Want to help revitalize Native food traditions?

Learn how while participating in food demonstrations, medicine making and plant walks

Studies show that returning to a more traditional diet can help Native Americans improve health and reduce problems such as diabetes. People from throughout Indian Country have put those findings to work and are contributing to the revitalization of Native food traditions.

Many of those individuals will gather to share stories about how they have successfully steered their communities back to traditional ways of eating during Northwest Indian College’s (NWIC) Institute of Indigenous Foods & Traditions first annual conference, Our Food is Our Medicine: Revitalizing Native Food Traditions.

“We are hosting this conference because we believe it’s important to honor the work that is being done to revitalize Native food traditions,” said Meghan McCormick, coordinator of the Institute of Indigenous Foods & Traditions, which is a program of NWIC’s Cooperative Extension Department. “Our traditional plants program receives requests every year to present at various conferences, and now it is an honor to host our first annual conference that will bring those involved with this revitalization together in one place.”

In addition to keynote speakers from the Alaskan Native Tribal Health Consortium and the Vancouver Island & Coastal Communities Indigenous Food Network, the conference will include plant walks, medicine making, interactive workshops (such as big leaf maple tapping) and traditional cooking demonstrations.

“Get ready for some delicious traditional cooking demonstrations,” McCormick. “We will be roasting veggies in a pit oven, cooking salmon and clams over an open fire and showcasing cooking in a bentwood box.” 

Not only will the conference feature dynamic speakers and unique hands-on classes, it will also feature meals made from traditional food sources in the region.

The conference will take place Sept. 5-7 and will be held at IslandWood, a unique and beautiful outdoor learning center located on Bainbridge Island, Wash. The cost, which includes meals, is $225 for the full conference or $100 for Sept. 5 and $125 for Sept. 6. Package deals, which include conference fees, IslandWood lodging and meals, are also available: the cost for two participants who share a room is $330 per person; the cost for three participants who share a room is $300 per person.

For more information, contact Meghan McCormick, Institute of Indigenous Foods & Traditions coordinator, at (360) 594-4099 or mmccormick@nwic.edu. To register, visit conta.cc/QdYHrp.