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Old 03-19-2012, 10:18 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by AmigoKumeyaay View Post
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Food and its preparation are integral to Native American cultures. Dishes like fry bread embody the traditions of a shared community and provide generational linkages to a story of survival.

Fry bread, although now ubiquitous throughout North American tribes, originated in 1864 when the Navajo people were forced off their land in Arizona to walk 300 miles to New Mexico by the US government (also known as the “Long Walk”). In this new climate, the Navajo could not easily sustain their diet of vegetables and beans, so in order to prevent starvation, they were given government rations of canned foods, flour and lard. Upon adding a healthy pinch of ingenuity, the fry bread was born and has since played a central role in Navajo identity.

Fort Sumner The Long Walk, Navajo at Bosque Redondo



Fry bread, a flat disk of flour and water fried in oil, is cherished by the Navajo, and eating fry bread has become emblematic of preserving their culture. Fry bread tacos are fry bread topped with meat, shredded lettuce and cheese and are served in restaurants and at powwows.

In more recent years the fry bread has been getting a bad rap, being cited as the cause for the high rates of obesity and diabetes among Native Americans. This reality is aggravated by larger problems of limited access to health care and nutritional education on reservations, where many live below the federal poverty line. And although contemporary dialogues around Navajo identity has posited the fry bread as a conflicted symbol, one thing remains certain about the fry bread: it is more than just good eats.

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Every Indian nation has its unique story of catastrophic contact with the expanding European settlement of the continent. Nonetheless, there are reoccurring patterns in these stories, like the forced removal of Native communities by foot to distant reservations so that their more favorable native grounds could be taken by the government, settlers, or commercial interests.

For the Navajo, this was “The Long Walk” to the Bosque Redondo reservation in Southeastern Arizona of about 10,000 people, a walk during which over 200 Navajo died. Scandalously conceived in its nature and similarly ill-conceived in its practical effects, the resettlement, like others, was a disaster, and the Navajo were permitted to return home in 1868.
Great article about the origin of Navajo frybread!
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