Saturday, September 3, 2016


Shé:kon, sewakwé:kon! It’s been a long time. I hope this post finds you all well, in good health, and enjoying the slowdown of the summer season. Yonkhinisténha Owéntsyia is awake and alive. The days are tapering, heat is dissipating, the plant world is full of energy, green corn is ready, and peaches and tomatoes have returned to our baskets and cooking pots. I’m finally returning to this blog after a lengthy hiatus. After my post back in November 2015, I took some time to focus on my academic obligations, my dissertation prospectus, and a series of fellowship deadlines. It takes a lot of time balancing one's work and self-care. I have missed checking with you all and sharing what I have been up to, so I’ll leave a few highlights here.

About that “self-care” I mentioned, I have spent a significant amount of time in 2016 working intensely to support my physical fitness. Taking part in two fat loss challenges through my personal trainer’s gym Fithouse, I committed myself to a serious workout routine and adhered to a specific balanced macronutrient diet regimen. Combining strength training and high intensity interval training and conditioning, along with a whole foods nutritional approach, I proudly and determinedly made it through 22 weeks of the challenge at the start of the year. It was a struggle sometimes getting in a workout when I least felt like it, or going low carb in the beginning, in addition to dealing with diabetes-related challenges like low and high blood sugars and constant monitoring and fine-tuning insulin rates. I’m learning too that certain numbers (i.e. the one on the scale) aren’t the end-all, be-all measures of success. I did not lose all the weight I wanted to and I’m honest enough to acknowledge that I did not follow 100% nutrition either. But I did lose some inches and gained: a greater trust in my body (a body which I sometimes fear/loathe/find hard to love), more energy, better mood, and little indents of previously hidden muscles in my shoulders, back, and legs. I found too that fitness is an essential tool in managing my diabetes as I notice my blood sugar numbers rise after periods of little movement.

Earlier this summer, I attended the Haudenosaunee Seedkeepers Gathering at Onondaga Nation territory near Syracuse. When I was there, I listened to advice about the planting season, companion planting, seed saving, combating pests, and traditional agricultural methods. Then we split ourselves up into small groups according to our communities and discussed some of the issues we were facing and what we could possibly do about them. At Tuscarora, we discussed how to get our youth involved, issues of GMO corn planting and pesticide use by non-Native farmers in neighboring fields, the need for a community seed bank, and the precious, and somewhat forgotten, legacy of bountiful orchards and grapes that used to grow on Skarure land. At the conclusion of the event, we were generously gifted different heirloom seeds to take home and plant. I'm so grateful to the organizers and seedkeepers who hosted the event and shared their knowledge and seeds. Check out the seed photos below:

Buffalo Creek squash heirloom seeds

Cranberry beans

Bear beans

Dry Soup beans

Tuscarora White corn from Ganondagan

Brant Blue corn from Six Nations

Rattlesnake beans
While I was at the Seedkeepers Gathering, I had a rush of inspiration to start a garden at Tuscarora on my grandmother's former house site. My grandma passed away in December 2014 and her double-wide trailer was sold and removed earlier this year, leaving an empty piece of land. With the support of the Indigenous Women's Initiatives'-The Seed Institute, I proposed to create a gardening project to re-mediate that land space and plant traditional heirloom seeds in Three Sisters' mound-style planting. It's been an interesting adventure and I would love to share it all here, but it will have to be its own separate blog post. If you simply cannot wait and want to see pictures now, check out the IWI-The Seed Institute Facebook page and look for the "Grandma Garden 2016" photo album.

I'm also quite excited to share that my fellowship application efforts earlier this year have been rewarded with some great opportunities. I am one of two recipients at the University at Buffalo to have been awarded the Public Humanities Fellowship from the New York Council for the Humanities. In fact, I just returned from the fellowship orientation last week in New York City where I met my fellow colleagues and took part in some very informative workshops to learn more about facilitating effective discussions, allocating project funding support, and what it means to be working in the "public humanities." This opportunity supports my dissertation work in that it will help me turn parts of my dissertation work into a public project for people to engage, discuss, and inform. It is my dream to create a small cookbook featuring stories, language, history, and community recipes as well as YouTube videos that teach cooking and language vocabulary. In addition to this award, I also have the opportunity to visit the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, sometime this academic year, to work with their language and primary source materials.

In the meantime, I hope to post more about my research and share more recipes, and will keep you updated on these projects! If you're not already following the Indigenous Food Revolutionary Facebook page, please check it out for more frequent updates. And remember to take a moment to slow down and enjoy the pique of the growing season, and thank the earth for continuing to provide for us. Etho nikawén:nake, táhnon onen étho!

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog, keep up the awesome work. I am so proud of you and everything you have accomplished. Nya:weh!