. Taos Pueblo is the longest-inhabited site in the Americas.
And, I was hopeful because the artists were able to market their work for decent prices, at home or at tribal galleries, without voracious middle-men. And, people are being educated about the cheap, knock-off, totally-fake “Native-American” jewelry from China.
I was also so happy when my family was invited to attend the communal Salmon Feast marking the opening of the Museum at Warm Springs in Oregon, where hospitality, traditional foods, and dancing from many regional tribes made a living history seem very vibrant.
The video and language conservation has begun on the large personally made, 40 year now-archived legacy of Guy Tyler, amateur ethnographer for 22 Native American languages, stories and traditions, by National Public Radio and the Berkeley Language Center, University of California, Berkeley at www.indigenous-language.org www.nativeland.org/ilrp.html and the advocacy of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers Council, a worldwide organization for tribal peoples whose Mission Statement sums it all up:
“We come together to nurture, educate and train our children. We come together to uphold the practice of our ceremonies and to affirm the right to use our plant medicines free of legal restrictions. We come together to protect the lands where our peoples live and upon which our cultures depend, to safeguard the collective heritage of traditional medicines, and to defend the Earth herself. We believe that the teachings of our ancestors will light our way through an uncertain future.”
I have always been so struck by every tribe’s wonderful hospitality to the stranger — even before this Causcasian showed that I was on their side. Whether it be in the home of a Penobscot princess in Old Town, Maine or on the windy coast of the Makah reservation in Washington state, listening to how the tribe was trying to decide how to save their tribal forests when the wood was needed to pay for legal fees to fight for their right to live their tribal ways. I was always treated with respect and welcomed.
I admire the people so much, and so it is with great pleasure I introduce to you the next in a recurring series about native foods. I have already introduced you to agave.
Unfortunately, the Pima tribe, in America’s Southwest, have the highest percentage of diabetics of any people on earth. This is from a high rate of gestational diabetes and also the way the Pima have been treated on their ancesteral lands.
The Pima Tribe is learning to control its diabetes by returning to these native foods, (which were almost unavailable on the small area given back to them from their once-vast lands, which also couldn’t be farmed when Caucasian farmers upstream cut off almost all the water to Pima lands, and caused death and starvation!). And, the same water cut-off by Caucasians has happened to the nearby Cocopah tribe in California and destroyed their ability to farm their lands as they traditionally had for thousands of years. www.cocopah.com/docs/overview.html
The foods the US Government made available to the Pima when the water dried-up through upstream greed and poor government regulation were the regular sad American foods, and they have caused the Pima’s rates of diabetes to soar. Whereas, studies of Pima in Mexico, who still are able to live in their traditional way, show almost no diabetes at all.
“Dr. Eric Ravussin, a visiting scientist at the Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch at NIDDK, has studied obesity in the Pima Indians since 1984. He believes the thrifty gene theory applies to the Pimas.
The Pima Indians maintained much of their traditional way of life and economy until the late 19th century, when their water supply was diverted by American farmers settling upstream, according to Ravussin. At that time, their 2,000-year-old tradition of irrigation and agriculture was disrupted, causing poverty, malnutrition and even starvation. The Pima community had to fall back on the lard, sugar and white flour the U.S. government gave them to survive, says Ravussin.”
… ” Recently, Ravussin visited a Pima community living as their ancestors did in a remote area of the Sierra Madre mountains of Mexico. These Mexican Pimas are genetically the same as the Pima Indians of Arizona. Out of 35 Mexican Pimas studied, only three had diabetes and the population as a whole was not overweight, according to Ravussin. “
So, now, in addition to agave syrup — an amazing low-glycemic, natural sweetener, from a specific cactus — you can learn about mesquite bean pods. I’ll give you a couple of recipes and I note that mesquite is best eaten as raw meal in recipes. If it is cooked, you will need to add other flours to “cover” the strange flavors from cooking it.
Mesquite is a life-saving high-protein, high-mineral, low glycemic carbohydrate, non-gluten food. It needs to be part of your larder.
Thank the generations of indigenous mothers and grandmothers who patiently learned the secrets of the plants in every culture, but the American Southwest was especially blessed with many important low-glycemic foods, which the women found and used for their family’s and tribe’s benefit.
By choosing the right foods, the women kept their family healthy, and that is still our need today. Keep learning how to find healthy foods among the plethora of junk offered you.
So celebrate Cinco de Mayo, the day when the Native American Mexicans and Metizos (people of Native American – Spanish heritage), after more than 400 years, beat the last of the European colonial powers to occupy their land, and paved the way for a successful win against slavery in the United States, too, by defeating the French at the Battle of Puebla.
Best to all — Em
Based on a recipe from: www.desertharvesters.greenbicycle.net/recipes.html
Pinole – for 1
1 T mesquite flour
1T saguaro cactus seed meal (or ground pumpkin seed, hempseed or flax seed meal)
1 C Evamor or spring water
Stir all together briskly. Drink it before flour settles to the bottom. Almond milk can be used instead of water.
Mesquite Nut Milk
serves 2-4 people
1/3 C almond butter
1 C cashews
4 C water
Celtic sea salt to taste
3-5 T mesquite pod meal
Blend everything till it is quite smooth. Strain the milk through a cheese cloth. You can dehydrate the nut pulp for later use. Enjoy!
Mesquite ‘Toffee’ Smoothie
Source: Recipe developed by Karen Knowler of the Fresh Network
3 large ripe organic bananas
1-2 C Evamor or spring water
2-3 T agave nectar (or 4-6 organic dates)
2 T mesquite meal (rounded, heaped tablespoons)
Blend the ingredients together, adding more mesquite or agave/dates to suit your taste.
As a variation: Try adding some cacao nibs for a chocolate alternative; they are available in good health stores or from link below. Serves 2.
======================================================================= Based on: http://www.mightyfoods.com/archives/superfoods
3/4 C cornmeal
3/4 C flour of choice
1/2 C mesquite meal
1/2 t baking soda
2 t non-aluminum baking powder (Rumford’s)
3 T organic butter, melted
1/2 t Celtic sea salt
1 egg organic, Omega-3, free-range
3 T honey OR 2T agave syrup
1 C fresh buttermilk or plain kefir
optional: 1 C corn, 3/4 C grated jack cheese, 3 T minced onion, or 1 T chipotle chili flakes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Mix wet ingredients and stir into dry ingredients until just combined. Add optional items if desired. Spread on a greased, preheated 8×8 pan. Bake 25-30 minutes at 325 degrees.
Philip M. Klasky is the director of the legacy of Guy Tyler, The Storyscape Project located in the Presidio of San Francisco. They are in need of financial and other means of support to advance their projects. For more information call (415) 752-8678 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please check this information is still current.
MESQUITE FLOUR – SUPPLIERS:
San Xavier Farm Cooperative
8100 S Oidak Wog, Tucson, Arizona 85746. 520-295-3774
The San Xavier Farm Cooperative harvests their mesquite pods from the best tasting trees on their tribal lands, and Desert Harvesters mills the pods into flour. This is another source of local mesquite flour for those living in southern Arizona.
526 N. 4th Ave., Tucson, Arizona 85705. 520-622-5561. www.nativeseeds.org
Inquire with Native Seeds/SEARCH as to where their mesquite flour is from as they have different suppliers.
They have packaged mesquite flour, tepary beans, cactus jelly, chia seeds, and more!
San Pedro Mesquite Company supplies mesquite flour imported from Peru and Namibia. They also sell and excellent mesquite meal cookbook. A great local source of native mesquite flour, tepary beans, roasted wheat flour, corn meal, roasted corn, squash, and more!
(c)2007 Em http://diabetesdietdialogue.wordpress.com
If you desire to quote or use my article, please include the full copyright citation and website address. Thanks!