Hello–I spent a lot of time watching (and helping) my family do food demonstrations at the tribal resort. They would blend legends together with explanations of food preparations and the role of food in American Indian culture. This blog is an opportunity for me to share my memories and how blessed I have been. In my work I’ve traveled around the world, and experienced the kindness of indigenous people not only in Canada and the United States, but other countries as well, including Indonesia, Guam, Sai-Pan, and other places where Native culture (and food) is still strong. One of my uncles used to jokingly refer to me in the Agency Longhouse as “that Coyote fella,” although my actual Sahaptin name is Xaiyama-yai Aswan, which roughly translates as “Spirit of the Golden Eagle Boy.” I think it’s because years ago I was asked to give the opening address at an International Conference on Human Sexuality. Our Clinical Director said at a staff meeting, “I’ve never heard you talk about sex before, but the other stuff you talk about is so interesting, I’m sure you can handle sex as well.”
I went to my mom and asked, “what should I tell all these White people who are coming from around the world about Indians and sex?
She said: “Go talk to your Uncle Rooster.”
And I did. He looked at me and said–“Tell ’em about Coyote’s Growing Medicine.”
And so I did. I also gifted a carved Coyote fetish to the organization, which I’m told is now passed from president to president along with the wooden gavel.
I’ll save Coyote’s Growing Medicine for another time…
In the photo I’m holding a Coyote head dress I sometimes wear when I’m dancing at powwows. If I’m going to be called “that Coyote fella” in the Longhouse, I might as well act like one…
But for now—
There’s a lovely Cherokee story that says a young man fell in love with a young woman. But she was shy and pretended she didn’t notice his attention. He prayed to the Creator for help, and the Creator took pity on him. Wonderful red berries began to appear in front of the young woman. She reached down to pick their sweet brightness, and as she slowed down, the young man was able to catch up with her and let her know how much he cared for her. This was the origin of the strawberry. The “Virginia strawberry” of this story is Native to North America, and what most people these days know from the supermarket is a hybrid derived from the tasty berry.
Doesn’t a bowl of fresh strawberries sound great about now?