Decolonization refers to the process of undoing colonialism and its effects. In the U.S., people from Europe colonized land that had already been inhabited by indigenous peoples and forced them to assimilate into American culture.
“When I hear the word decolonize, I think about what makes colonizing successful, which is the erasure and invisibility of a certain people that existed in history and play a really significant role but are often overlooked,” Valerie Segrest, a member of the Muckleshoot tribe and a native foods nutritionist, tells KIRO Radio. “So promoting the visibility of [native] traditions and culture and history is the work of decolonizing.”
A decolonized meal will look different for everyone, says Nephi Craig, a chef and member of the White Mountain Apache, in an interview with Vice last year. Learning what foods are native to the region you’re specifically living in is the best place to start. You can also prioritize sourcing your Thanksgiving table locally, buying from Indigenous food businesses and local farmers as much as possible.
One dish Craig recommended making to honor Indigenous people is the “three sisters,” which is equal parts corn, beans, and rice. “This is the gateway dish to decolonizing your diet, and it will add the history of Native Americans to any Thanksgiving spread,” he said.
Or join a reclamation feast cooking demo: Chef Crystal Wahpepah, ethnobotanist Linda Black Elk, and Sovereign EarthWorks founders David Rico and Reignbeaux Cuahuitl are hosting a celebration of Native food and food justice in partnership with the Museum of Food and Drink on November 23, 2020.
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