By Benjamin C Yazza
The Native American Nutrition Conference (NANC) kicked off with a Sunday morning workshop on foraging of Indigenous foods. Participants were re-introduced to the food and plants locally available in Minnesota with an Indigenous focus. Learning about plants Ojibwe names as well as medical and culinary uses to the Indigenous people of Minnesota.
Hope Flanagan (Ojibwe) is the community outreach and cultural teacher at Dream of Wild Health. She shared medicinal and culinary information with attendees as they walked around the Memorial park in Shakopee, Minnesota. The park offered a wide range of plants for the attendees to learn about. It was closely connected to the nearby Minnesota river.
As the group tasted freshly foraged berries and nuts amongst other foods, Flanagan spoke about the importance of understanding our roots within the community. She said when people put our phones down and seek the help of elders and plants around us then they will come closer and share their knowledge with us.
“I love that their are some of these plants that were here when this was a deployment encampment and their ancestors are here and they’re waiting for us to thank them,” said Flanagan.
Video by Benjamin C Yazza
In addition to asking Flanagan about specific plants, many attendees shared their own research in foraging within the workshop.
“As an non-Native person, if I had the opportunity to learn about plants, perhaps a botanical name. Maybe a culinary use if I was lucky and that’s it,” said Hartley Newell-Acero, outreach coordinator at Sawtooth Mountain Clinic. “This workshop gave me an expanded vision of what is around me.”
The workshop broke down the nutritional history of indigenous foods native to the area. Flanagan shared her own knowledge of medical healing through the use of local plants.