October 21, 2016

Freddie Bitsoie, the museum's new executive chef, shares his background and some new ideas for the Mitsitam Cafe

Chef Bitsoie

Freddie Bitsoie (Diné [Navajo]), the museum's new executive chef, at the grilling station in the Northwest Coast area of the Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe. September 2016, National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C. NMAI staff photo. 

Please introduce yourself with your name and title.

I'm Freddie Bitsoie, executive chef of the Mitsitam Native Foods Café at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Can you share with us an introduction in the traditional way?

I am born of my mother’s clan, the Tábąąhá (Edgewater People). I am born for my father’s clan, the Nát'oh dine' é Táchii'nii (Red Running into the Water People). My maternal grandfather’s clan are the Tł'ááshchí'í (Red Bottom People) and my paternal grandfather’s are the Tsi'naajinii (Dark Streak Wood People). This is how I identify myself as Diné (Navajo).

Where is your community located?

I was born in Monticello, Utah. My mother is from Aneth, Utah, near the Four Corners, and my father was from Birdsprings, Arizona, just north of Winslow, Arizona.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the Southwest, mainly in Arizona. However, we moved around a lot when I was growing up. I like to tell people that I lived in almost every town along Interstate 40 from Albuquerque, New Mexico, going west to the California–Arizona border.

Are you a descendant of a historical leader?

Not as far as I know. I have yet to hear a story of any.

When did you decide to get into the culinary and food industry?

I was a senior in college. My major was Anthropology and my minor was Art History. It started with a conversation with my Anthropology professor, Dr. David Stewart. He asked about my interest in Ancient Puebloan food ways. He encouraged me to look into studying food from a different perspective and to question why Indigenous food didn’t have a prominence of any sort. I left my studies at the University of New Mexico (UNM) and moved to Phoenix to enroll in the Scottsdale Culinary Institute.

I went to learn how the kitchen works and to discover the discipline of cooking. I ended up loving the work environment and the people. As I tell people all the time, “In the beginning, it was the best $8 an hour I made." I didn't go back to UNM, which was my original plan. I stayed in the culinary field.

What educational and employment path did you follow to become an executive chef?

After culinary school in Scottsdale I worked hands-on in a kitchen. For about five or six years I was in and out of the kitchen. Then I got a teaching job at another culinary school in Scottsdale, the Classic Cooking Academy. They no longer give professional cooking classes. I was their director of Native American Programs. Then I stated my own business, training kitchens throughout the continent

What does Native cooking mean to you?

Traditional cooking has much to do with storytelling. I don’t think there has ever been a time when I have not experienced someone telling stories over cooking. My grandmother used to do it all time, no matter if the stories were repeated.

What are some stereotypes you hope to break concerning Native foods?

“Boring," "bland," and "grainy” are descriptions I hear of Native foods. But there are big differences when it comes to these ideas. Foods and dishes are different things. Many people think that Native foods have no capacity for expression, as European dishes do.

What are some challenges you foresee as the executive chef in a Native museum?

My work style is very laid back. I'm not one of those chefs people see on TV throwing things around. I’m passionate about what I do. I love what I do and I am where I want to be. If there are any challenges, I gladly welcome them. I am sure they will only make me stronger. But, to answer your question directly, one challenge will be acquiring very rare traditional ingredients from around the Western Hemisphere.

Who inspired you as a mentor?

The people who have inspired me are the other Native chefs I've worked with. We have the same goals, the same passion about what we do. The directions may be different, but the destination is the same: to promote Native foods and tells stories through food.

What traditional foods are your specialty?

I specialize in southwestern cooking and the differences in the ways tribes cook and prepare food. I also specialize in preparing and cooking game.

What is your personal favorite food to eat?

I love osso buco, which is known as an Italian dish. It's braised veal shank.

What is your favorite food to cook?

I like to cook Italian foods. I enjoy the rustic elegance of most Italian country dishes. They are much closer to Native dishes, just with more cheese. During cold months I also enjoy ground beef and potato with onion and New Mexican green chile wrapped in a tortilla.

Where are some of the places you worked before coming to the Mitsitam Cafe?

I worked for casinos, colleges, and tribes as a consultant and trainer for kitchens and communities—Leech Lake Community College, Sky Ute Casino, Talking Stick Resort, the College of the Holy Cross, Idyllwild Arts. My most recent job before coming to the museum was as executive chef at the Navajo casino in Gallup, New Mexico.

What are some barriers you have faced in redefining Native American cuisine?

“There is no such thing as a Native chef." Or, "There is no such thing as Native cuisine.” Many times when I do jobs around the country, one of the first reactions I get is, “What are Native foods?” Then, "Is there actually a career in that?"

Is there any pressure associated with being the first Native to serve as executive chef at the National Museum of the American Indian?

The changes I plan to bring will be to promote Native foods and dishes that are as authentic as possible. The main source of pressure will be staying true to Native cooking technique.

What food changes or new ideas do you hope to offer visitors to the Mitsitam Cafe?

I feel would like everyone to be able to experience classic dishes from each region. I plan to place more truly classic dishes on the menu.

What educational path and experiences would you recommend for Native people who would like to break into the culinary foods industry?

I would recommend that people attend a college that has a culinary program and taking other classes that will enrich their intellect as well. Many aspiring chefs go to culinary programs at a trade school. But those credits are not transferable, and students often do not have the choice to take classes other than culinary subjects. Not many people make it far in the culinary business because of how demanding it can be, so having credits in other disciplines would be a big plus.

But first, I stress working in the field and getting used to the hours and time—people knowing full well what they will be getting themselves into. I have worked every Thanksgiving since I became a cook. There are hardly any holidays off.

What message would you like to share with young people who are pursuing careers in the culinary arts?

The culinary profession is a very romantic field. Most of the images people see from outside are of chefs traveling and enjoying life. In truth, most chefs wash dishes and mop. Teamwork is the most important thing anyone has to know before entering a kitchen.

It is a great field for self-discipline, spiritual and creative enrichment, and self-fulfillment. Well, that is what it has done for me.

Thank you.

Thank you.

—Dennis Zotigh, National Museum of the American Indian

Dennis W. Zotigh (Kiowa/San Juan Pueblo/Santee Dakota Indian) is a member of the Kiowa Gourd Clan and San Juan Pueblo Winter Clan and a descendant of Sitting Bear and No Retreat, both principal war chiefs of the Kiowas. Meet Native America, his interview series with tribal leaders, appears regularly on the museum's blog and on the Indian Country Today Media Network.


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April 22, 2015

Every day is Earth Day

NMAI from woodland landscape
The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. Foreground, lower left: George Rivera (Pojoaque Pueblo), Buffalo Dancer II (detail). Cast bronze, 2nd of an edition of 4. Gift of the Pueblo of Pojoaque, George Rivera, and Glenn Green Galleries. NMAI 26/7920. For the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest, the Buffalo Dance is an enduring celebration, a prayer for the well-being of all.

The National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., stands out for its evocation of monumental sandstone cliffs and tumbling streams. The grounds that surround the building are a living collection of indigenous plants, and details throughout the museum connect indoor spaces to the natural world. The museum's commitment to the environment, however, goes beyond the building's striking and thoughtful design to engage staff members at all levels—from senior management to cultural interpreters to facilities specialists and kitchen crew.

In 2011, the National Museum of the American Indian became the first Smithsonian museum to achieve LEED status. LEED—Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—is the building rating and certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to promote sustainability in building design, construction, operation, and maintenance. LEED measures nine key areas:

  • Sustainable sites
  • Water efficiency
  • Energy and atmosphere
  • Materials and resources
  • Indoor environmental quality
  • Location and linkages
  • Awareness and education
  • Innovation in design
  • Regional priority

The museum has an active sustainability program and a sustainability committee of staff from various units and departments to monitor museum activities, brainstorm ideas to address challenges, and take follow-up actions. To give just one example, the staff works to improve recycling throughout the museum. New signage in English and Spanish helps visitors and staff be more aware of separating recyclables and compostables into the correct bins. The museum recycles more than 60 percent of total waste and this year redirected 35 tons of material from disposal in landfills to reuse via recycling and composting.

In addition to LEED certification, the museum received a 3-star rating from the Green Restaurant Association (GRA) for the award-winning Mitsitam Cafe. The GRA certifies restaurants' environmental friendliness, including waste reduction and recycling, water efficiency, sustainable furnishings and building materials, sustainable foods, energy consumption, disposables, and chemical and pollution reduction efforts. 

The museum seeks to reflect Native values in all its work. One teaching that comes to mind today is to think in terms of seven generations: Our ancestors gave us the world to keep in trust for our children and grandchildren. Happy Earth Day, everyone!

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August 15, 2013

Who won the 2013 Living Earth Festival Native Chef cooking competition? Everyone who loves blueberries!

This year’s fourth annual Living Earth Festival Native Chef cooking competition began at 12 noon on July 21, 2013, and featured the talents of Chef Freddie Bitsoie (Diné) from Phoenix, Arizona, and Chef Don McClellan (Cherokee) from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Chef Freddie is an independent chef and a scholar of food and culture. Chef Don is executive chef with Cherokee Nation Entertainment in northeastern Oklahoma (and also my son). The special ingredient to be used in each of two appetizers, two entrees, and two desserts is blueberries, a fruit native to the Americas. In previous years the competition has featured other foods indigenous to this hemisphere, including green chiles, the Three Sisters (corn, beans, and squash), and heirloom tomatoes. 

Traditionally Native Americans used blueberries in ceremonies; as food—fresh or dried, alone or combined with other foods; infused as tea; and to trade to other Natives who did not have access to blueberries.

Both cooking teams
The two teams. Don McClellan is 2nd from the left. Freddie Bitsoie is in the light gray smock, third from the right.

The chefs at this year’s competition were assisted by culinary students from L’Academie de Cuisine here in Washington, DC.  Chef Freddie Bitsoie was also assisted by sous-chef Wilma Consul, and Chef Don McClellan was assisted by sous-chef Carlos Castanedas. Karen Saunders (Red Lake Nation Band of Chippewa Indians), Red Lake, Minnesota; Jerome Grant, sous-chef for the museum’s Mitsitam Café; and Patricia Fields-Alexander (Pawnee Creek) from Muskogee, Oklahoma, judged the competition.

Chef Freddie plating cheesecake dessertChef Don plating salmon dish
Left: Chef Freddie Bitsoie and his team get ready to present their miniature blueberry cheesecakes. Right: Chef Don McClellan and his team plate Coca-Cola BBQ glazed salmon with roasted red pepper, corn, and blueberry salsa.

For the appetizers, Chef Don prepared classic gazpacho but substituted blueberries for the tomatoes; for his second appetizer he made blueberry corn fritters (recipe below). Chef Freddie prepared Kwakiutl-style crab fritters with blueberries and mixed greens and a blueberry-glazed shrimp appetizer with Navajo corn. For the entrees, Chef Don prepared Coca-Cola BBQ glazed salmon with roasted red pepper, corn, and blueberry salsa (recipe below), and roast duck breast atop sweet potato and blueberry puree with grilled asparagus; while Chef Freddie prepared posole with blueberries (recipe below) and pan-seared mahi mahi with blueberry sauce, served with a bean ragout. For dessert Chef Don prepared a parfait of fresh blueberries with crème fraiche and blueberry cinnamon fry bread topped with fresh blueberries, while Chef Freddie prepared fresh blueberries with a blueberry syrup glaze and a blueberry cheesecake (recipe below). 

Three judges
Judges Karen Saunders (Red Lake Nation Band of Chippewa Indians), Jerome Grant; and Patricia Fields-Alexander (Pawnee Creek).
After all of the dishes had been taste-tested by our panel of three judges, everyone’s attention turned to the two folks charged with tallying the results. After several minutes the scores were complete, and the winner of this year’s Native Chef Cooking Competition was Chef Freddie Bitsoie. In spite of the intense outdoor heat everyone participating had a great time. Our thanks go out to all of the many volunteers and sponsors who made this year’s competition such a huge success.

Chefs congratulating each other

Chefs Don McClellan and Freddie Bitsoie congratulate each other on a wonderful competition.

The chefs generously shared four of their best blueberry-centric recipes. I hope you enjoy them.

—Carolyn McClellan

Carolyn McClellan (Cherokee Nation) is the Assistant Director, Community and Constituent Services, of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

All photos are by Katherine Fogden (Mohawk), NMAI.

To see a video fo the competition, scroll past the recipes below. To browse all the videos from Living Earth Festival , visit the museum's YouTube channel.

Blueberry corn fritters 
Chef Don McClellan 

1 dozen ears of corn on the cob, husked 
4 oz flour 
2 oz sugar 
1½ tsp salt 
1 tsp pepper 
2 eggs, beaten 
4 oz cheddar cheese, shredded 
8 oz fresh blueberries

1. Cut the kernels from the cob. Scrape well to release all milk.

2. Blend the dry ingredients.

3. Add the corn, eggs, and cheese. Mix to make a batter. Fold in blueberries.

4. Heat oil to 350°F and drop the batter by spoonfuls into the hot oil. 

5. Fry until golden on all sides. Allow to drain.

Serve immediately.

Makes 30 fritters.

Posole with blueberries
Chef Freddie Bitsoie

3 tbl oil
1 lb pork butt, diced
2 tbl paprika
2 tbl cumin
1 to 2 cups red chile, pureed
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz tomato sauce
2 cups cooked hominy
1 cup fresh blueberries
28 oz chicken stock
Bay leaf
1 thyme sprig
1 lime, zest and juice
Cilantro (for garnish)

1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil and season with salt and pepper; sear pork till skin forms, then remove.

2. Sweat onion, thyme, and bay leaf in pot.

3. Add paprika, cumin, lime zest, and lime juice.

4. Add pork, garlic, tomato sauce, pureed red chile, and chicken stock.

5. Simmer till meat is tender.

6. Add hominy and fresh blueberries and adjust seasoning.

7. Garnish with cilantro. 

Makes 4 servings.

BBQ glazed salmon with roasted red pepper and corn salsa 
Chef Don McClellan

Coca-Cola BBQ sauce

3 oz unsalted butter
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium-sized yellow onion, minced
1½ cups ketchup
½ cup cider vinegar
¾ cup light brown sugar 
2 tbl Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup tomato paste
3 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp kosher salt
Ground black pepper as needed
12 oz (1 can) Coca-Cola 

1. Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add garlic and onions and cook until translucent and soft (approx. 6 to 8 minutes). 

2. Add tomato paste and cook until sauce begins to caramelize (approx. 3 to 4 minutes).

3. Add ketchup, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, chipotle powder, salt, pepper, and Coca-Cola. Bring to a simmer and allow sauce to cook and thicken, approx 30 to 40 minutes. 

4. Serve immediately or cool and refrigerate until use. 

Makes 2 cups 

Roasted red pepper and corn salsa 

2 red peppers, roasted and julienned
1 roma tomato, diced                        
¼ cup red onion, diced
½ bunch cilantro, chopped
 ½ cup blueberries, fresh
1 lime, juiced 
½ lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients for the salsa together.

Allow flavors to develop by making at least 30 minutes prior to service; for best results make 24 hours in advance. 

BBQ glazed salmon

2 6-oz salmon filets, skin removed 
4 oz Coca-Cola BBQ sauce
Vegetable oil as needed (approx. 2 tbl)
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Season salmon with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a medium-sized sauté pan over high heat; pour in oil. Place salmon in pan skin side up; regulate the heat so as not to get the pan too hot. (If you see continual smoke from the pan, reduce the heat). 

3. Allow salmon to cook in pan until you see the edges start to turn an opaque orange color, rather than the vibrant orange raw color (approx. 4 to 5 minutes).

4. Turn salmon over and immediately brush the seared side with BBQ sauce. 

5. Cover the sauté pan with a lid and continue cooking until the salmon is done (approx. 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness). 

6. Remove pan from heat and brush more BBQ sauce liberally over salmon. 

7. Place salmon on plate and top with approx. 3 to 4 oz of salsa. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 6-oz servings. 

Recipe can be served with any starch of your choice: mashed potatoes, rice pilaf, roasted sweet potatoes, couscous, or wild rice. 

Blueberry cheesecake 
Chef Freddie Bitsoie 

1 ½ cup finely ground graham-cracker crumbs
6 tbl butter, melted
1/3 cup agave
4 oz. cream cheese
2 cups whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla
4 oz. dark chocolate, grated (keep cool to avoid melting)
½ cup frozen blueberries
1 lemon, zest and juice
1/3 cup agave
1 packet gelatin (7g)

1. In a small springform pan mix the graham cracker crumbs, butter, and 1/3 cup of agave and press into the bottom of the pan, forming a crust.

2. Using an electric mixer, cream the cheese, blueberries, lemon zest and juice, and 1/3 cup of agave together.

3. Bloom the gelatin with boiling water; set it aside to cool slightly ( keep the gelatin warm enough to stay liquid).

4. In another bowl, whip the cream and vanilla until soft peaks form.

5. Fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture.

6. Add the grated chocolate.

7. Pour in the gelatin.

8. Stir the cheese mixture until it is one color, then pour it into the springform pan

9. Cover with plastic wrap, place in the refrigerator, and allow to set for about 4 hours.

Makes 1 small cheesecake (4 to 6 servings). 

The fourth annual Living Earth Festival Native Chef Cooking Competition at the National Museum of the American Indian. Washington, DC, July 2013. 

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I love blueberries dish's but i also like that type of group discussion topics. I read your 4 article but i like what you said about "s food—fresh or dried, alone or combined with other foods; infused as tea; and to trade to other Natives who did not have access to blueberries.", I have also been experimenting with pressure on blueberries dish's and beans but i still struggle to get it right..........

GREAT!! Cooking is absolutely my life. And i really thank yo guys for posting and sharing all this stuff all in one blog. I love blueberries and this,Posole with blueberries is I guess a must try. I will surely try it all out. Perfect recipes for my sister's wedding, good food for all, plus a nice wedding entertainment...A total AWESOME.

Thanks for sharing...

July 18, 2013

The 2013 Living Earth Festival—Friday, July 19, through Sunday, July 21

LEFestLogo2013The Living Earth Festival, a signature event of the National Museum of the American Indian, will take place this weekend, July 19 through 21. This annual festival celebrates indigenous contributions to environmental sustainability, knowledge, and activism. For a full listing of events, please see the online calendar or downloadable festival brochure. Here are some highlights for visitors of all ages and many different interests.

What activities can families do together? Adults and children in particular are invited to: 

Lisan wins at Santa Fe 2012 cor
Lisan Tiger Blair with the work that won him 1st place in youth sculpture at the 91st Santa Fe Indian Art Market, August 2012; photo by Dana Tiger, courtesy of the artist.
  • Help release lady bugs into the NMAI garden (outside the museum's South Entrance along Maryland Avenue) at 10 AM Friday.
  • Participate in a sculpting workshop led by award-winning young artist Lisan Tiger Blair (Mvskoke Creek) in the imagiNATIONS Activity Center. There are workshops several times each day. Please pick up free timed-entry tickets in advance at the Activity Center.
  • Join Victoria Mitchell (Cherokee Nation) for a pottery demonstration.
  • See amazing beadwork made by Peggy Fontenot (Potawatomi).
  • Enjoy an outdoor cooking demonstration by Patricia Alexander (Pawnee/Creek) or a cheesemaking demonstration by Nancy Coonridge of Pietown, New Mexico.


20100806_01a_eba_ps_002Farmers market and green-chile roasting, NMAI photo.

For organic gardeners, locavores, gourmet cooks, and just plain food-lovers: During the festival, representatives of tribally owned food cooperatives discuss sustainability, and local famers offer produce, meat, and traditional American Indian foods in an outdoor farmers market. The festival begins for foodies Friday morning at 10 AM with the opening of the farmer’s market and a green-chile roasting (both outdoors in the Welcome Plaza throughout the festival). Demonstrations of traditional Native dishes, including venison stew, corn soup, and grape dumplings (outdoors in the Akaloa Firepit), begin Friday at 1 PM and continue all weekend. Sunday from 1:30 to 4:30 PM, Native chefs Freddie Bitsoie (Navajo) and Don McClellan (Cherokee) will compete in an Iron Chef-style cook off (outdoors in the Welcome Plaza). 

05_20.23211514_crop Don McClellan crop

Chefs Freddie Bitsoie (Navajo) and Don McClellan (Cherokee); photos courtesy of the chefs.

What would a Native festival be without music and dancing?
Live performances begin Friday at 1 PM with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Drum and Dance Troupe. Hawaiian music and dance by Halau Ho'omau I ka Wai Ola O Hawai'i follows at 2 PM, and at 3:30, traditional Marimba music by Pequeña Marimba Internacional. 

Saturday afternoon singer and violinist Quetzal Guerrero (noon), contemporary Six Nations rocker Shawnee Talbot, aka She KIng (12:30 PM), and the LA fusion band Ozomatli (2 PM) join the roster of performers. Saturday evening at 5 PM, the three groups will present a longer concert as part of the museum's series Indian Summer Showcase. All music and dance performances take place in the air-conditioned Potomac Atrium.


Quetzal Guerrero miniShe King mini   


Clockwise from upper left: Quetzal Guerrero; photo courtesy of the artist. She King; photo courtesy of the artist.Ozomatl; photo copyright 2012 Christian Lantry.

Are you looking for a Friday evening program? The film series Dinner and a Movie offers cuisine from our Zagat-rated Mitsitam Café, available for purchase from 5 to 6:30 PM, followed by the movie Watershed, showing from 7 to 8:30 PM in the museum's Rasmuson Theater. Watershed highlights people who live and work in the Colorado River Basin, including Jeff Ehlert, a fly fishing guide in Rocky Mountain National Park, and Navajo Council member Glojean Todacheene. These people convey their new water ethic by sharing stories that answer the question, How do we balance the competing interests of cities, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, and indigenous communities all with rights to water? 

The Colorado River from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon; photo by Michael Quinn, National Park Service.

At the heart of the festival each year is the Living Earth Symposium. For 2013, the symposium presents Tribal ecoAmbassadors Saturday July 20, from 2:30 to 4 PM, join us in the Rasmuson Theater to hear Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists, tribal college and university professors, and Native students describe how Native communities and individuals are developing innovative and locally relevant solutions to protect the environment and public health. Presenters include EcoAmbassadors from the Navajo Nation and the Tohono O’odham Nation who will address grassroots efforts to reduce carbon on their reservations and provide housing in their local communities.

EcoAmbassador David Stone sharp
ecoAmbassador David Stone and students from Tohono O’odham Community College take a break on a bench made entirely on carbon-negative materials; photo courtesy of the EPA.

The symposium and several other events throughout the weekend will be webcast live on the museum's website. A complete schedule of webcasts from the festival, as well as events on the webcast calendar for later this summer, is available in a separate blog post.

All programs and activities are free and open to the public. As noted above, free timed-entry tickets to the sculpting workshop with Lisan Tiger Blair are avaiable in the imagiNATIONS Activity Center; it might be wise to begin your visit there. Indian Summer Showcase concerts are always very popular and Saturday's promises to be no exception. Seating in the Potomac Atrium is first come, first served. 

We hope to see you here!

—Dennis Zotigh, NMAI

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I like the work of Shawnee SheKing, Lynn Talbot (Mirror me, This is me etc). I was trying to see if there was a connection in her work with Aboriginal music. It would be great to live close enough to visit the Living Earth Festival to see such energy and creativity. Living in Australia makes it difficult. I enjoy Rap and Hip Hop and I found one of Shawnee's creations sung in that genre. That such energy and creative minds are also involved in protecting the environment, not just here but also in other countries makes me have hope for humankind. I enjoyed reading about the activities planned, with a big sigh at not being able to be there..

In reply to my own comment I listened to Shawnee SheKing singing "She is King" (rap type). I hear drumming connections with Shawnee drumming and the Mohawk drums I have found on the Internet and the sounds made by Iriquois water drums. Of course this could be entirely in my own head. I also loved the haunting sounds of the Mohawk flute music from the smoke dance.

The music was AMAZING! Especially Ozomatl. I was lucky enough to see their first show back in 1995. I collect water drums- have 4 amazing ones and 1 that I am working to restore. Working on training my voice so I can do something similar like Ozomatl.

@William have you heard of a native american band called Apu?

I recently watched them whilst they were on tour of the UK the music they create is fantastic!

Many thanks

I must say - THIS WAS GREAT!
the world is so small, i watched them too on their uk tour!

really amazing and interesting!

Nice work! Keep going!

keep up the good work guys.... amazing....

The music was AMAZING! Especially Ozomatl. I was lucky enough to see their first show back in 1995. I collect water drums- have 4 amazing ones and 1 that I am working to restore. Working on training my voice so I can do something similar like Ozomatl.

I recently watched them whilst they were on tour of the UK the music they create is fantastic!

Many thanks

I collect water drums- have 4 amazing ones and 1 that I am working to restore.

Great guys! Keep on working :)

Amazing work! Keep going

really it is very interesting and amazing.thank you and good luck

good work keep it up.

Thank You for Sharing Valuable Information.i like this blog and this is very informative.

Really it is a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

The music was AMAZING! Especially Ozomatl. I was lucky enough to see their first show back in 1995. I collect water drums- have 4 amazing ones and 1 that I am working to restore.

July 21, 2011

Living Earth 2011: So many things people love about the museum, all on one weekend

When I began applying for internships this past winter, the National Museum of the American Indian was on the top of my list for several reasons. One was its commitment to showcasing Native voices, an approach that makes it unique among the Smithsonian museums—or museums in general, for that matter. Programs featuring Native performers and artists make the NMAI a living museum, a site for meaningful interactions between the traditional and the contemporary. Another reason I wanted to intern at NMAI was for its beautiful landscape, which serves to establish the museum as an organic oasis amidst the bustle of downtown DC.

Now that I’m at the as a summer intern, I’m thrilled to be working on a program that combines all the things I love about the museum. The Living Earth Festival, which takes place this weekend, July 22, 23, and 24, celebrates indigenous contributions to environmental sustainability and activism. The festival seeks to present both traditional and modern methods of addressing climate change, environmental issues, and health concerns.

LivingEarthFestLogo This year, the Living Earth Festival is being held in tandem with several other museum programs. Conversations with the Earth: Indigenous Voices on Climate Change, a new multimedia exhibition, will open on Friday, July 22, alongside the festival. Also Friday, as part of the Dinner and a Movie series, artist Will Wilson (Diné) will present his Auto Immune Response project, a work that examines humans’ impact on the environment. 

Knowledge and Technologies

The festival will showcase three themes, the first of which is knowledge and technologies. Both Native and non-Native researchers and practitioners will demonstrate how they and others in their fields apply science and technology to current environmental and food health concerns. Friday from 2 to 4 PM EDT, the museum will host a live webcast on diabetes awareness, education, and healthy living with the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) in Albuquerque, NM. Panelists include Dr. Neal Barnard, Margaret Brascoupé (Tesuque Pueblo), and Caitlin Baker (Mvskoke Creek) in the museum's Rasmuson Theater, and Lois Ellen Frank at IPCC. 

Saturday from 1:30 to 4 PM EDT, the symposium Creating a Climate of Change: A Sustainable Future for the Living Earth, featuring Jeremy Rifkin, Gregory Cajete (Santa Clara Pueblo), and Melissa K. Nelson (Turtle Mountain Chippewa), will discuss how we can cultivate a culture that embraces the principles of sustainability. also available via live webcast

Celebration and Ceremony

The second theme highlighted at the festival is celebration and ceremony, which rejoices in and respects the complex relationship between ourselves and the environment. Native performers will demonstrate traditional and contemporary songs, dances, and storytelling that honor our relationship with the Earth. As part of the Indian Summer Showcase concert series, an outdoor concert Saturday from 5 to 8 PM EDT will feature Native musicians including Gregg Analla (Laguna and Isleta Pueblo), the Plateros from Tohajilee, NM,, and the Pappy Johns Band, from the Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario, as well as the Santa Fe Indian School Spoken Word Team. The festival will also include hands-on activities that utilize natural materials and traditional techniques, giving visitors the chance to create their own pottery and make cornhusk dragonflies. 

The Plateros
Plateros, a three-piece family band from from Tohajilee, New Mexcio, the eastern agency of the Navajo Nation, will perform Saturday evening, July 23 at the Living Earth Festival. Photo courtesy of the artists.

Bounty and Artistry

The final theme showcased in the festival is bounty and artistry, acknowledging the Earth’s role in nourishing both our bodies and our creativity. Native artists will demonstrate traditional arts including basket-weaving, bow-and-arrow-making, and carving. Demonstrators will also illustrate traditional culinary methods and dishes. On Sunday, an outdoor cooking competition will pit Don McClellan (executive chef of Atria Vista del Rio) against reigning champ (and Mitsitam Native Foods Café executive chef) Richard Hetzler in a battle to serve up appetizers, entrées, and desserts that incorporate local foods and the traditional Three Sisters: corn, beans, and squash. Each of the competing chefs will be accompanied by culinary students from the DC Central Kitchen. In support of the DC Central Kitchen's Healthy Returns Program, festival-goers will receive a biodegradable totebag as a thank you for making a $10-value food donation such as granola bars, packets of trail mix, individual 100% juice boxes, or individual boxes of raisins or nuts. (Please do not donate perishable items or sweets such as candy or cookies.)

Living Earth Farmers' Market set up 8.6.10 020

The 2011 Living Earth Festival will include an outdoor farmers’ market with fresh produce, New Mexico roasted peppers, and traditional American Indian dishes from local and Native-owned farms and cooperatives. Photo by Katherine Fogden (Mohawk), NMAI.

Local farmers will participate in an outdoor farmers’ market, and each participant will address an aspect of agriculture, covering topics such as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), urban gardening, bees, and commercial vs. free-range beef.

Finally, visitors will be able to purchase green chiles and have them roasted by the University of New Mexico Alumni Association (UNMAA), Washington, DC, Chapter.  Donations accepted by UNMAA for the roasting go to support their scholarship fund.

Whether you are interested in environmental issues, traditional Native arts, or just love great music and fresh food, the Living Earth Festival has something for you! The festival is a great opportunity to experience all of NMAI’s excellent programming, all rolled in to one fun-filled weekend. We hope to see you there!

—Lindsay Inge

Living Earth Festival schedule 2011

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Comments (3)

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I am not sure how I ended up here tonight, stumbling posts does that :-) Sounds like I missed a great festival. I like the idea of technology playing a part in it learning more about where we can learn more about the environment and our food supply. I buy all my produce from our local farmers market and love learning about the different cultures while I am there. I have a lifestyle Blog and am from Minnesota.

Great articles - sadly the main culprit in the lack of empathy for our future is the drive for profits and greed. When we have entities that are nameless and faceless with the only objective being profit then we have a beast that cannot be stopped, unless consumers organize and reject ALL companies who don't adhere to a new human survival constitution. It is modern fascism without nationalism - profits at all costs without loyalty to any nation or even to the human race itself. It can all change by the people for the people but will require a new awakening. Thank you for a great start!!!

Dave Holden/Youth Motivational Speaker/athlete

I have always enjoyed learning about other cultures and I really enjoyed reading your article. It was definitely full of a lot of great insight about the Natives.

I was saddened to be reminded about the mistreatment of these people. How sad and how wrong it was on so many levels.

I thank you for sharing this article for all to see.