Rick recalls the songs sung while pounding corn. Ceremonies, songs and stories accompanied all aspects of the food cycle – whether for growing, gathering, hunting or fishing. Do group research on songs that relate to food activities in your area, and practice it together.
In the hunting practices of the Haudenosaunee, nothing of the animal was wasted. If your group includes carnivores, prepare a meal (or two or three) from a whole chicken. See how many different dishes you can make from the animal.
Use the dating game questions from the video to explore the diverse cultural histories within your group, either as dialogues in pairs or in a group circle.
What Indigenous groups live in your territory? What can you learn about its history and food practices? How would they answer Rick’s dating game questions?
Many of the core values and practices that Rick presents in this video were brutally attacked, prohibited, and disrupted through a process of cultural genocide led by colonial powers. Research that history in your own context. In Canada, learn about some of the efforts to defend the land and culture (such as the Oka crisis, Idle No More movement, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, land claims and pipeline protests, etc).
Patty Loew, Ph.D., is Director of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Research at Northwestern University and a professor in the Medill School of Journalism. A citizen of Mashkiiziibii (Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe), Loew is a former broadcast journalist in public and commercial television and the author of four books.
Is there anyone who doesn’t love a good story? The Haudenosaunee have a cultural treasure in Rick Hill, who is a master storyteller. Watching Hill’s video reminded me of the stories my own Ojibwe uncles were forever telling my cousins and me. The stories were told so often that we knew them by heart. They became cherished memories and with the passing of that generation we tell them to our own children as a way to connect them to our collective past.
Native people know the power of narrative and the beauty of circular storytelling. Hill moves seamlessly between history, agriculture, spiritual beliefs, and environmental activism. Sovereignty underpins every story, from the meaning of the Two-Row Wampum and Chain of the Covenant to lacrosse and the Oka Standoff. So does gratitude and appreciation for beauty. Hill’s reverence for the traditional food of the Haudenosaunee people and the reciprocal relationship he sees between humans and seeds is clear in his stories. There is kindness and humility in his voice. This is the power of Native storytelling–of the oral tradition. Could words on paper ever convey such cultural strength and texture?
I was particularly moved by the question, “What fictional place would you most like to go to? ‘The SkyWorld,’” Hill tells us and adds that he hopes it is not fictional. This—the oldest of his stories– gives us insights into Haudenosaunee values and how his people see themselves connected to all life. The oldest story affixes to the future—the ability of the Haudenosaunee to adapt to new ways. In closing he tells us he hopes that we will leave enriched. We absolutely do.
The Earth to Tables Legacies collaborator Rick Hill has created three videos of his power point presentations introduce us to the history, philosophy and food legacies of the Haudenosaunee, also known as the Iroquois Confederacy (French) or (in English) the Six Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora). Watch the first video here:
Rick brings his special humour to the task of introducing the Haudenosaunee to settlers by adapting the typical questions of a dating game. Through this device, he weaves his personal story with the creation story, the original instructions, the construction of the Iroquois Confederacy, the treaties that still guide us, the impacts of colonization, forms of resistance, and the food practices all shared through various forms of artistic expressions (many of his own creations).