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Native American Brookfield college student writes cookbook to highlight indigenous culture

Posted at 4:51 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-07 08:43:26-04

BROOKFIELD — One of the more unique cookbooks has just been released, and it's celebrating Midwestern Native American culture.

"I really wanted to make something new that was a native voice and something that was reclaiming our heritage and our lost knowledge," said Derek Nicholas, a college student from Brookfield. He wrote Eating with the Seasons, Anishinaabeg, Great Lakes Region.

Nicholas comes from the Red Cliff Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa and said he identifies as Anishinaabeg. His book consists of 24 different seasonal meals that are inspired by Native American culinary practices.

"Well, it came together pretty organically. I have a strong interest in food and food sovereignty which is the ideology of - able to provide people healthy and culturally appropriate food,” he said.

Nicholas wanted to give people like him the opportunity to cook foods that connected them with their past and give non-indigenous people a glimpse into Anishinaabeg culture.

The recipes range from squash soups for dinner to berry-filled snacks. The meals are categorized by months to signify the importance of the passage of time and our powerlessness to the seasons.

"Moons kind of indicates the changing of seasons and what's around, and what's going to be around, what's coming up. We look the moons to signal how we should live life, so I kind of broke up into that because each month has different foods that are in season," Nicholas said.

At the end of the cookbook is an Anishinaabeg-English translator. Not only is this keeping Indigenous Midwestern culinary practices alive, but it's keeping the language alive as best it can

"That's also another thing that been lost. I mean, there's not many fluent speakers left, so now it's time for my generation to take up those reigns and recover those lost strains of our history.”

There are no pronunciations of the words in the book, though.

"A lot of the words that I have are lost words that can't be found on online resources or dictionaries. I could have added some pronunciations, but I couldn’t have done them for every single word, so I just decided to just not add them and let people try them for themselves."

A free version of this book is available to download, or you can buy a paperback version.

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