Medicine for the Resistance
Medicine for the Resistance
Indigenous Foodways with Sara Calvosa Olson

Indigenous Foodways with Sara Calvosa Olson

Food is about connection, about family and community. We all know this. But it is also about relationship to land and place. It contains language and history as well as a way forward. Find one native plant, one thing in your backyard or the place you live. Learn everything about it. Tend it. Take care of it, and be taken care of in return.

Sara:  Well, I grew up part most well part of my childhood in Hupa on the reservation, and I live in the Bay Area now. And I realized how disconnected my own kids were and how, you know, I just I felt like okay, I have failed them and so I needed to find something to connect them and I’m a food writer so it just seemed like a natural progression

Patty:  to, to connect them through food and through cooking?

Sara:  Yes, and gathering and kind of starting to begin to access that rhythm, which, you know, I think is the most important part to understand your natural environment around you, because we're all not really oriented toward gathering anymore. So I wanted them to be able to access that rhythm and connect to it a little bit. So, which is like, you know, the cycle of an oak tree, for example, that was really where I started, the cycle of the oak tree, just to, for them to start to understand the cycle, the oak tree and a mast year what that means and just to sort of start to, you know, pay attention and, you know, be observant.

Patty:  So I think like almost everybody else with this pandemic, we're all planting seeds and promising ourselves that this is the year that we're going to have a garden and almost half of my seedlings have died because I put them outside because it was warm and sunny, and then I mean,  we’re in southeastern Ontario, so Or southwestern Ontario. So we've had snow in over the in the last week. So because that's what May is like around here, and you know, so half my poor little seedlings have died and I'm, I'm really not a gardener. I'm a very reluctant gardener.

But when I go to the grocery store, I buy the same vegetables all the time, right? Like I've got the same, you know, half a dozen vegetables that I buy all the time. But what I decided to do was subscribe to a CSA box, because I thought, well, if I can't be a gardener, then maybe I can support one. And part of that was uh, you know, it's kind of my long winded way of getting to my point is, part of my decision to get the CSA box was that connection to that rhythm, to the seasons, to eating what's growing, as opposed to whatever is getting shipped in from wherever because these are the six vegetables I'm used to eating.

Sara:  Right and California Indians are a you know, we did have some really really well developed proto agricultural techniques. So we, this was a highly tended environment. So connecting to that rhythm is really the very first step to, you know, stewardship, essentially.

Patty:  So what kinds of things are you looking at when you're looking at that rhythm when you're looking at the land around you because I'm thinking, you know, I've been writing recently about the land is really the first relationship that we need to restore.

Sara:  Mm hmm. Well, I started with an acorn.  So everything has a cycle and there are some things that are really prolific I guess, in our in our culture, and that's acorns and salmon. So both of them have very, you know, well defined rhythms and, and circles of life.

So, really, it was just starting to connect them with that by taking them gathering and even if we didn't find anything, you know, just being out there and kind of absorbing that natural environment, you know, is how we really started. And then also bringing home all the, acorns are intensive. So, you know, it's a lot of work, you're bending over and you're picking up acorns all day and you get these buckets of acorns. But then there's also the work of, you know, cracking them, cleaning them and leeching them and all of that. So while you're doing that, you're also talking and telling stories, and, you know, just kind of imagining what it must have been like back then. And we have all these modern tools, I have a blender, things like that. So, you know, just talking about that is, is really how it started. And helping them to feel more connected that way.

Patty: Kerry, that made me think of you talking about braiding.

Kerry:  braiding?

Patty: Yeah, because it's labor intensive thing that you do. Together?

Kerry:  Yes, you know, it's so interesting. Uh, you're quite right there. There are some similarities in that space. And interestingly enough today, a conversation came up with my daughter in regards to us doing a traditional braid, which is called cornrows and cornering is very much an afro centric tradition that came over from Africa to us and all over the West Indies. And my daughter, I have two daughters, and one of them has really stepped into her creative ability with braiding. And she just was so excited to show me this brilliant design that she had put together in one of her client’s hair type thing. And you know, we were talking about it and I was like, well, where did it come from? And she goes to me, you know what, mom? I don't know. I just felt it. It had to come out. And it was such an amazing experience to see her take something that does come from our cultural roots and understandings and create this beautiful masterpiece in this guy's head. It looked like all of that, and then some.

And not only did it do that for us, I have another daughter who has worn dreadlocks since she was seven years old. And she's now 21 and we chose two weeks ago to pull her dreads down. So we unraveled them and we're doing a whole offering and ceremony around the dreads and that experience of it coming down. And now my older daughter, the one that had that fabulous design experience is now going to teach her how to do cornrows and stuff because this is the first time she's even experienced her own head and so you're quite right. It really does tie in that you know we have to build these relationships in ways that are native to us that are in our traditional ways of being,

Sara:  oh, I, I totally agree with that. Just kind of my whole my whole deal is, is starting with something traditional and then kind of putting my own twist on it. That's really, really though, my whole deal.

Kerry:  I really respect and honor how you are bringing back the links of the traditional into the spaces of the modern,

Sara:  That has been something that I spent a lot of time thinking about, and talking about and really, you know, treading as carefully as I can. So, you know, as far as traditional recipes go, I feel like there has to be a separation. There is what is for us and what could be for the public. And I think that's what I I'm trying to, I think I think it's important for everybody to learn how to access these rhythms, not just me and my children. And, you know, I think it's important for everybody, because we all need to get on the same page about, you know, climate change and the environment. And I think it's because everybody is so disconnected.  But you know, that's my personal theory.

So having this opportunity for people to maybe look out their window and be like, oh, there's all these acorns in this park or something like that, and to start to understand that they can play even a small role tending and becoming tenders of this forest, as we know as well. So I think that's where I have to have to be careful about that, because I  really want it. I want to have a partition; I want it to be separate. But I also know that there are ways that we could potentially engage the public, you know, for the greater good and I think there's something about labouring together you know, when people are working together and doing labor together, you know, for your, for your family in a subsistence kind of way. There's something about that that's really grounding.

Kerry:  I love it. I love it. And I it really speaks to me. You know, as you were speaking, I was thinking about traditional dishes that come out of out of the West Indies. I'm of a West Indian background, my father being Bajanm. And my mother is Antinguan and the Bajan national dish, it's a dish called Cou Cou, and flying fish, which is it when you mentioned acorns and salmon. It kind of brought that to mind because for us cou cou is made from cornmeal. And, and it actually comes from Africa. They have a dish, very similar and also all through the West Indian Islands. They had traditional dishes that are built around this cornmeal experience. So, like Africans call it fou fou, if I remember correctly. And we have our own versions of it. So it's that is also another space where for especially for some of us who've been so disassociated from our original roots, you know, the food is a way that brings us into our knowledge of that, that spaces of our of our lineages and histories. And even though we may have added different twists, it's still is that space that we can all come together.

Sara:  Mm hmm. And it's the cornerstone of everything really is food for, you know, for us. So it leads to language and talking about these foods, and telling stories in our own language and trying to maybe even name these dishes that we're making that are different in our language is it really, it really just sort of leads to this whole big tree of different, you know, cultural connections that we can, you know, access?

Patty:  Yeah, it was it was making me think because also Kerry, when you had talked about braiding, and you know, and having young women come in who you know, were maybe they were foster kids, and feeding them, their West Indian dishes, like, you know, finding out where they were from, and then cooking them the meals that, you know, maybe their grandma would have made them if they had access, you know, contact with their grandma. And just kind of how powerful that is a way of reconnecting food is just like, you know, like you said, food, food is just ..  I think we all we can think about, you know, meals with families and how every society has things built around communal meals. I don't think there's any culture on earth that doesn't have, you know, significant events that aren’t celebrated with food. So, you know, reclaiming food in this way is so interesting I noticed you call yourself the frybread riot. So what is Pacific Indigenous frybread like.  Because I know what Ojibwe fry bread is like.

Sara:  Well so the reason that I had that was because originally I was doing some silk screening and I my friend an old my old friend from childhood might still my best friend but you know, she always would send me little clips and be like, there's gonna be a fry bread riot, right for sure if there's not enough food, so we just cracked up at the frybread riot for you know, pretty much forever.

So that so I started doing some silk screening to take back to our basket Weaver's gathering. I wanted to make some t shirts and hoodies so that I could give them to them for the raffle. Which is that's so that's why I started this, the frybread riot.

So that's how it started but our frybread at least a mine is very simple. It's just flour, baking soda, and water, no and milk, I do half water, half milk, and it's very light, you just fry it up. And it's a very light frybread and then we put beans, although there's some like contention about whether or not the beans and the meat mix together, I keep them separate. But my friend she likes to combine them and call them chili beans. So she puts the chili beans on the frybread with the you know, with with the lettuce, tomato and salsa, stuff like that.

Patty: So when we traveledthrough the Southwest, we had Indian tacos everywhere and they were different, like whatever nation, whatever tribe we were driving through, they were they were all different. It was really, if we can and that's an example of I mean, that's not our traditional food, right like we weren’t making rye bread, we didn't have wheat flour. But you know, you've made bread out of acorn flour I, as I'm looking at your insta, I see a very, you know, or on your website, there's a very nice picture of an acorn and a corn loaf and my kid made some frybread. So I don't know, maybe we did have a different version of it. The cat tails, don't cat tails have something in them that can be a leavener?

Sara:  I think so. Yeah, I haven't done any cat tail dishes yet. But um, you know, but as far as frying goes, they still you know, they did acorn crackers are kind of traditional the way that we cook our acorn. Our acorn soup is with hot rocks that have been, you know, sitting in coals for a long time. So you put the rocks into the basket and you stir it up and keep putting new rocks in there and until it's boiling and bubbling and then it gets thick and everybody eats it. But those rocks when you pull them out are  still have acorn soup all around them, and they're still hot and cooking. So when you peel it off, it's kind of a crispy little cracker that comes off after it's cooled. So it is a little fried ish, in that respect, because it's, you know, got that kind of.

Patty:  Okay that's really cool. So now I have to tell a funny story about maple syrup, because you talked about dropping in hot rocks. So every spring, the story goes around social media that the native people made maple syrup by dropping hot rocks into, you know, into the maple sap. And that is just so completely ridiculous. We did not do that. We had clay pots, and we boiled things, like could you imagine how sticky those rocks would be? And how long you would have to do that because like, you have to boil this stuff for hours and hours. Right. So you know, so anyway, this friend of my son's goes off about it every spring because he sees the posts and just you know how ridiculous that is. But we did. Heat  soup that way, you know, we did heat water that way. And an interesting thing that that does, what happens when we drop the rocks in is that also leeches out minerals,

Kerry:  I was just gonna say,

Patty:  you know the iron and magnesium and what other minerals are in the rock. And I heard this speaker talk once about how we're rock people, you know, because we have all these minerals in us and that when you think of the lifecycle of say, phosphorus, phosphorus goes right through us, right? Like, we take it in, it becomes part of us, and then it goes on into the great circle of life. So I just think that's really a neat thing that you know, about, you know, cooking with the hot rocks. I don't know, in a weird way that also speaks to our connection with the land, right? Because then we're actually ingesting the rock.

Sara:  Right and it can't just be any rock, it has to be a specific rock, you know, a specific type of rock. So that's just another way as you know, looking for rocks which is when you know, kind of a when I first started this, my sons were through river and they were so excited because they found some great rocks at the river. And that was one of the first things that they had done independently of me, you know, being like, you know, okay mom I guess we’ll go crack acorns or whatever, this was really something they did independently of me is looking for these rocks after we had been telling the story. So seeing that kind of like, you know, blossom inside them independently was is has been really cool.

Kerry:   Absolutely. That's what it feels good when you know that the traditions are being passed on and not just passed on it like it's intuitively taking its own shape.  So you know that, that to me is why we are all here.

And even hearing the stories really is bringing me back to some thoughts in my own understandings of things. Like take, for example. You know, traditionally my grandmothers and my Aunties we all use like an iron an iron pot. And they're the you know, they like these things are like rock solid man, they're heavy boy, you want to lift some weights , these pots are there. But he would traditionally use these pods and put them over. And especially they would have these these ovens that are made out of. They're called coal pots and they're made out of clay and it's red clay that is organic to the Antiguan soil, and the pot itself has a ton of iron in them. So it's been interesting. I've been using like our traditional pots and stuff like that here, our local commercialized stuff. And I decided two days ago, that what I'm going to do is make sure that I go back to our old traditional iron pots. They're tougher to find, but you mean I I have had one since I've had my own kitchen since I was 18 years old. And this pot cooks food. I just used it today. And like this pot cooks food beautifully. It seasons, everything so well. And, you know, these are pots that we have used from as long as we can. And I know they probably come out of a colonial space. But the coal pot itself is is a beautiful analogy and rendition and I can imagine my grandmother and my great grandmother holding that pot, you know, on top of that coal pot cooking organically as they used to, you know, 50 years ago. And it's that's same feeling, right?

Sara:  Yeah, absolutely. And ingenuity like that and adaptability that is a cornerstone of what it really means to be Indigenous to a space and things are constantly changing. And that was, you know how we had managed , how we learned so much really is is by observing all of the time and adapting and changing and what that seems like there's nothing more Indigenous and being, you know, able to pivot when you need to, you know, so

Kerry:  change, right? Absolutely the truth absolutely are our truth.

Patty:  So this is this is my kid he's on. He's on Twitter as @foodgetter.

Ben:  I'm just gonna be a fly on the wall

Patty:  where you were just talking about passing the knowledge on down from you to your kids. In our family, it's going up from my son to me. Because I'm, you know, I'm the grocery store person, you know, ordering online at bulk barn and picking my stuff up and Ben’s out bringing bring it home handfuls of scapes, and nettles,  and all kinds of good stuff

Ben:  ramps

Patty: ramps, that’s what he brought back.

Sara   I love it. It's ramp season right now.

Patty :  So yeah, so Ben had also leached acorns and made some flour and it was very labor intensive.

Before I started recording, we were talking about how kind of overwhelming it can be when you think that yes, you know, there's all of this food that we can gather and traditional things that we can do and it can be overwhelming and, and then you don't want to do it because it feels like it's just like, like, it's just too much.

Sara:  I think it's okay to start small and do you know, to focus on maybe one thing, which, you know, there, there has to be there has to be some integration because again, we are, you know, adaptable and pivoting all the time. So, there you know, we live in the world that we live in.

So, I think I feel like there is a way to integrate these traditional foods into our diets by, you know, and everything that that entails like telling stories about them and maybe just picking one thing like picking, you know, like picking ramps, or an acorn or something like that, and, and really learning everything about it and the stories, traditions, whatever you can in that respect, and then finding ways to integrate that into your regular, you know, your regular diet, essentially.

Which is what it feels like really is what I've been doing mostly is taking one ingredient and then exploring it as much as I possibly can. And all of its different environments, all the stories and all of the different ways that it could potentially be prepared either traditionally or, you know, using modern tools, things like that. So

Kerry:  I'm curious. So when you chose to walk this path, and explore what was your first thoughts like what was the first one you wanted to choose?

Sara:  I went with an acorn because I had read a story. One of my favorite stories is about the acorn maidens and it's one that has always stuck with me because it's one of those stories that you pass down it helps you identify which acorns we like the best you know. And so it's a creation story based on the acorn maidens and I always thought it was a really funny story and it helped me identify,  I'm a writer so I that's really how I came to this. I'm a food writer and I was writing and you know, doing a lot of interviews with ranchers and farmers and things like that just really wasn't my favorite space and I wanted to you know, and then this you know, I just kind of really wanted to connect with my own kids and in a different way. So that's, that's where I started was with storytelling, and starting with this story of the acorn maidens and I just thought it was so great. And it helps us identify the tanoak acorn, which is our favorite and she has this wild hat that you know, it was inside out in the in the story and that's how you can identify her because her hat is inside ou,t her basket cap is inside out and all of this you know all of the sticks are poking out everywhere. And if you see a tanoak, acorn, all of all of the, the its little hat has all of these little spiky little sticks poking out around it. So it was this way to help identify it. And I thought it was really sweet. So I started there with the story. And the story sort of became, you know, everything else was really the beginning was storytelling for me but for my children, it's been food.

So there's different pathways to connection but for me it started with the story and then has just really snowballed.

Patty:  It has snowballed like your Insta is full of beautiful pictures and you know and then your website is loaded all you know with all these beautiful recipes and all articles and the newsletter that you promised is coming.

Sara: I think when I had started that I was really, it was just the beginning and then everything kind of just really happened so quickly it started writing a regular column in News from Native California. And that was really kind of how it all started. Now I'm working on this larger project, which is a

California Indian Almanac and cookbook type of thing. So it's very California centric, but that's what I'm working on right now. So I feel like every minute I'm, I'm really working toward this end goal.

It was so so much about my family, really, just really about my family and what I could do to bring them along with me, you know, and that was really it. My children are getting older and I was feeling this crunch, like wow, I don't have very much time left with my children that you know, when they're little, it's like an  eternity, but now all of a sudden, it's they really are putting, you know, on the gas pedal as far as growing up, and I thought, I really need to maximize this time with them in a way that's really meaningful and that really connects us in a different way through their teenage years, which was just a very different time, and difficult for me to connect with them as teenage boys. And so this really was all about that and how I could connect with them on a different level than I did when they were children.

And feeling like I maybe had done them a little bit of a disservice by not bringing them up in this way. And, and I think that also speaks to, you know, how I grew up and all of you know, all of that, all of that whole ball of, you know, wax and trauma that you know, the way that I grew up. So, not necessarily wanting or you know, not really wanting that to leak into I was doing with them I really wanted it to be something that was pure and wholesome and positive and and I just didn't know how to do that until this sort of just happened with the you know, till I was reading this story about the acorn maidens one night and I was like a light bulb went on so

Ben:  from your website I saw coffee and juniper brined venison.  I've always had weird luck trying to flavor things with Juniper Did you have a interesting time experimenting with that or

Sara:  right so Juniper is one of those things where you because I feel like you les is, s you definitely want to err on the side of less because it can be very, like, you know, menthol kind of thing like it's like almost like fresh Bay has that really like eucalyptus menthol  type of aroma and flavor. So for me the juniper and the coffee really paired well together and did not have that such a menthol kind of flavor instead it ended up being more well rounded and complex. So I would err on the side of less juniper. But you know, a coffee Brian is is pretty wonderful. I know it seems counterintuitive but for venison and that like I know a lot of people don't don't necessarily love venison. It has it can be gamey. And it depends on you know, where you get your deer and stuff. So the coffee brine really brings that out and it doesn't taste like coffee. I promise and it will be overwhelmingly juniper either.

Ben:  I'm gonna give that a whirl. I just never occurred to me to try coffee and Juniper.

Patty:  I'm looking at the buttermilk, chocolate a orn bread too. There's a lot there's a lot of there's a lot of recipes in there.

Kerry: Fascinating

Sara:  Well, and I I feel like there's not enough recipes really. I have so many and I and I feel bad because I do hold a lot back because I have this other project going on. So I don't necessarily post everything and I like for it to be coming out in the magazine first and then once everybody's seen it in the magazine, then I'm, I'm okay with putting it up there, you know, for everybody in public, so, and I just have been really lax about updating it but I mean, I have so many so many recipes. So

Patty:  you had said earlier about some, some foods being for us and some foods being for everybody.

Sara:  Well there. So I think that their food is very intertwined culturally. And, you know, it's ceremony and ceremony is sacred. So that's, there's, you know, there's that kind of a partition there, between what is for the general public, and what is for us, and that we want to keep in our community and not give away too much of that. And I think that already so much has been taken. And so many have been taken advantage of that leaking out anything just doesn't feel like a good idea. At this point, I would rather, you know, preserve what we have for ourselves and as a community, which I think is special and should be, you know, preserved and grown. And while also having this other, you know, community of everybody else that you want to kind of bring along into a stewardship mindset, as well.

Patty:  There's a restaurant in Toronto that sells that serve seal meat. It's called Kukom Kitchen. So right. Joe Shawanna is the chef there, and he wanted to bring, you know, kind of country foods, traditional foods, kind of, you know, out into the spotlight. And there's a lot of mixed feeling on it I think not, I mean my feeling on it is it's it's a pricey restaurant to go to it's not cheap. It's not you know, nobody's going there every well, I don’t think so I can't afford to go there every week. It was because it's not cheap. And seal meat, like, do we really want everybody eating it? Do we want it you know, kind of broadly, you know available in the grocery store like everything else because you know when you're looking at then that kind of level of food production, or do we want to keep it? Okay maybe a couple but even when you're putting it in the high end restaurants then who is that for? Then? It's still not for us, right? I mean, it was really good. I've been to Kukom Kitchen a few times and I get the seal every time because it is it is good. But it's that kind of mixed bag of we want people to to recognize what's ours and what's Indigenous , well seal isn't ours, it's Inuit, tut at the same time, we don't want it exploited. And you know, and then there's two ways of exploiting it right? There's the high end market, which well then Who is it for? And then there's the broad market, which is then it gets it gets over fished and Greenpeace turns out to be right. You know, but you so there's that kind of fine, you know, fine balance in terms of the Inuit also have a right to support themselves.

Sara:  Absolutely. Right. So I think that for me, if there's any confusion about that, or if there's any pushback, I tend to err on the side of not doing something. And I think that and there are people that are, you know, are super supportive and, you know, go out and but then there are other people that are very reserved, and I understand that and I try to, I try to honor that opinion, almost more so than anybody else because that, that means that there's something that they are very attached to and that would be painful to have that go out into the public. So it’s something that they are still holding on and, you know, very, you know, important to them. So I don't want to, you know, take that away. It feels like a theft of some kind. So, trying to make my own way, while also, you know, it's yeah, it's a difficult it's a it's a fine line. So making my own way, while also embracing all of the things that I find culturally important values wise and environmentally and you know, it's complicated.

Patty:  It always is, yeah, because we, we want to participate, but we want to participate on our own terms. And so much of what we have, you know, what we still what we still have is precarious,

Sara: right? Mm hmm. Right, exactly. We don't want people I don't want to be pointing people into a direction like, you know, go here together in this patch, and then have all the basket weaver's mad at me. It’s like a lot of, you know, a lot of vague generalities while also trying to give people this incentive, you know, to make this really cool food with something that might be in their backyard. It's really about tending, again, tending again, and everybody, you know, tending their own particular space that they might have if they have a backyard or you know, whatnot. So, even if you have a, you know, a park or something like that, being more attentive to that,

Ben:  I like what you're saying what was being said about keeping some things for us, like, you know, out here in our corner of North America. Like, I'm sure you've heard about how ramps used to be abundant all across North Eastern US and then you know, settlers show up and don't know how to pick them. You know, and it's like, you know, it's this weird line because like, you want to get people out there picking and because I find like the best way to get people to care about the landscape is to have them experience it with their stomach and their taste buds, right? One of the one of the best ways, but you don't .. Yeah, like you were saying, you don't want to send them out after just anything. So I tried like I even fairly common things I try to or can be sensitive if everybody else wants to go get him. So, like, I try to steer people after like, you know, nettles, lambsquarters, burdock, wild onion, things that might not necessarily you know, there’s certain certain plants it's kind of like, the more you pick them, the more they'll produce.

Sara: Right. So I feel like that is a good point about your intentions when you're out there gathering. And how I would send people out into the world is to how can you be of service instead of what can I get? How can I be of service and then connect with this particular you know, natural environment or biome that I'm in? How can I connect with that be of service and then and then received this gift back? Now it's like a different mindset. It's not necessarily it's ramp season I'm going to run out and get all the ramps I can find.  it's more like how can I go I need to go out and make sure that there's enough ramps and I need to make sure that they're growing. And if they are, then you know, a couple for me. And then like, making sure that even I take my you know, be careful harvesting them so I don't take the roots out or you know, something like that. So, or if I do I actually replant all my roots but you know, I think that's the the mindset that going into it has to be about service and not necessarily what you can get

Ben:  You say it’s  like understanding the lifecycle of the plant inside and out. Like you need to know does this like disturbance? Does it like know, does it reproduce romantically? Or does it need to go to seed every time it wants to make me wait? If it's only chance to photosynthesize before   the canopy unfurls, you know in my in my hamstring, you know, all of it’s growth by thinking surely.

Sara:  Yes, exactly. That's that that is a connection. Mm hmm. Right. And then, you know, tending can all is also about not just about, you know, gardening essentially, but it is, you know, you, you can't let something overrun. So that's another thing like we with acorns, you do you have to gather them, and it's healthier for the tree itself if you gather them, especially the ones that have little moth holes and burn them and get them out of there. And that so you know, and then you take the rest basically and then you take more acorns you take for the second drop or something and you take them home. So you do need to, gathering is an important part of tending. So, coming at it, though, from a place of service, like you said, where you're finding every you know, you're learning everything you can about this one thing And then you know how to take care of it, which is really what our relationship is. So that stewardship wasn't there, isn't it? Um,

Patty:  Wasn’t there, oh, Yosemite park where they had come in and they had seen just how beautiful and how beautiful and pristine it was, and all of that and so they decided to close it off and make it a park and got the Indigenous people out and it basically all went to shit. Because the

Sara:  That’s basicallyall California. The entire state of California in a nutshell,

Patty: Got rid of the Indigenous people and it all went to shit.

Sara:  Yeah it’s true.  Our waterways, everything our savannas, our coastal prairies, all of these different environments. It's just gone to shit.

Patty:  Yeah, but I mean, because when like they see us in there, and they see us as not using it. Right, you know, they because they're, you know, looking for a European garden, Right?

Ben:  Or worse. They're like, those crazy Indians are burning everything what's wrong with

Sara:  it's true, right? Or they're they also look at it from a really like greedy I have resource extraction. And really just cordoning off this potential, you know, it's basically just letting their money sit and grow. And they'll come back to it if they need it. If resources depleted to the point where we needed to cut down every tree in Yosemite, they would do that. So that's really I think what  parks are, is just a resource bank.

Patty:  Yeah, and not seeing us as an integrated part of that, like what you described, you know, and what Ben talks about with with the nettles and the burdock is, you know that that's a kind of garden that doesn’t look like a European garden, but keeping all those things in relationship and Indigenous people were part of tending and making sure that everything, everything was good. You had talked earlier. Before I started recording about something that they burned in a circle, and then they planted and I thought ,

Sara:  Oh, the red maids, right so in a lot of our tribes are, you know you use seeds for sustenance and I was writing an article about the Amah Mutsun and their traditional lands are in the Santa Cruz area, which is a coastal region in California. And then they're doing some restoration there and I was asking them about their traditional foods and they were telling me about the red maids, which are these little flowers and they make tiny little seeds. They're just tiny. And I don't know, I don't know how they could possibly even gather so many to feed like a large number of people but they did. And they used to have these little circles all over. You could see them all over the hillside and you know where they burned the circle and replanted every year. So they would plant, they would make a circle for each year. They had it their membership grew in their tribe, they would make another circle. And that was kind of like their little garden patch, you know. So they were doing that type of agriculture back then,

Patty:  When that we were talking about with Delessin a few months ago about, he's a Catawba. And you know, he's talking about gardening and about controlled burns, because certain kinds of sunflowers which had a root, you know, a tuberous root that you could eat, would only grow after a burn, and that this had basically been lost. And he found it like you had talked about with the acorns, with the story, he found it in a story about I think it was a rabbit who had gotten, you know, a branch on fire and went running through, and it was told as almost this cautionary tale, but it was also a lesson in controlled burns that you need to burn things in order, in order for these flowers to grow in order for the sunflowers to grow which are food. So it's just

Sara: Right.

Patty:  It's just so interesting to me how much stuff is contained in these stories?

Sara: Exactly. It's true burning us has been so important and the tribe has been doing a lot of work in that particular area.  As far I think there it's even like, I think they've even partnered with the Forest Service to teach them how to do controlled burns. And because our, our basket weaving materials are really dependent upon burning the year before. Som and basket weaving is such an essential part of our cultural activities. And so they have really been active I think, Bill Trip, if you want to if you ever want to do a show about burning them Bill Trip of the  tribe is doing a lot of really amazing stuff in that in that area.

Patty:  If yousendt me his email address, I will totally, we will totally do a show with him.

When Europe colonized itself, that was how thing that Tamare had talked about when we you know, when we talked with him a few weeks ago, I find these conversations are all connected, right? Everything that happened, you know, you know, every time we talk to somebody, I'm always like, well, it's like this conversation in that conversation. So yeah, like Tamari had talked about how Europe had colonized itself, and colonization is really an act of separating from the land, right? So you know, kind of commodifying everything and disconnecting people from the land. And so they did that first in Europe. And then they did that again here. And like you had said, it's, it's really not working, they keep doing the same things over and over again, you know, moving the native people off the land so that they could farm all over the plains and moving the Japanese off the land, you know, in the internment camps so that they could get so that they could get the land there. And you had said that they're continuing to do that over and over again, and like you had said, it's not working. They're blowing through the land and sucking up all the nutrients out of it, and moving on to somewhere else and it's not working, but it's like the only strategy they've got ,

Sara:  right It seems bizarre. It's like you've been doing agriculture for, you know, thousands of years and you just still don't know how to do it very well, the amount of water intensity that I mean, it's just I don't get it. I don't understand how they're not they don't learn anything after thousands of years. But  

so I mean, in the Central Valley, they've got the Central Valley project there, and it's all ag big Ag and corporate ag under the guise of being a family farm, and it may be owned by a family, but you know, like Devin Nunez, owns a farm out, you know, was is a family farmer.

So they have all these farms out there and they have depleted the groundwater and they need water from other sources to you know, there's almonds, which are really water intensive, and don't even stay in the United States. These almonds are shipped outside of the US but, um, you know, and so they're running out of water, but so then they passed when like it gets political as well suddenly start like, you know, making deals with politicians and to try to get the water. And that's really, it's just like this has been going on for so long and we're, you're still this is still your strategy is to buy politicians and then steal the water until it's all gone, then move on to the next place, get as much water as you can till it's all gone. And then I guess, hope that your kids find a water source. It's it's very, very short term thinking.

And even I feel like that's another difference is that whe,  there's a difference between somebody who is like a fifth or sixth generation rancher in California when you're like I'm a 600th generation Californian. There's a different mindset there completely. And like I'm looking 600 generations into the future. And this is more like this. It seems like they're not necessarily concerned about what they're gonna leave their children or their children's children. So it's very exploitative. Is that the word?

Patty : yeah, well that's the relationship difference, right? They're really, you know, having having a relationship with it versus seeing it, you know, as a commodity, something that you can just extract from it and then move on.

Sara:  Right?

Ben: wealthy people suck at having relationships with themselves and each other let alone the land

Patty:   turn them off, put them in mushroom suits, make them into useful compost. That's my motto. Well, while we’re talking,  Jeff Bezos is on track to be a trillionaire

Sara :  Oh, it's so gross. I just think

Kerry:  What does that even mean? Like when you think about that reality of you know, this conversation is we've been talking because when you were saying that they're not concerned with what is being left with the legacy is for to their children. What the idea of legacy is, is their money.

Sarah: Right.

Kerry:  Maybe they, you know, maybe there's the thought process is they'll be able to buy themselves into whatever is left around, though, you know, you can see how it's, it's, you know, the snake eating its tail Really? And it brings to mind how important these conversations are, how important it is for us to talk about the relationships that we have with the land and bringing that as a frontal reminder as that you can't get away from it. You know, the earth, our relationship and how we are perceiving it is never going to take the place of being a trillionaire If you ain't got the land, what are you a trillionaire of? Right? Like?

Sara:  Yeah, I think everything is so fragile right now. I think people are starting to feel the fragility around them. And seeing that the only thing that is really solid is what we're standing on. And how solid is that? Really, you know there's a it's unsettling, you know, when you start to look around like oh wait a minute, I don't know what's going on actually this tree looks dead. It's so it's, I think that's what's going on. It's very unsettling right now and people are not quite sure where we stand and then looking more you know outward as far as like natural environment goes.

Kerry:  I find it interesting how we are going back to the land. People like myself who this this I'm just going to show you guys my plant. This is the only aloe vera plant. This is this is the only one in the house.

But yet, I still have this desire to grow this. And it is where we take our comfort from in spaces and times like this is that we are going back to the land. We are going back to what feels normal. Where our comfort comes from in our natural way of being. and I are going to see that that's going to be the next step of this. That to make sense out of the senseless we have to go home.

Patty:  Well, I think if we're going to restore things, our relationship with the land is the first thing we need to restore. That's it. Right? You have to figure out even even me who is not a gardener, I got to figure out a way.

Sara: gardening is hard. Some people are really, some people are really good at it.

Patty:  My  mom,

Sara:  I don't My mother was an amazing gardener. I don't please don't give her a lot of credit for many things, but she was an amazing gardener. And, you know, I just I feel like that's also something that

Oh, that was another thing actually, that I did want to talk about was I you know, actually I do need to go but I did want to talk about that at some point again, about gardening and what that means and, and how we can use those little things that one little thing you have in your garden that you can grow, maybe you're not very good at growing other things, but how? How these, like kind of little farmers markets are popping up like little tribal farmers markets where people are growing things. And, you know, that seems very real to me very, very solid community wise, like growing something and then you're out in your community and you're sharing it. I think that's very real and very important.

Patty:  Yeah. So we'll pick one thing.  Pick one thing, one thing you can gather one thing you can grow, pick one thing, right?

Sara:  If I can send you anybody away with a message, it's pick one thing, just pick one. And, you know, learn everything about it. And even if you think you know everything about it, there's always a story or something that you can uncover later or something you can learn about it. There's,  it's never ending and that's the beauty of it,

Patty:  and Ben says if that one thing is stinging nettles, that's great.

Sara: Sure. Mm hmm. Absolutely.

Kerry:  Thank you, Sara, on that note, its’ been a delight. Thank you so much. I really enjoyed the gentleness of this conversation. I appreciate you.


Thank you so much. This was my first podcast.

Kerry: We gotta have you back 

Patty:  bye bye

Sara:  anytime. All right. Take care.

You can find Medicine for the Resistance on Facebook and the website . Don't forget to rate share and support us by buying us a coffee at   You can also support the podcast and so much more by going to  You can follow Patty on Twitter @gindaanis and at  you can follow Kerry @kerryoscity  and find her online at  our theme is fearless.


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Medicine for the Resistance
Medicine for the Resistance
An Afromystic and Anishinaabekwe talk about everything
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