Indian Frybread

We went to Tamkaliks—the powwow in Wallowa—last night, and of course had to have a piece of frybread. As I watched one woman stretching dough and plopping it into two grease-filled cast iron pots, another woman turn it in the oil, and two men—father and son, it looked like—serve up  the platters of Indian tacos and plain frybread that we dowsed with sugar and honey, I thought about Indian treaties and commodity foods. I know, I’ve been reading too much Josephy and am steeped in the stories of broken treaties, wars, removal, extermination, assimilation—but also the stories of Indian resilience and the miracle of new world tribal survival. And fry bread has its place in all that. 
My friend, the writer Luis Urrea, has a wonderful piece in Hummingbird’s Daughter—that he can recite from memory in four minutes—called “God in a taco.” Maybe it was an “Indian taco.” And that fictional account of wars and spiritual quests in
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Class discussion: Charlemagne Napoleon, protein and white bread

I’m stretching my Josephy Library legs, offering a class—“Introduction to Indian Studies and the Nez Perce Story”—at the new Josephy Center. It’s based on Alvin materials—chapters from books, speeches, and journal articles he wrote over 50 years—and has become a lively weekly conversation for the dozen of us who gather in the Library on Wednesday mornings. Our text this week was the first chapter of 500 Nations, and the discussion revolved around similarities and differences of the North American tribes, and, inevitably, the rise and fall of cultures.  Culture led to economy, and economy led to—diet.
Barrie Qualle grew up in Saskatchewan ranching country, with Cree, Assiniboine, and Gros Ventre Indians all around, and remembered how tall and stout they were. “Six two and six four not unusual,” he said. Barrie thought that their diet must have been heavy in protein and that they lived in a place and at a
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