THE STORY OF FRY BREAD
cultural power and controversy...

Fry bread is the most widely recognized food associated with Native American culture, but it is a relatively modern and often controversial addition to our dinner tables. Before the colonization of North America, our ancestors were healthy and strong because they were active and subsisted on a diet of corn, beans, squash, wild foraged berries, greens, wild rice, fruits, nuts, seeds and game that provided complete and balanced nutrition. With the arrival of European colonizers and the eventual Westward expansion of settlers, the crops, wild plants and animals that had sustained our people for generations were systematically destroyed by warfare, modern ranching and development. Tribes were forced from their ancestral homelands onto reservations, often far removed from their traditional hunting and foraging grounds. This resulted in a massive loss of culture and access to that healthy and balanced traditional diet and lifestyle, and created a dependence on government assistance for sustenance in the form of commodity foods like refined flour, sugar, and lard. Our ancestors took these ingredients and created fry bread to sustain our people through times of starvation and desperation. Over the many years since, fry bread has become a staple in Native American homes. At many of our traditional events and gatherings it would be unthinkable to serve a meal without it! The best fry bread is both light and heavy; a crispy, airy, comforting piece of home that also bears the weight of our oppression. A reminder of the suffering our ancestors endured that we might live and thrive today, and a celebration of the continued survival of our people in spite of tremendous adversity.

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Making fry bread with OsiyoTV

A typical emotional response to a big plate of fry bread at the powwow.