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A Celebration Of Land And Sea: Modern Indigenous Cuisine In New England

A Celebration of Land and Sea: Modern Indigenous Cuisine in New England

Sunday November 13, 2016 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

rsayet-headshot-photoNew England is a region often overlooked in Native American studies. Due to its long history of colonization and assimilation, the myth of the vanishing Indian is most prominent here. Many Americans only learn about the first Thanksgiving, and then Native Americans in New England disappear from history. However, the Native American people of New England never truly “vanished,” and many cultures have flourished throughout the region’s complex history.

Contemporary American food culture has similarly elided its indebtedness to the indigenous people of New England. Traditionally, food here was hunted, planted, caught, and harvested seasonally. Stories and celebrations about food went along with those seasons, and were a way of bringing communities together. Today, indigenous chefs in New England utilize local ingredients such as clams, deer, and corn to create both traditional and modern dishes. Some Native American chefs still use traditional cookware and are much sought after for their clam cakes and Johnny cakes, as well as other indigenous foods.

Through interviews with Mashpee Wampanoag, Abenaki, Mohegan, and Narragansett cookbook writers, food journalists, powwow cooks, and restaurant owners, I will demonstrate how the Native American people of New England have continued to use the same ingredients that were available at the time of the much misunderstood “first Thanksgiving” to create their own modern indigenous cuisine.

Rachel Sayet (Mohegan) is currently the Library Assistant for the Mohegan Tribe. She is also on the board of Directors for Tomaquag Indian Museum in Exeter, RI.  Rachel received her Master’s degree in anthropology from Harvard University in May of 2012, with minors in Museum Studies and Business Communication. While at Harvard she curated an exhibit on the archaeology and history of Harvard Indian College at the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology entitled “Digging Veritas.”  She has written on various topics of Native American life, such as stories, foodways, and sovereignty, and travelled to many conferences throughout the world in order to educate people about Native Americans in New England. Most recently, Rachel has been working on a project about indigenous cuisine. This project has been very exciting because it is the first time she has been able to combine her two passions– food and culture. She first presented this paper at the Dublin Seminar’s “Foodways of the Northeast II: A Second Helping”  Symposium at Historic Deerfield, Massachusetts, where it is forthcoming publication in their 2013 conference proceedings.

Her most recent presentations were at the 8th International Symposium of Ayurveda and Health, Immunity & Inflammation: Integrating Ancient Approaches with Modern Concepts at the University of Connecticut and Dr. Amy Den Ouden’s “Native American Woman” class at UMASS Boston.

Tickets and Reservations

Advance Reservations are closed at this time for the event.
Please call the museum for more information at (413) 322-5660.

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