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Native Harvest Gathering 2009: Food Preservation Workshop Report

It is with gratitude and a very happy, fulfilled community spirit that we bring to you some updates during these few days before the fall Equinox. Normally, we try to host our four R.E.D. events on the Equinoxes and Solstices, respectively, to honor those four sacred shifts of the year. Being that we need to bend to the will of schedules and weekend time off, we hosted our fall event this past weekend, culminating today with a Longhouse Ceremony and the placement of fresh, new eagle feathers on the prayer pole in downtown Ashland.

As many of you attended our first annual Native Harvest Gathering, it goes without saying that it was a HUGE success! To those of you who contributed to this event in some way--our presenters, tablers, demonstrators, cooks and cleaners in the kitchen, haulers of all the "stuff" we schlepped to and from the Grange, potluck contributors, Grangers, kids with all your fun energy and curious minds, growers, harvesters, our precious elders, singers and drummers of Whistling Elk, Longhouse community from Cottege Grove, those of you who brought prayers and good words to Longhouse today, those of you who helped with set-up and clean-up both days at the Grange--we THANK YOU with all our hearts. This was truly one of the best interactive community events R.E.D. has had the honor of hosting. We shifted gears in a big way in recreating our fall event--from our EcoSymposium of years' past to this Native Harvest Gathering, which is now officially our new fall event. Our motto was that we, as a community in R.E.D., were at a point of "putting the microphone down and pushing our sleeves up to DO the work" we'd been talking about doing for years! It's been well worth it. Since there was SO much going on yesterday, I'd like to list some of the things accomplished:

* Trisha was busy most the day canning locally harvested blackberries with her DELICIOUS recipe.
* LaDonna had a HUGE display, along with her famous recipes, of goods she has canned thus far this year.
* Our brother/sister group, Unete, made fresh tortillas from corn they grew and ground up on a traditional grinding stone.
* Unete also helped bring the best tamale-makers AND the best tamales this side of Old Mexico to have at the event!
* Didar provided dozens of pounds of fresh squash, pears, parsnips and other assorted local fruits and veggies which we dehydrated at the Grange.
* We put Danny's homemade smoker engineering skills to the test (along with some great venison also locally harvested) and smoked some delicious meat.
* Michael got to demonstrate his culinary art form in wonderful recipes for pemmican--along with his buffalo, my dried venison, dried berries and his special herbal ingredients, he inspired the pemmican chef in all of us!
* Grape juice was squeezed from the freshly harvested grapes Didar gathered.
* Suzanne and Wylie got us prepared and excited for acorn gathering season! Suzanne gave a talk about acorn and some of the "how to" of gathering, processing and usage.
* Wylie processed acorn from start to finish throughout the day and evening.
* Michael showed us how to parch corn using hot sand.
* Jaimie prepared a traditional soup using wild prairie turnip (Tinpsula), dried meat, dried squash from our R.E.D. garden, corn from our garden and hominy, which we served at the Feast.
* Mary Ann and Vicki made oven fry bread using acorn flour from Wylie's processed acorn.
* Stephanie demonstrated how she makes her WONDERFUL herbal salve from medicinal herbs.
* Nona spoke eloquently about our relationship to medicinal and edible plants found locally and shared her vast information at a table with us—including delicious jams she'd made!
* Pat gave us an amazing education on the importance of bees in our ecosystem AND how important they are to growing foods. He also brought in a bee display and his beautiful products.
* Russell made a drying rack that will now be part of our community for future use.
* Bach-Thor gave us some education about wild nettles and their health benefits and usage.
* Jenet displayed her beautiful natural plant dyes and gave us an education about how certain local plants are used for creating these extraordinary colors.
* The Ashland Youth Council tended the garden all summer--a huge inspiration behind our shifting of events in R.E.D.--and provided corn and squash for the event. Thanks to Zac and Wylie for their diligent caretaking of the garden and to Zac, Wylie and Tasker for harvesting for the Feast this weekend!
* Tom displayed many of his historic wares and of course blessed us with the Eagle Staff posted next to the Drum. He gave a talk about the history and meaning of the Staff and why it is so important. We cherish the protection it brings us at our events and appreciate the education about the feathers.

We as a community brought this together and made it happen, and that is truly the evolution we have envisioned.

We will expand this resource list in the near future to publish on our website so that we all have access to the knowledge shared and exchanged at this past event. In other words, we'd like to make it all "community property." Look for a link entitled something like:

"Native Harvest Gathering 2009: Food Preservation Workshop"

Along those lines, if any of you who made presentations or had information/ demonstration tables have (or can prepare) written contributions to make to this "chronicle," please send them! We'll sort it out and create a big recipe/how to book.

Thank you again for being part of the healing for our future generations.

Danny just said down at the prayer pole as we gave the feathers a blessing, "We don't own any of this. It belongs to our children."

Blessings to all and happy fall Equinox!

Red Earth Descendants