By Kelsey Keller, Brock Mackinnis , and Jordon Lawrenz
Celebrating Native American Heritage Month Through Food and Community
November is Native American Heritage Month, and to celebrate, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) held a Harvest Feast. The feast was held on Nov. 17, from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. in the Phoenix Rooms on campus. The event was supported by the Student Engagement Center, The Intertribal Student Council, and The Center for First Nations Education. The meal made for the feast was outsourced to Medicine Kitchen, a regionally based business specializing in Native American cuisine.
The menu included a strawberry drink, a spinach salad with a mustard vinaigrette, cinnamon maple roasted carrots and parsnips, wild rice with roasted squash, seasonal vegetable soup, prepared buffalo, and cornbread with wojapi and coconut whipped cream for dessert. After an opening remark by Crystal Lepscier, The First Nations Student Success Coordinator, Chancellor Michael Alexander read the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay’s Land Acknowledgement. The meal was then prayed over by a member of the Menominee tribe, and Elders of the Native communities were served first out of respect and honor.
Medicine Kitchen is run by two indigenous women and is rooted in bringing healthy, fresh, indigenous foods to their communities and beyond. Miya Goodeagle, one of the co-founders of Medicine Kitchen, stated that the two started the business because they wanted “to bring healthy food options to pow-wows. We were talking about making a food stand at the upcoming pow-wow in Keshena last summer and decided that was the direction we wanted to take it in. There are so many food options available at pow-wows but almost none that are healthy or that can accommodate food restrictions/allergies or other dietary lifestyles.”
When asked about their dishes, Goodeagle stated, “A few of our main dishes are two different styles of rice bowls, both usually made with buffalo meat for the main protein. Because we don’t use dairy or eggs, those can easily be made vegan if you request no meat. We also prepare a wild rice and mixed berry bowl and a few different styles of soup at every event. For the beverages, we usually have an iced or hot tea and a traditional strawberry drink made with strawberries and sweetened with maple syrup.” Goodeagle is proud to be cooking at the Harvest Feast as it was a personal goal of hers to cook food that is good for “you” and good for her community.
Jared Robertson, a junior studying Humanities, attended the Harvest Feast because “it seemed like an interesting event and because Indigenous people really work into the humanities major as well.” Robertson said that he was most looking forward to “native cultural dishes.” He also thinks that “every place should be doing more to celebrate more cultures. This is a community event. Getting to know different cultures more and that’s how you get those strong community bonds by understanding people more.”
Ellie Frisch, a freshman majoring in Management, said that she “is excited to learn more about the event and indigenous culture and eat some good food.” Frisch thinks that “UWGB does a great job at celebrating and honoring different heritages, but there could always be more events like [The Harvest Feast].”
The Harvest Feast was rooted in bringing the community together through the love of food and celebrating and honoring the indigenous culture.