What Is “Pre-Colonial” Cooking?

What Is “Pre-Colonial” Cooking?


– In my career I’m focusing on
traditional Pawnee foods, before Columbus. So no dairy, no chicken,
no processed sugar. These foods were forced upon us. Because of that we now have
the highest rates of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and it’s proven that when
we stop eating those foods, all of those things go away. (upbeat music) (speaking foreign language) My name is Hillel Echo-Hawk, I am a member of the
Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma. I am also Irish and Athabaskan. I own and operate Birch Basket, which is a catering company. For the most part, the events are small enough
that I can just do it. But then when its larger events, I hire people. People who are helping me
are both gonna be late. It’ll be fine. Both gonna be late. Indians. So the event that
I’m going to cater is the grand opening of the
city of Seattle Arts Gala. I am catering for about 125. This is the largest that
I’ve done for my company. The menu is, the Pawnee deep
preservation blue corn mush, with Ojibwa maple syrup, honey Lakota popcorn, cedar cooked tepary beans, with pine roasted
butternut squash, and sweet potatoes with pecans. I always include
something from my tribe. It’s Pawnee blue corn. You can only get it from the Pawnee Seed
Preservation Project. When I grew up I didn’t have it because I grew up in Alaska. Once I started on this
path and I was like, everybody needs to
know what this is. I typically hire friends. I try to keep it native. Phillip Twist, he was my first boss
actually in the kitchen. And Brit Reed went to the same culinary
school that I went to. – It’s beautiful. – I was a little disappointed
they didn’t order any protein. – Yeah, they’re not
paying enough for protein. – I was really hoping
– They originally – for some Bison.
– wanted like a thousand dollar budget. – A thousand dollars for 150
people. A thousand dollars… – Well, actually it was
the City of Seattle. – for 150 people. We were here until
four in the morning. I got less than an hour
and a half of sleep. (electronic music) The food wasn’t getting
up to temp fast enough. So that set us back. (electronic music) It just seemed like
everything went wrong. Hi Jenny, It’s Hillel. I’m just calling to let you know that I’m running late. I hate being late, I hate it. – [GPS] Head South
on Aurora Avenue, north toward John Street. Then turn right
onto John Street. – If I go back. I’m going in a circle.
– [GPS] Turn right onto Taylor – [GPS] Avenue North. – I’m surprised they
haven’t been calling me. Hopefully, yeah, I don’t
know if I can leave this. I’m so embarrassed. This is not a good look. (crowd talking) – [Female Attendee] I see your
signature popcorn is here. – [Hillel] A
variation of it yeah. – [Female Attendee] How are you? – Stressed out, how are you? (crowd talking) – (speaking foreign language) My name is Hillel Echo-Hawk, and I am from the Pawnee
Nation of Oklahoma. I am very grateful
to have been asked to prepare this meal. It was a great honor. It’s all precolonial. I don’t feed our
people colonial items. Please enjoy. This event was not typical
of a Birch Basket event. So many things went wrong. But people loved the food. You know, I had a couple
people ask me for recipes even. So that was good. In 10 years, I see
myself still catering, still doing pop-ups, still doing education. What I would love to
see is every tribe in their schools have gardens. Teaching kids how to grow
food like we used to. If you are part of the
agriculture, then it helps with that
trauma that we’ve had. Pressure to cook a meal
for some indigenous people, some people in
the film industry. – I only got two dishes to
represent myself and my peoples, so I gotta bring it. – I’ve never had
any food like this. – [Woman] Have you
never had rabbit?

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