Got Tradition?

Diabetes rates are on the rise across the country, growing
faster among American Indians than most other populations. In the
last decade, American Indians have experienced a 50 percent
increase in the disease,
Hernandez writes in ColorLines

On some reservations, people are seeking remedies beyond
insulin, exercise and a better diet; they’re suggesting a return to
traditional foods, for both physical and cultural health. Terrol
Dew Johnson, founder of Tohono O’odham Community Action in Arizona,
argues that acquainting American Indians — both young and old —
with traditional, low-glucose foods like tepary beans is good for
one’s body and one’s cultural identity. ‘You’re not just seeing
these beans,’ he tells Hernandez. ‘You’re seeing the whole culture.
That bean holds our language, our songs, our history.’

In northern Minnesota, the White Earth Land Recovery Project
provides elders with packages of wild rice, buffalo meat and other
traditional foods. Many of the elders remember the foods from
ceremonies, and refer to them as the ‘good commodities,’ Hernandez
writes. It’s a way of distinguishing them from the cheese and
canned pork the federal government supplies.
Danielle Maestretti

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