10 Traditional Native American Recipes You're Going to Love During the Holidays (2024)

Native American Foods You’ll Love

The Holiday Season is filled with traditions, especially food traditions. You’ll love these Traditional Native American Recipes, including some common in the Beautiful Badlands and Grasslands of North Dakota!

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Bison Herd in Winter at Golden Hour, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. Read about viewing bison in winter here: Stay warm in your car and view magnificent bison!

Bison

Native Americans of the Upper Great Plains relied on a meat heavy diet. Bison was the primary source of protein for the traditional Native American diet. Elk, antelope, deer, rabbit, porcupine and prairie dog also provided meat.

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Traditional Wahonpi Soup Recipe from Delishably.com
Wohanpi is a traditional soup that is still very popular in Lakota country today. In years past, wohanpi would have been made with bison meat, prairie turnips, and blo (wild potatoes)
https://delishably.com/world-cuisine/lakota-traditional-foods

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Instructions for Traditional Wahonpi Soup Recipe from Delishably.com

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Bison Chili Recipe from the cookbook Native American Recipes, A Taste of History. A publication from the Partnership with Native Americans. www.nativepartnership.org. Follow their Facebook page, Partnership with Native Americans .

Beans, Squash, Corn, Sunflowers

Assorted beans, squash, corn and sunflowers were staples. Root vegetables and berries and dried fruits were an important part of the diet as well. Native American Foods Throughout the United States, from Powwows.com provides a good source of information about this.

Woodland Indian Educational Programs offer a tremendous resource about Native American planting and food.

Prairie Road Organic Seed Company, North Dakota, Fullerton, North Dakota (sign up for their Farm Fresh Recipe Book) features several traditional dried bean varieties, all common among the Three Tribes of North Dakota (Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara):

ArikaraYellow Bean

Prolific heirloom bush variety, listed on Slow Food USA Ark of Taste. Excellent for use as a baking bean. The seed was originally obtained from the Arikara tribe of North Dakota by Oscar H. Will & Company and introduced in 1914 as part of his Pioneer Indian Collection. This is the same variety collected by Lewis and Clark in the early 1800s. Yellow-tan seeds with red-brown eye rings. Drought tolerant, hardy and very productive.Phaseolus vulgaris (80-85 days) Plump, dark red, dry beans originally grown along the Missouri River Valley of North Dakota by the Hidatsa tribe. One of the most productive dry beans available for prodigious harvests and long-term storage of high quality, high protein staples. This bean was introduced by Oscar H. Will & Co. in Bismarck, ND as part of his 1915 Pioneer Indian Collection. Semi-vining, productive bush plant will climb to three feet if given support. You’ll be gifted with plump red beans, very similar to the kidney bean for use in chili, refried beans, and humus.

Hidatsa Red Bean

Phaseolus vulgaris (80-85 days) Plump, dark red, dry beans originally grown along the Missouri River Valley of North Dakota by the Hidatsa tribe. One of the most productive dry beans available for prodigious harvests and long-term storage of high quality, high protein staples. This bean was introduced by Oscar H. Will & Co. in Bismarck, ND as part of his 1915 Pioneer Indian Collection. Semi-vining, productive bush plant will climb to three feet if given support. You’ll be gifted with plump red beans, very similar to the kidney bean for use in chili, refried beans, and humus.

Hidatsa Shield Figure Bean

Phaseolus vulgaris (90 days) This variety is native to North Dakota, grown by the Hidatsa tribe near the Missouri River. Drought and heat tolerant, it is one of the most productive dry beans. It was grown in the Three Sisters Garden, allowing it to vine on the corn. We grow it next to Red Kaoliang sorghum, providing a living trellis for the bean to climb, eliminating the hassle of putting up and taking down a fence or trellis. This beautiful, large, plump bean can be harvested throughout the growing season… providing you with green beans early in the season, followed by shellies (shelled out while the bean is formed but still soft), and, at the end of the season, as dry beans for long-term storage! This highly productive bean variety was named to the Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste for its wonderful flavor and cooking qualities. We use it in soups and stews, as it reheats nicely, without falling apart. Also makes a wonderful humus in place of chickpeas.

Seed Saver Exchange in Decorah, Iowa is an excellent source of heirloom seeds. Those of Dakota Native American Tribes are:

Mandan Bride Corn

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Attributed to the Mandan tribe of North Dakota; this Native American flour corn was planted by Mandan women along with beans, sunflowers, and squash. This corn with its colorful autumnal kernels, some of which are striped, can be used in fall displays or ground into corn meal. Plants will produce several 6-8” ears on 6’ plants. 85-90 days. ±2,100 seeds/lb.

Arikara Sunflower

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(Helianthus annuus) Collected by Melvin Gilmore from the Arikara tribe at the Fort Berthold Reservation. First offered by Oscar H. Will in 1930. Sturdy plants grow up to 12′ tall, flowers are single to multi-headed. Some single heads grow 12-16″ across. Traditionally grown for its masses of edible seeds. Annual, 70 days.

Squash

Hidatsa Pumpkin Recipe from the Daily Kos

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Assorted seeds from Ukwakhwa’s (Our Foods)whose mission is to help the community learn about traditional Haudenosaunee agricultural.

Three Sisters Soup/Stew

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Three Sisters Stew, Native Foods November, Woodland Indian Educational Programs http://www.woodlandindianedu.com Facebook: https:/ www.facebook.com/WoodlandIndianEDU

This video from Ukwakhwa (Our Foods) gives a recipe and directions on how to make Three Sisters Corn Soup.

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10 Traditional Native American Recipes You're Going to Love During the Holidays (11) Three Sisters Soup, a Native American menu item featured at UND, as presented by the Grand Forks Herald.

According to Twyla Baker-Demaray, a Mandan-Hidatsa woman of the Three Affiliated Tribes at Fort Berthold, “Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara grew many varieties of corn, beans and squash, “and our bodies want this kind of food,” she said. “We respond to it better than to processed food.”

The main ingredients in three sisters soup are corn, squash and beans, Finley said. They grow in her garden as family.

“Corn is the oldest sister, and tall,” she said, and corn acts as a growing pole for the beans. “Squash is the middle sister, and she takes care of the others with her broad leaves that shade out weeds.”

The cooks also talked briefly but respectfully about Buffalo Bird Woman, a Hidatsa who lived from about 1839 to 1932 and did much to preserve the tribe’s centuries-old gardening traditions.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, scholars traveled to Buffalo Bird Woman’s Missouri River village to study her techniques and preserve original seed stock. Through the Internet, Baker-Demaray has acquired seed that traces to those times.

“In our culture, food is central to just about every social gathering,” she said. “It is part of being a good host; you provide food for everyone. Scandinavian culture and other cultures are the same way: food is love.”

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Three Sisters Soup, a Native American recipe from Food.Com

Berries

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Dakota Berry Sauce (Wojapi) from www.FirstNations.org Native American Food Recipe

Bread

Gabubu bread is pan fry bread that uses less oil. It is simple to make and doesn’t take much time. It is a unique way to make bread.

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Gabubu Bread, a traditional bread. Recipe from www.foodxp.com

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A portion of the book selection at the MHA Interpretive Center You’ll see this new cultural center on this Scenic Highway 22 Roadtrip

Native American Foods and Diets, sources and recipes:

Ukwakhwa (Our Foods)

Woodland Indian Educational Programs

Westin A Price Foundation: Guts and Grease: the Diet of Native Americans

Indian County Today: Native Cooking: High Plains Pudding Using Chokecherries

Partnership with Native Americans: Native American Recipes: A Taste of History

Delishably: Traditional Lakota Foods

Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, New Town, ND: Food Sovereignty: Re-connecting Traditional Foods to Our Community

Cultural narratives of the Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara tribes in North Dakota: Culture-MHA

Native American Food/Recipes: Native Recipes

American Indian Health and Diet Project: Recipes to Recover Health

Native America Today: Food and recipe resources

MHA Interpretive Center, New Town, North Dakota

Sources about Native American seeds:

Native Seeds Research: Beans and other Native American Seeds

Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden: Agriculture of the Hidatsa Indians by Gilbert L Wilson

Prairie Road Organic Seed Company, North Dakota, Fullerton, North Dakota (sign up for their Farm Fresh Recipe Book)

Native American Recipe Books:

The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman with Beth Dooley

Native American Cookbook by GW Mullins and CL Hause

Native Harvests: American Wild Foods and Recipes by E Barrie Kavasch

Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions by Fernando and Marlene Divina

Native American Foods and Recipes by Sharon Moore

Along the Pow-Wow Trail: Traditional & Modern Native American Recipes by V.S. Nelson

Native American Recipesby Mary Ruth Hughes (Author), Gina Cruz-Rider (Illustrator)

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The new MHA Nation Interpretive Center near New Town, North Dakota.

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Badlands. Good Times! In Watford City, North Dakota! Over 700 hotel rooms and cuisine from around the world!

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Display your Love of the Beautiful Badlands! Shop at Mykuhls.com

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10 Traditional Native American Recipes You're Going to Love During the Holidays (2024)

FAQs

What are 5 traditional Native American foods? ›

The most important Indigenous American crops have generally included Indian corn (or maize, from the Taíno name for the plant), beans, squash, pumpkins, sunflowers, wild rice, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, peanuts, avocados, papayas, potatoes and chocolate.

What do Native Americans eat for Christmas? ›

20 Traditional Native American Christmas Foods
  • Christmas Flounder. Christmas Flounder is one of the delightful and delicious traditional native American Christmas foods perfect for the holiday season! ...
  • Christmas Lefse. ...
  • Oyster dressing. ...
  • Christmas Goose. ...
  • Okra soup. ...
  • Kolaches. ...
  • Coquito. ...
  • Julekake.

What do indigenous people eat on Thanksgiving? ›

In addition to wild fowl (including wild turkey, though not explicitly on the menu in 1621), venison, and corn, there are references to lobster, fish, clams, oysters, eel, corn, squash, and maple syrup.

What are the three traditional Native American foods? ›

The three sisters (corn, beans, and squash) were the major staples of Native American agriculture, and were always grown together.

What are the two traditional Native American foods? ›

Along with potatoes, many other foods—including corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, peppers, tomatoes, yams, peanuts, wild rice, chocolate, pineapples, avocados, papayas, pecans, strawberries, cranberries, and blueberries, to name a few, are indigenous to the Americas.

What do Indians cook for Christmas? ›

Pork Vindaloo

This traditional Goan pork dish is a staple during Christmas celebrations. Serve with steamed rice to relish its taste. Make Pork Vindaloo with this easy recipe.

Did Native Americans drink milk? ›

No. Native Americans did not use milk. Many people who have Native background will find that they developed lactose intolerance. They lose their ability to digest milk and most milk products.

What did Native American drink? ›

Pre-Columbian Native Americans fermented starchy seeds and roots as well as fruits from both wild and domesticated plants. Among the most common are drinks made from fermented corn, agave, and manioc.

What desserts did Native Americans eat? ›

native American dessert recipes
  • Besan Ki Burfi (Gram Flour Fudge) ...
  • Indigenous Food and Traditional Recipes. ...
  • Cherokee Huckleberry-honey Cake Recipe. ...
  • Delicious New Recipes Every Day | Kraft Heinz. ...
  • Cherokee Cooklore. ...
  • Wojapi - Traditional Native American Berry Dish Recipe. ...
  • Recipe: Nokake (Native American Blue Corn Cakes)

Is cornbread native american? ›

Cornbread is a quick bread made with cornmeal, associated with the cuisine of the Southern United States, with origins in Native American cuisine. It is an example of batter bread. Dumplings and pancakes made with finely ground cornmeal are staple foods of the Hopi people in Arizona.

What meat did Native Americans eat? ›

Depending on where they lived, Natives consumed alligators, bears, beavers, buffalo, caribou, deer, moose, ducks, elk, rabbits, a variety of fish (salmon, smelt, bass, trout, sturgeon, etc.), geese, insects, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, turtles, seals, shellfish and whales, to name a few animals.

What were 3 foods that were eaten during Thanksgiving? ›

So, to the question “What did the Pilgrims eat for Thanksgiving,” the answer is both surprising and expected. Turkey (probably), venison, seafood, and all of the vegetables that they had planted and harvested that year—onions, carrots, beans, spinach, lettuce, and other greens.

What meat did Native Americans eat on Thanksgiving? ›

There is no definitive answer to this question as there are no surviving records or detailed accounts of the first Thanksgiving in 1621. However, it is generally believed that the Wampanoag Indians who attended the feast brought deer meat to share with the Pilgrims.

What tribe ate at the first Thanksgiving? ›

As was the custom in England, the Pilgrims celebrated their harvest with a festival. The 50 remaining colonists and roughly 90 Wampanoag tribesmen attended the "First Thanksgiving."

What are first foods Native Americans? ›

For the Coast Salish people of Western Washington, Oregon and British Columbia alone, there are more than 300 types of First Foods, from well-known staples like Chinook salmon, wapiti (elk) and camas root, to lesser known species including goose-neck barnacles and eulachon (candlefish, a type of smelt).

What are Native Americans food culture? ›

Most tribes were hunter-gatherers, foraging for wild vegetation and hunting and fishing for meat. They ate foods such as berries, edible roots, seeds and nuts, deer, bison, salmon, and birds. They were nomadic, moving from season to season and following game.

What are some Native American foods eaten in the US today include __________? ›

It is important to note that many of the foods eaten today were first used in Native American cuisines. These foods include potatoes, beans, corn, peanuts, pumpkins, tomatoes, squash, peppers, melons, and sunflower seeds. The second contribution involves the structure of the United States' government.

What meats did Native Americans eat? ›

Depending on where they lived, Natives consumed alligators, bears, beavers, buffalo, caribou, deer, moose, ducks, elk, rabbits, a variety of fish (salmon, smelt, bass, trout, sturgeon, etc.), geese, insects, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, turtles, seals, shellfish and whales, to name a few animals.

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