The Kahnawake Pow Wow is only in its 13th season and it just keeps getting bigger. Even though there was rain and the chance of rain on both days the crowd was huge. It’s always fun at a pow wow to hear your name being called and see a friend you haven’t seen in quite a while. By the way, for those of you who thought I had my nose in the air (to better smell all the cooking of country food, not snobbery) I called out a lot of times also with a “hey there.” I tend not to use names just in case somebody has changed theirs. Just joking. I met up with an old friend from down south, a Nipmuc by the name of Star. For anyone who made to the one and only pow wow hosted by the Nation in Montreal, he was the English-speaking Master of Ceremonies. He didn’t bring his coyote howl with him this time. As I called out to him he was competition dancing. As a fellow joker I said that I didn’t realize that the Mohawks had lowered their standards and allowed Nipmucs in. I got the stoic Indian look with a little twinkle in his eyes. I also got a few nasty stares from the crowd that disappeared when he came over and hugged me. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years and he brought along with wife Shelly their new son and nine-year-old daughter. This why I like going to pow wows. You never know who you’ll meet and renew an old friendship with.
One familiar booth was that of the Eastern Door. I’ve always wondered about why Kenneth Deer chose the Eastern Door as the name of his newspaper. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the Eastern Door is the only other independent Native media rag in Quebec. It turns out that his home community of Kahnawake traces its roots from the Mohawk village of Ossernenon on the banks of the Mohawk River in New York State. By the way this was before it was called New York. Ossernenon, or Kahnawake, as it was later called, was the Eastern Door of the Longhouse of the Five Nations. Kahnawake, in the Mohawk language means “On the Rapids” and the Kahnawake community on the St. Lawrence River traces its present day beginnings back to 1716. The things you learn at a pow wow are truly varied.
Another booth that caught my eye was the one set up by the people fighting diabetes in Kahnawake. Two pamphlets especially drew me. One was on tips on how to cut down on fat. They say to use less fat in cooking vegetables. You take the amount you usually use, cut it in half. Take one of the halves and cut it in half. Use one of the final halves. They also recommend cooking veggies with things like turkey parts, fresh garlic, onions, celery and bell peppers or lemon juice for a healthy flavour burst. A useful tip is to cut all extra fat from meat. Pull skin off chickens before cooking and throw it away. They also recommend broiling, boil or pan broil you meat instead of frying it. To pan broil meat you use a non-stick low-fat spray in the frying pan. Let it get medium hot. Put the meat without any more spray. Turn it often and drain the fat as it cooks. Throw the fat away. All great tips and something that is of use for everyone.
One last diabetes table recipes was a healthier Indian Fry Bread.
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
4 level tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup warm water
Mix together whole wheat and white flour with baking powder and salt.
Add vegetable oil a little at a time. Use only enough to make the mixture look like corn meal.
Slowly add 1 cup warm water, only adding enough to make the dough stick together.
Roll into fist size balls and let stand in a bowl, covered by a towel for ten minutes.
Fry in vegetable oil until golden brown on both sided.
To make into an Indian Taco put beans, shredded lettuce, tomato and cheese on top of fry bread.
The food smells I was talking about before were amazing and so was my appetite. I had a buffalo burger to begin with. Later on I added the walleye nuggets. Still feeling a little peckish, I had some pan fries. Perhaps not the healthiest of choices but once a year I allow myself to indulge.
Next year allow yourself to indulge in your own way. Whether it’s meeting up with old friends, making new ones, buying native handicrafts and art, dancing, looking at dancing or just plain having fun the Echoes of a Proud Nation Pow Wow in Kahnawake is the place to be.