Culture & Cuisine

Explore a range of experiences in the indigenous arts, from food and plant preparation and use to beadwork, drummaking, flutemaking and more.

Registration for 2020 Workshops will open February 1st, 2020.
= Native American Arts

Native American Cuisine: Native Ingredients, Native Cooking

Freddie Bitsoie
June 22-23

Join Chef Freddie Bitsoie from the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC to learn to prepare dishes using Native ingredients such as Navajo corn, acorn mill, cactus, seaweed and more. As you learn new recipes, you will see how you can incorporate ancient techniques in food preparation, and you will also explore the uses and adaptations of ingredients from across the Americas through time. You will gain new skills as you create modern dishes using pre-Iberian and contemporary techniques, and will learn about the cultural and historical context of the ingredients and foods you will prepare. Come eager and hungry for two days filled with hands-on cooking lessons and food tastings. This class is designed for all those who love great food!

Skill level:
All levels. Experienced cooks will learn new techniques.
Tuition: $300
Lab fee: $75, includes all ingredients, recipe booklet, and use of cooking tools and equipment. Native American producers and cooperatives will supply many of the ingredients; you may be asked to purchase and bring additional materials.
Click here for Materials List
Enrollment limited to 10 students

Freddie Bitsoie (Diné), executive chef, Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), Mitsitam Café in Washington, DC. He also owns FJBits Concepts, which specializes in Native American foodways. He travels widely, presenting for organizations including Kraft Foods, College of Holy Cross, Yale University, and Heard Museum. Freddie hosts the public TV show Rezervations Not Required, and has appeared in and contributes to many publications. He won the Native Chef Competition at the NMAI. Freddie studied cultural anthropology and art history at Arizona State University before attending culinary school.

Creation of Northwest Coast Hand Drums

Mike Dangeli
June 24-28

Drums in Sm’algyax language, the language spoken by the Nisga’a, Tsimshian and Gitxsan, are Nooł and mother is Noo, because the first drum a human hears is a mother’s heartbeat. No wonder the drum is an important being in Northwest Coast ceremony, performance and art.

Learn drum construction using elk skin and sinew on a wood drum frame, as well as basic Northern West Coast First Nations design and painting techniques to embellish the drums created. Mike has made several thousand drums in his career, so you will see many techniques demonstrated in the creation of traditional northern hand drums. Returning students may choose to focus on paddlemaking, learning to carve, sand, paint and oil a 3’ to 6’ paddle using yellow cedar.

Skill Level: All levels
Tuition: $755
Lab Fee: $110, includes drum kit with elk skin, sinew, wood drum frame, paints, miscellaneous supplies, and use of tools and equipment in class. $85 if choosing to make a paddle. You may be asked to purchase and bring additional materials.
Enrollment limited to 10 students

Mike Dangeli (Nisga’a, Tlingit, Tsetsaut, Tsimshian) grew up in his people’s traditional territory in Southeast Alaska and Northern British Columbia. Mike is a renowned artist and carver. His work is collected and exhibited throughout North America and Europe. He is a singer, songwriter, and dancer. Mike and wife Mique’l lead the Git Hayetsk Dancers, an internationally renowned First Nations dance group based in Vancouver. He has carved more than 100 of the masks performed by their group.

California Native Plants: Gathering, Processing, Feasting

Craig Torres, Barbara Drake, Daniel McCarthy, Abe Sanchez
June 29 – 30

Learn to preserve and use native plants from seasoned experts. Stroll through the campus meadow, next to ancient Cahuilla bedrock mortars, and learn about the plants surrounding you in an ethnobotany talk. Explore several plants in-depth, including mesquite beans, prickly pear cactus, yucca, elderberry, stinging nettel, chia, acorn and more.  Discover ways to save and utilize these plants from helping the environment to cultural medicine, and learn both traditional and modern sustainable gathering practices, as well as how to prepare and cook these culturally valuable plants.  Learn how to make an elderberry storage tube that can be used to store teas, medicine or offerings. On an evening field trip, visit Cahuilla rock art sites in Idyllwild to learn their meaning and the importance of their preservation. This workshop is dedicated to the instructors’ teacher, Katherine Siva Saubel, with deep gratitude.

Skill Level: All levels, teens may attend with a parent.
Tuition: $285
Lab fee: $35, includes materials, food, field trip; you may be asked to purchase and bring additional materials.
Click here for Materials List
Enrollment limited to 20 students

Craig Torres (Tongva) is a member of the Traditional Council of Pimuu and involved with the Ti’aat Society, an organization focused on the revival of the traditional maritime culture of the Southern California coastal region and Southern Channel Islands. He is an artist, as well as cultural educator, presenter and consultant to schools, culture and nature centers, museums, and city, state and government agencies acting as a consultant on the Tongva. He has also been involved with the organization Preserving Our Heritage and Chia Café, which provide cooking demos and classes with California native plants. These activities also provide education on the importance of preserving native plants, habitats and landscapes for future generations.

Barbara Drake (Tongva) is a tribal elder and culture keeper. Her program, Preserving Our Heritage, is a bank of native foods collected, preserved and processed for tribal elders. She is a member of the Mother Earth Clan, a group of Southern California Native American women educators who have taught extensively in museums, schools and tribal institutions. She is also a founding member of the Chia Café Collective.

Daniel McCarthy earned his BS and MS in anthropology from UC Riverside. For the past 40 years, he has worked at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Joshua Tree National Park and throughout Southern California compiling photographic inventories of rock art sites. He has worked with elders and traditional practitioners for more than 35 years and served as the Tribal Relations Program manager for the San Bernardino National Forest for 17 years, and most recently served as director, CRM Department, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians.

Abe Sanchez is active in the revival and preservation of indigenous arts and foods, with specialties in Southern California Native American basketry and California and Southwest native foods. He has worked with traditional Native American gatherers to learn methods and practices. Abe believes that by teaching people about ancient natural foods and preparations, he can help them make a difference in their health and the environment.