This week, Choctaw Nation hosted its first Indigenous Immersion camp for a small group of Tribal youth who have been identified by their communities as future leaders. It was a powerful week, combining time in the classroom, camping out at the Nan Awaya Heritage Farmstead, and visiting parts of the Choctaw homeland to learn about the Choctaw relationship with the land. These amazing kids are what made the week special.
The first evening, we brought the Durant Choctaw traditional pottery class together with the camp, for an applied class on cooking with clay and for a fun dinner afterwards. Vangie did a class on making Bvnaha, a staple Choctaw dish that resembles unfilled tamales. Ian cooked them in a traditional a clay pot on the fire. Amy did a class on baking fish using some crappie that had been generously provided by our friend Al. First, she had the kids wrap and tie the fish in softened corn husks. Then, they coated these packages in thin layers of clay. These are photographed above baking on the fire. When the clay cracks, the fish are done. The packets are removed from the fire and broken open. This is a really cool and very traditional cooking technique. The fish is perfectly steamed, without even a hint of smoke.
Other foods were provided by a generous potluck. It was a fun and tasty evening, hopefully one that will be remembered in a good way for years to come.