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Recipes for resistance: Indigikitchen teaches diet decolonization

The creator of an online cooking show is hoping it will help decolonize and  “re-Indigenize” diets. Indigikitchen was created by 25-year-old Mariah Gladstone, who is an enrolled member in the Blackfeet and Cherokee tribes.
Gladstone posted this dish, acorn squash with wild rice stuffing, to her website, which is dedicated to re-indigenizing diets using digital media. (Submitted by Mariah Gladstone)
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The creator of an online cooking show is hoping it will help decolonize and  "re-Indigenize" diets.

Indigikitchen was created by 25-year-old Mariah Gladstone, who is an enrolled member in the Blackfeet and Cherokee tribes.

Through Indigikitchen — the name is a combination of Indigenous, digital, and kitchen — Gladstone creates short video cooking tutorials for recipes that use pre-contact ingredients. The videos are short, roughly one-minute long, and walk viewers through the steps for making recipes like salmon cornmeal cakes, Potawatomi berry rice, squash nested elk, and blue cornmeal pancakes.

Indigikitchen founder Mariah Gladstone. (Supplied by Mariah Gladstone)

"We're able to really demonstrate to people that this is an easy thing that they could do in their own homes and wouldn't take an entire afternoon of prep work," said Gladstone.  "I aim to make things very digestible, no pun intended."

The videos are posted on the Indigikitchen's website and Facebook page, which has nearly 3,000 followers. Gladstone sees family members sharing her recipes and cooking lessons through Facebook, "it's really really cool."

"I see a lot of family that will tag other family members. So, they'll be individuals that will tag someone and go 'We should try this next week grandma.'"

"And then later I may get a message from someone [saying] 'We tried this but we didn't have access to bison. But we had a whole bunch of caribou in our freezer. So we did it with that, and it turned out great,'" said Gladstone.  

People are using Indigikitchen's recipes not only to cook and eat, explained Gladstone "they're also building a culture for their family and their community."

The story of our diets as Native people is really fraught.-Mariah Gladstone

Through Indigikitchen, Gladstone also offers cooking classes and demonstrations, school residencies, and educational lectures. The goal of all this work for Gladstone is to resist the impacts of colonization on Indigenous peoples' diets and health.

Food as resistance

The negative impacts of colonization on Indigenous foods and diets is extensive and ongoing, explained Gladstone.

"For my people, the near eradication of the bison and missing that huge part of our diets and then suddenly having to rely on government food systems. And as a consequence of that reliance and dependency we were no longer able to resist this huge wave of colonization. And we could not bite the hand that was literally feeding us."

"The story of our diet as native people is really fraught," explained Gladstone.

Gladstone also has a recipe for nested elk. (Submitted by Mariah Gladstone)

"And a lot of that was because of food systems being used to control us and to essentially beat us into this level of submission where we would sign treaties, or surrender various parts of our identities and lands."

Gladstone hopes that Indigikitchen will continue to encourage Indigenous peoples to reconnect with Indigenous foods.

"Building strong healthy Native families that are able to feed themselves from the land is resistance in itself."