Tele-Native Youth: Traditional Foods

By: Ruben Littlehead, Northern Cheyenne

Hello, hello, I hope everyone’s Christmas was a good one and you are ready to bring in the new year… 2021!

On Wednesday, December 16th, 2020, I had the honor and privilege, once again, to host yet another fantastic Webinar Wednesday titled “Traditional Foods”. It included some renowned chefs and food educators through the Indigenous food sovereignty and Indigenous food systems.  

To watch, click here.

The beginning of the show introduced the three guests; Chef Sean Sherman (founder of Sioux Chef), from Minneapolis, MN, Mariah Gladstone (founder of Indigikitchen), from Babb, MT, and Brandon Lujan (Taos Pueblo Youth Council Representative). Each of these guests provided their passion and latest work in the food industry. Chef Sean Sherman was very knowledgeable about different styles of food preparation and Indigenous history, in which he hopes to combine the two to create awareness through his writings and within his new restaurant that is set to open next month. Chef Sean also invited a couple of his coworkers/chefs, Vern Defoe and Kieran Gorman, to chime in and join the webinar to share their experiences and promote the NATIFS (North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems).

Mariah Gladstone expressed how excited she was to be part of the webinar and to know there are more people interested in food sovereignty and reconnecting to Indigenous teachings of traditional foods.  Mariah created the “Indigikitchen” which utilizes old recipes of Native peoples and promotes healthy lifestyles. Also, Mariah is combining some of the old ways with her higher education from Columbia University and attending graduate school completing her Masters in Environmental Science. 

Brandon Lujan, a young/old soul is set to change the world and possesses no fear to take on the challenge! I say “old soul” because he talks with a lot of wisdom at a young age.  Brandon spoke about his family’s teachings about the land, the plants, and the water. He also expressed how important it is to buy local and promote community involvement. 

One of the common attributes for food systems was the selection and protection of the soil being used. Each guest expressed the importance of keeping the soil fresh and free from microorganisms. In addition, the importance of the seed and to regenerate the native seeds.

Each guest invited the youth to visit their website and look for local resources to help explore their own personal curiosity of Indigenous food systems. They encouraged youth to remember to honor the land, water and plants and utilize the natural medicines, we as Native Americans have been doing since time immemorial. 

Lastly, thank you to the staff of Center for Native American Youth and Aspen Institute for promoting education and connecting networks for a better tomorrow!  Happy New Year.

Ruben LH 

Ni Aut’ish Eh’ Mehn

Ruben Littlehead, an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne tribe, currently resides in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife and four children. The proud Haskell Indian Nations University alum is currently pursing a masters degree at the University of Kansas. Throughout his life, Ruben has had many different hats; commercial roofer, Kirby salesman, Retention Specialist at Haskell, and most recent an independent consultant working with various tribal nations and first nations throughout United States and Canada. Being a consultant Ruben has the privilege to travel and see and experience the diverse communities and learn first hand from the teachers and elders of each society.  Ruben is also a basketball lover, and serve as a basketball coach and trainer through player development. Lastly, Ruben enjoys the outdoors and recently took up hiking and wants to explore more of this beautiful world.