The Cheyenne River Youth Project has will welcome native chef, food historian and lecturer Loretta Barrett Oden to its Eagle Butte campus on Thursday and Friday, August 11-12. Oden is spending two days at CRYP courtesy of the nonprofit, grassroots youth project’s “Learning to Eat Like Our Ancestors” initiative.
Oden, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, will conduct a cooking demo and workshop on Thursday, and a business entrepreneurship workshop on Friday. Both are open to CRYP’s teen interns and interested members of the Cheyenne River community.
CRYP also will be screening a very special episode of “Seasoned with Spirit: A Native Cook’s Journey,” the five-part, Emmy Award-winning TV series Oden hosts on PBS. This program celebrates native history and culture with delicious, healthy recipes inspired by indigenous foods; in episode 3, Oden traveled to the Cheyenne River Lakota reservation to learn about buffalo and preparing the lean, healthy meat.
Not only is “Seasoned with Spirit” a cultural adventure, it raises awareness about the diabetes epidemic running rampant in native communities and attempts to confront the problem by encouraging native people—and all Americans—to reconnect with natural and culturally relevant foods.
“We’ve invited high-profile chefs like Loretta Barrett Oden and The Sioux Chef, Sean Sherman, to our campus because their personal missions align with our own,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We all understand that to achieve true lifelong wellness, we need to address physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Our native communities are ravaged by diabetes, yes, but also by historical trauma. Not only do we need to teach our young people about good nutrition, we must strengthen their connection to the Lakota identity and heritage.”
Born and raised in Shawnee, Oklahoma, Oden has been cooking since she was a little girl and has devoted most of her life to studying, teaching and adapting recipes—and to preserving the culinary legacy of native peoples. She was among the first restauranteurs to showcase the Americas’ indigenous foods, and she currently owns the groundbreaking Corn Dance Café in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
She serves on the founding council of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance with Garreau, Winona LaDuke and other native food leaders. She also is the “Spirit of the Harvest” columnist for Native Peoples Magazine.
“We’re thrilled to welcome Loretta Barrett Oden to the Cheyenne River Youth Project,” Garreau said. “When we strengthen the connection our youth have with their Lakota heritage—through traditional native foods and healthful preparation techniques—that means increased food sovereignty and security for our native communities in the future. We’re deeply grateful to the NB3 Foundation and the Promising Program Grant, because their support has made this program possible.”