Native American Ancestors' Diet Part of Study and Challenge
Condensed by Native Village
Michigan: Martin Reinhardt is taking the "eat local" movement to a whole new level. To experience his Native ancestors' lives, he and a diverse group of volunteers are adhering to a diet of foods indigenous to the Great Lakes region in the 1600s.
Decolonizing Diet Project (DDP) is more than halfway
through it's year-long challenge. For those who might
like to try it, Reinhardt
invites the general public to follow the
list of DDP eligible foods and
seasonal exercise plan for
one week, Nov. 2-9.
The idea for this study was sparked by the 2010 First Nations Food Taster at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, where Reinhardt is a faculty member. The event is held each November as part of Native American Heritage Month.
"I had participated several times and it had always been in the back of mind how closely related the food we serve at these events is to the foods our ancestors would have eaten in a pre-colonial context," said Reinhardt, who is an Anishinaabe Ojibway citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. "There is a deep historical interconnectedness, or spiritual kinship, between indigenous peoples and their traditional homelands that makes the act of eating indigenous plants and animals much more personal. We had to decide how we were going to execute this and how we would find our foods."
Months of discussions at NMU's Center for Native American Studies blossomed into the DDP. Reinhardt developed three criteria for foods eligible for the diet:
NMU students helped develop a master list of eligible foods along with preparation tips and recipes. A sample menu features
Reinhardt and 25 adult volunteers promised to follow a diet consisting of 25-100% indigenous foods. A few, including Reinhardt and Treasa Sowa of Munising, Mich., embraced the plan 100%.
"There are social issues, like having to refrain from eating at functions or bringing my own food places," Sowa said. "But that hasn't affected my determination. I've lost 23 pounds and there's a general sense of well-being that's hard to describe."
A few participants dropped out. Those who remain log their eating, exercise and share videos, photos, audio and keep written journals. They also have quarterly health checkups, meet for cooking demonstrations and share potlucks to discuss their experiences.
Village © Gina Boltz
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