From Sept. 12-14, at the second annual FUZE.SW Festival, award-winning chefs and food journalists from across the United States, as well as leading historians, archaeologists, farmers, artists and folklorists, gathered to discuss and demonstrate Native American culinary traditions and techniques. Two hundred people attended the event at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture (MIAC) and the Museum of International Folk Art (MOIFA) in Santa Fe.
MIAC Director Della Warrior, the museum’s curators and Carnell Chosa from the Santa Fe Indian School facilitated the focus on Native foodways. Also providing guidance and insight were chefs/presenters Nephi Craig (White Mountain Apache), Lois Ellen Frank (Kiowa), Walter Whitewater (Diné) and culinary authors Deborah Madison and Cheryl Alters Jamison. MOIFA Director Marsha Bol, Marketing Director Shelly Thompson and Steve Cantrell from the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs were key to the event’s creation.
Presentations started with a focus on traditional Native American farming practices such as non-irrigated (dryland) farming. There were discussions about how Native Americans influenced New Mexico with their food before the Spanish arrived and the fusion between Native American and Mexican/Spanish foods.
A keynote speech opened each day. The first was “Native American Food Traditions and Identity,” given by Lois Ellen Frank. Author Betty Fussell presented “Our Appetite for Change—and Its Consequences.” Nephi Craig discussed the concepts of “Food as Empowerment and Conduit for the Messages Embodied in Plants, Land, Animals and Water.” The keynotes were followed by three or four 15-minute “fastalks,” including “The New Pueblo Diet” by Roxanne Swentzell; “Indigenous Biotechnology” by Tomás Antonio, Ph.D.; and “It’s Not All Rats on a Stick,” by MIAC researcher/curator Dody Fugate, who reviewed colonial stereotypes about Native foods from an archaeological perspective.
In the morning and afternoon, attendees could choose to attend one of several concurrent panels with experts who discussed topics such as “Farming Smart in the High Desert”; “Corn: The Grain That Sustains Body and Soul”; “The Bean’s Rise from Humble Legume to Southwest Culinary Classic”; “Indigenous Cooking Utensils”; “Micaceous Pottery: How to Cook with and Care for It”; “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Fried Dough,” and “Contemporary Native American Food.”
There were cooking demos and tastings with local chefs. The attendees broke bread—buwa yaweh, a delicate, paper-thin, rolled, flat blue-corn bread—with Wenona Nutima of Tesuque Pueblo, ate prickly pear cactus fruit and tasted other Native delicacies. Meals ranged from a traditional “grandmother’s lunch,” prepared by pueblo mothers and grandmothers, to a vegan, hominy corn harvest stew to modern Southwest cuisine—a buffalo dinner with produce from the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. All of the foods served were sourced locally.
FUZE.SW’s third day was free to the public. It featured New Mexico-grown and prepared foods to taste and buy, cooking demos, cookbook signings, horno bread baking and pueblo dancers.
For information about next year’s FUZE.SW, which will take a different look at the deep and rich influences that make up New Mexican cuisine, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit fuze.swmuseumofnewmexico.org