Wisdom of Elders: Traditional Food Ways of Five Tribes in Western Washington. Recipes collected and cookbook edited by Melissa E. Christy. (Phoenix, AZ : National Society for American Indian Elderly (NSAIE) ; Shelton, WA : South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency (SPIPA), 2008. 64 p.
Rand Simmons, Acting Washington State Librarian, Tumwater, WA.
The delight of this small book is that it provides glimpses into the history, culture, and daily living of the people of five Western Washington tribes. Reflecting the wisdom of elders from the Skokomish Tribal Nation, Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe, Squaxin Island Tribe, Confederate Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation and Nisqually Indian Tribe, this small book is chocked full of recipes, ancient and modern, photographs, and remembrances provided by tribal elders.
Readers can learn how people preserved and cooked food when there were no refrigerators, freezers, microwaves or electricity. Basic information on Lushootseed, the Puget Sound Salish language, at the back of the book includes examples of pronunciation and phrases. Sound advice can be gleaned: “Cook while you are in a good mood and love who you cook for” – Tschudub Indian Shaker Church belief. Many of the recipes can made using common pantry items: flour, sugar, baking powder eggs and oil. For other recipes, you may need assistance gathering kinnikinnick berries and salmon eggs or making tuddee from fern roots. But if you have a penchant for geoduck patties, this book will provide you with the recipe.
Colorful photographs help identify what ingredients and finish foods look like. Yes, this is a cookbook but it is so much more. This book is ideal for the cook who is collecting Pacific Northwest cookbooks, for librarians who are selecting materials on the Pacific Northwest, for school librarians who need basic information on Indians of the Pacific Northwest for their students’ curricular needs and for the generally curious reader. A joint project of the National Society for American Indian Elderly (NSAIE) and the South Puget Intertribal Planning Agency (SPIPA) Wisdom of the Elders was produced with funds granted by the Administration for Native Americans as part of its Knowledge Preservation Project. Melissa E. Christy collected the recipes, edited the cookbook, and contributed photographs.
For more information on this project and the NSAIE , visit http://nsaie.org/projects/the-wisdom-of-elders-cookbook/