Native Foodways, Part 1

Updated: Jan 12, 2019


It all started with a history class my first year at Davidson. I needed to take a history class for one of my Distribution Requirements. I hate history. Not because it's not important or interesting, but because of the way it's usually taught. It's usually straight memorization, a bunch of dates thrown at you, and from a very white perspective. So when picking a history class, I knew that I had to pick something that wasn't white history. So I chose The Native South, a class taught by one of my favorite professors, Dr. Rose Stremlau. The class wasn't your typical history class: we didn't have to memorize anything, instead we got to learn what we found interesting; we weren't given exact dates, instead we got eras and context; and we read stories and pieces from Native peoples about themselves, not just from white people.

When it came time to write our end of the semester research paper, it was kind of open season. The only way I could make myself actually put in effort to this research paper, I had to write about food. So I wrote my paper on the foodways of the 5 Native tribes of the Southeast we studied in this class: the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole. Dr. Stremlau asked me what part of their foodways, and I responded, "All of it". She looked at me, blinked a few times, and said "Ok." Since I am the queen of Procrastination Station, I waited until the day before to write 14 pages on the foodways of these 5 tribes. I remember sitting on the floor of my room with my footlocker as my desk, my tea kettle full with a bag of tea bags, a box of Cheez-Its to write this paper. Thanks to the support of my roommate and friends, I managed to finish it before the end of the day, without starving to death. To read the paper, become a site member and click on the Recipes and Writings tab!

This paper starting me on a path to studying Native Foodways, one that has allowed me to be a part of a Davidson first, to meet a Michelin Star and James Beard award winning chef, and learn almost everything there is to know about the corn tortilla. Want more details, subscribe to see my Native Foodways Journey.

©2018 by Maia Harrell.

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