No Co-opting this year
US: Native American chefs say their indigenous foods are not a trend to be co-opted this Thanksgiving. Cooks are rejecting the 'Columbusing' of their foods and refer to America's national holiday as 'Takesgiving'. Earlier this fall, Karlos Baca, an indigenous food activist known for cooking beautiful foraged meals using traditional Native American ingredients and cooking methods, was approached by a regional food magazine. But this year, Baca, who is Diné/Tewa/Nuche and lives in southwest Colorado, will be serving a seven-course meal in New York. The event was planned by the I-Collective, a group of native herbalists, seed-keepers and chefs, though he rejects that last label. (“A chef is a French-European concept that I'm not even interested in anymore,” he says.) It follows on the heels of a six-course October dinner at the James Beard House by Oglala Lakota chef Sean Sherman, who is known as the Sioux Chef, a homophone to another French culinary concept: the kitchen's second-in-command job, the sous chef. Thinking of Native American food as a trend perpetuates a number of misguided notions: first, that Native American food is a monolithic thing. The food of our country's indigenous people - some, like Baca, do not like the term “Native American,” because his ancestors predate the naming of America - is as diverse as the country's 567 federally recognized Native American nations. Outsiders tend to think of them in the aggregate, noting fry bread, a fried dough with various toppings, as one food that many share. Around Thanksgiving, one of the few times that schools teach students about Native Americans, many include fry bread as part of the curriculum.