Indigenous Women: Nations, Cultures, Voices

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Festival and Food at the American Indian Museum

b2ap3_thumbnail_sb_sys_medias_media_key_830.jpgThis weekend at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. is the seventh annual Festival in celebration of the Living Earth and the vitality of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas! The events are open to the public. Check out their website at

This year the focus is on traditional agricultural practices, which are referred to today by modern people as "sustainability." Indigenous peoples used sustainable agricultural practices for centuries. Another focus of this year's Festival is Indigenous food, including Native Chefs' culinary demonstrations and Indigenous wine tastings. If you have been to the Museum before, or if you live in D.C., you already know that one of the best places to eat in our capitol is at the Mitsitam Cafe in the Indian Museum!b2ap3_thumbnail_sb_sys_medias_media_key_619_20160715-132805_1.jpg

Mitsitam means "Let's Eat!" in the language of the Piscataway and Lenape peoples. These nations are east of the Mississippi River and their traditional lands are in what is now called Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Of course, Piscataway and Lenape peoples today live all over the country, not just where their ancestors lived. The Cafe features salmon roasted on cedar planks over an open fire, buffalo burgers, and traditional breads. The Cafe is open from 11 am--5:00 pm daily.

The Cafe now boasts an Espresso Coffee Bar that features organic, fair-trade coffee grown and harvested by Indigenous peoples, which is provided to the museum by the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. The Coffee Bar is open daily from 10 am--5:30 pm.

b2ap3_thumbnail_sb_sys_medias_media_key_872_20160715-132844_1.jpgThe Museum published a cookbook featuring specialties from their cafe called The Mitsitam Cafe Cookbook. On the cover you will see Fiddlehead ferns used in a scrumptious-looking salad!

b2ap3_thumbnail_sb_sys_medias_media_key_633.jpgOn July 15, this afternoon, Indigenous chefs from across the country will be offering cooking demonstrations using traditional techniques. You can watch the Live Webcast by going to the Museum's webpage and clicking on Explore and then Live Webcasts.

Every day during this year's Festival, Native artists, dancers, and singers will be performing for the public. Today's feature is "Dance Along the Inka Road" with South American Indios performers. You can watch them virtually.

Whether you visit the Museum in person or virtually, learning about Native American histories and cultures is part of being a knowledgeable American. The First Americans have a lot to teach us about living well on the earth and with each other! b2ap3_thumbnail_sb_sys_medias_media_key_847.jpg

Membership in the Museum costs $25.00. For that, you get an annual subscription to their gorgeous magazine that has articles in it you can trust are about authentic Indigenous culture. Plus it is chock full of information about Native American jewelry, educational and social justice programs, moccasins, art galleries, and festivals year-round. Visit the Museum at

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Dr. Mays is a professional writer with a doctoral degree in Native American Studies who has taught at the college level for nearly two decades. She is committed to educating about Indigenous cultures, especially about practices that specifically relate to women, in order to raise awareness about current issues in Indian Country, dissolve stereotypes, and create healing among all communities.


  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham Friday, 15 July 2016

    So love this Museum - and truly the best "food court" I've ever seen!!!

  • Dr. Mays
    Dr. Mays Friday, 15 July 2016

    Thanks for writing, Lizann! Washingtonians line up daily for the fabulous food at the Museum. Glad you visited.

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