First Nations elder shares traditional food knowledge

Lorraine Yuzicapi is an elder from Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation and nationally recognized as a traditional foods knowledge keeper. CBC’s Brad Bellegarde sat down with Lorraine Yuzicapi following her keynote address at the Treaty 4 gathering in Fort Qu’Appelle to discuss traditional foods.

Yuzicapi comes from a family of 15 and said she's learned about traditional foods for about 60 years

Buffalo are traditional food in First Nations culture. (Jenn Smith Nelson)

For Lorraine Yuzicapi, traditional foods has been a way of life for her family ever since she was a young girl.

Yuzicapi is an elder from Standing Buffalo Dakota Nation and nationally recognized as a traditional foods knowledge keeper.

CBC's Brad Bellegarde sat down with Lorraine Yuzicapi following her keynote address at the Treaty 4 gathering in Fort Qu'Appelle for an interview with Sask. Weekend's radio show.

"Our dad used to say: 'This is the way we eat and we prevent illnesses,'" said Yuzicapi.

Yuzicapi comes from a family of 15 and said she has been learning about traditional foods for nearly 60 years.

"My father hunted, fished and gathered — we all gathered — and we also had a big garden, so we never ran short of any food," she said.

Food and its preparation

When a buffalo is killed every piece of the animal is used for food or medicinal use. But, there is protocol that comes before the consumption of buffalo.

Yuzicapi explained a ceremony is held before the kill, followed by a sweat and prayers with the animal. The kill happens the following morning.

"When the animals eat the grasses and plants that's all medicine." she said. "It's all stored in their intestines ... and their stomachs."

Yuzicapi said "it's a smelly job" but there are people designated to extract the medicinal concoctions stored in the animal's carcass.

The heart and tongue are boiled. The broth is consumed during ceremonies while people fast. She said it's the most nutritious part of the meat and raises energy levels.

The hind quarters and other "meaty parts" are dried and the bones are saved.

"Every part has some value and nutrition to our people," she said.

With files from CBC Radio One's Saskatchewan Weekend