First Nations offers a taste of wild, wonderful

Heather McDaniel

The 14th  Annual First Nations Food Taster event will be held from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7 at the D.J. Jacobetti Complex Commons. All proceeds will benefit the Native American Student Association’s (NASA) annual “Learning to Walk Together” traditional powwow held in the winter semester.

The purpose of the event is to raise money but also bring awareness that Native Americans do still exist. The Taster provides guests with an array of traditional and contemporary Native American dishes. It’s a tasting event of foods that could have been eaten by Native American ancestors. From year to year, depending on donations and what is available, dishes are subject to change.Courtesy Native American Studies2

The food menu will consist of a wide variety of samples of foods that most people would not generally have available. This includes foods such as bison and venison meatloaf, pecan encrusted whitefish and three sisters casserole, a mixture of beans, corn and squash.

Only the first 100 people in line will have an opportunity to try the whitefish.

“Community members tell me they look forward to this event every year,” Director of the Center of Native American Studies April Lindala said.

Guests are asked to bring a dish bag to the event to help reduce waste. It should consist of any item needed for a meal including a plate, bowl, silverware, drinking container and a napkin. The dishware should be reusable and unbreakable.Also at the event, there will be a raffle to win prizes. You don’t need to be present to win but you must be 18 or older to enter.

Planning for the event starts at the beginning of the fall semester, said Native American Student Association Secretary Hallie Sutton.

“Over 100 people volunteer for the Taster,” Sutton said. Last year the event was sold out. Organizers this year expect to serve 350 people.

“I would say there is an increase in the number of NMU students each year,” Sutton said.

After completing a block of four hours of volunteer work, student volunteers get a free ticket to eat. Tina Moses, secretary of the Center of Native American Studies, helped create the event 14 years ago.

“I had suggested that NASA and the center co-sponsor an Anishinaabe food tasting event based on the success we had with one we did at Central Michigan University,” Moses said. “I am not sure when it switched to the First Nations Food Taster, but it was after I left in 2005. The term First Nations was used to be more inclusive.”

NASA thanks Chef Kibit and his crew, the NMU departments, the local community and volunteers for their support. NASA said they could not have done this event without their help.

“NASA should be celebrated for their diligence and hard work on this annual fundraiser,” Lindala said. Tickets for the event are limited. Tickets at the door are $7 for NMU students and elders and $15 for general public.