National movement with local ties works to restore Native cultural food traditions

The growing appetite to restore food systems that were central to their health and culture for centuries has created a national movement among Native American tribes and the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi in Athens Township is part of it.

These food systems centered around fishing, foraging, and hunting were all but abandoned -- not by choice -- when tribes were stripped of their land and younger generations were forced into government-run boarding schools where they were banned from using their own language and names or practicing their religion and culture. As a result of this government-sanctioned action to strip tribes of their culture, many young people did not have the knowledge required to continue or maintain the food systems that flourished under their ancestors. 

The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (NHBP) Tribal Historian Preservation Officer Doug Taylor says people with this knowledge among the Tribe now are teaching these traditions to any member who wants to learn them. While not everyone attends these teaching sessions, he says it’s an important part of an overall plan to increase cultural knowledge and improve the health of Tribal members for generations to come.

“It gets us back to our old ways and our traditional ways,” Taylor says. “It’s important to embrace our history and bring it back. We can’t go back in time, but by having that tradition brought back, we can remember it and pass it on. We have members who will keep the history alive by actually practicing these traditions.”

Read more at Second Wave (Jane Simons)

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