Nanda-gikendan, seek to know it, seek to learn it

Food line at the eventOn Sept. 19, Millie Baird, acting Forest tribal relations liaison, and her family attended the second annual Nanda-gikendan, seek to know it, seek to learn it, event at the Cass Lake Aabinoojii Oshkii Bimadiziiwin (AOB) early childhood center. Nanda-gikenda was a family event to literally get a “taste” of Leech Lake Early Childhood’s new healthy foods initiatives! Culinary art experiences included sampling hominy, tea, and pan bread, wild rice demonstrations, tours of the garden, greenhouse, exploring their Megwayaak trail and outdoor learning space at the center.

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe community members provided the hands-on demonstrations to the youngest of the Leech Lake area; the early childhood students and their families. Attendees were treated to delicious, healthy teas made from natural plants that are found on the reservation and Chippewa National Forest: mullein, cranberry, sweet grass and sumac. Geenhouse and garden tours showed where the fresh fruits and vegetables are grown to provide healthy lunch and snack options for the young students. Different natural food demonstration stations were available along the outdoor trail including:  hand winnowing of wild rice in birch bark pans, fresh walleye chunks, pumpkin soup and pan bread prepared on an open campfire. The trails offer an opportunity to get the children outside to explore their backyards and to see and identify berries and other edible natural foods.

Adult showing a youth plant identification.During the event, Millie’s 4-year old granddaughter accidently tripped and lightly scraped her knee. She was then shown how to use a plantain leaf to soothe the scrape and aid in healing. Millie got to make her first birch bark basket, a vital tool in the Ojibway culture.

“I especially enjoyed the smell of boiling hominy, along with the taste of prepared Chicken-of-the-woods mushrooms,” said Millie.

A light meal of wild rice soup, fresh fruits and a crisp salad was also provided for everyone who attended the event. The event helped to reconnect and revitalize the connection to food, culture and language by engaging the children with traditional teachings. It also emphasized the significance of being able to gather and harvest healthy, natural foods found on the Chippewa National Forest.



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