Pokagon Band hosting annual regional summit on Native American food production and culinary arts

The Pokagon Band will welcome indigenous food producers, harvesters, and chefs to Rodgers Lake during the 2019 Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit. The event, in partnership with Intertribal Agricultural Council (IAC), will be held April 25-28. A concurrent Youth Summit will also run throughout the event.

The Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit is a regional, travelling summit. The annual event brings together several hundred native farmers, ranchers, gardeners, chefs, businesses, policymakers, tribal agriculture staff, native non-profits working in agriculture, food producers and tribal leaders to share and learn together around traditional food and agriculture and food sovereignty.

The Summit highlights traditional and contemporary Native American foods and culinary arts. Leading indigenous chefs from across North America will prepare and serve meals featuring indigenous and native-produced ingredients, some wild foraged from local areas. Indigenous chefs will also hold small, hands-on workshops showcasing traditional cooking knowledge and food preparation while mentoring attending youth. A native market showcasing tribal food products and indigenous arts will be featured throughout the event.

The event opens on Thursday, April 25 with immersive, hands-on workshops on topics such as sustainability, food security, production practices, traditional harvesting, and meal preparation. There will be several opportunities to work directly with top indigenous chefs, as well as connect with native harvesters and producers to forage on Pokagon lands.

Additional workshops, running through Friday, April 26, include seed banks and seed saving, discussions on sapping and sugaring a variety of trees, current and historic economies of indigenous foods, treaty resource inventories and natural resource management, soil conservation, small scale farming, foraging, harvesting and processing of a variety of products, butchering techniques, and much more.

Saturday, April 27 features a day-long Intertribal Foods Festival. This Festival will include small group demonstrations and food-tasting stations with interactive activities for all ages. To attend only the Intertribal Foods Festival portion, registration is $25 per adult. Children under 16 may attend free of charge.

In addition to the workshop tracks offered through the Great Lakes Intertribal Food Summit, the concurrent Youth Summit features an educational section open to high school-aged youth. The Summit each year brings native youth together for a one-of-a-kind learning experience exploring issues they will face as the next generation of food and agricultural leaders in the Great Lakes and Midwest regions. Youth will focus on engaging with elders and tradition-bearers to learn cultural skills and practices like outdoor cooking and reconnecting with the land through gathering wild foods.

The Summit is open to all. There are many opportunities to learn, explore, and collaborate on issues of food sovereignty in Indian Country, including discussing relevant current events, sharing best practices, and networking with other food sovereignty professionals. The cost to attend the full five-day summit for regular registration ranges from $125 to $175 for food producers and tribal community members. The fee for Pokagon community members will be waived.

If you’d like to get involved, contact a member of the Pokagon Food Sovereignty Committee or Dan Cornelius, Intertribal Agriculture Council, at (608) 280-1267 or dan@indianaglink.com.