My Standing Rock Experience
I spent last week visiting Bismarck, ND and the Standing Rock reservation in ND. This was a trip devoted to learning Native American methods of sustainable agriculture and introducing our program to the tribe members there. The people of Standing Rock, often called Sioux, are members of the Dakota and Lakota nations. We met members of several bands including the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota, Mandan, Hunkpapa, Blackfeet, and Tanktonais.
One couldn't help but despair at the 79 percent unemployment rate on the reservation. Still, we seized the opportunity to meet with the farmers, ranchers, and administrators on the reservation. With their 496,000 acres devoted to ag and 1.751 million acres devoted to grazing, we were confident we could find some common ground regarding agriculture and sustainability. I won't bore you with the technicalities of the meetings.
About the food: Fry Bread, Fruit Pudding, and Soup prepared by Loretta Bad Heart Bull
We were greeted with open arms. We were served two native meals. I tried Wigli Aguyapi (sioux fried bread) for the first time. Fry bread is not necessarily considered a native food by all tribe members, since it originated when rationing began on the reservation. It was sweet and fried. Better tasting than a doughnut, especially when dipped in the Wojapi (fruit pudding) they served to us; they served wild chokecherry/strawberry wojapi for lunch and blueberry wojapi for supper. Wojapi is sensational.
For the noon meal they served Papa na timpsula Wahampi (dried buffalo and wild turnip soup). The wild turnip is also called breadroot. It's small and white and not spicy as compared to the traditional eurpoean turnip. In the evening, they served Hehaka Wahampi (elk soup) with homini, dried corn, and green onion. Although I didn't eat the meat, I did sample the broth and vegetables.
The generosity in the midst of poverty was notable. We were treated with warmth and courtesy. There was certainly an element of awe and respect for the natural environment and a sense of calmness that gets lost in our routine hustle and bustle. It gave us an opportunity to step away from our desks, offices, research labs, and libraries. I learned about the importance of creative vision in sustainable ag, and I nestled into an even more commited relationship with sustainability.
Other noteworthy stuff:
I slept in a sleepnumber bed for the first time. 60 was too firm. 30 was a little too soft. 45 was just right.
I witnessed blessings from elders of various tribes in their native languages.
I learned the term "forb".
I met author, professor, and lecturer Donovin Sprague. He played the flute for me.