The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian on The Mall in Washington, D.C. brings the best of Native cuisine and culture to the seventh annual Living Earth Festival Friday, July 15, through Sunday, July 17. This year’s festival focuses on indigenous agriculture and foods and includes a screening of two Seasoned with Spirit episodes, cooking demos, music and dance, and artists presentations.
Music, Dance and Film
Enjoy traditional songs and powwow-style dances by Tinkus Llajtaymanta, Tradiciones Bolivanas and Grupo Etina daily at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the Potomac Atrium. During “Music and Dance Along the Inka Road,” the groups perform dances of Bolivia and the Andes accompanied by traditional instruments. In the museum’s Rasmuson Theater, two episodes of the Emmy-winning PBS series Seasoned with Spirit, “Return of the Buffalo—Lakota” and “Cuisine of the Desert Southwest—Tohono O’odham,” showcases Saturday afternoon.
On Friday at 2 p.m., the festival features, “Chefs’ Conversation: Celebrating Healthy Native Foods,” in the Rasmuson Theater with Chefs Loretta Barrett Oden (Citizen Band Potawatomi), Velvet Button (Tohono O’odham), Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz (Xicana/Tiwa) and Terri Ami (Hopi/Navajo), followed by a wine tasting with the Cedar Band of Paiutes in the Mitsitam Coffee Bar.
Watch daily food demos by mother–daughter team Ramona and Velvet Button, featuring heirloom foods grown on Ramona Farms, located on the Gila River Indian Reservation in Sacaton, Ariz. Chefs will incorporate this year’s featured food, potatoes, in their dishes. Recipes will be available to visitors.
Bead workers, basket makers, weavers, and potters demonstrate their art in the Potomac Atrium daily. Featured are weaver Porfirio Gutierrez (Oaxacan) using all-natural plants and insect dyes; Artist Elizabeth James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag) creating naturally dyed milkweed textiles and wampum jewelry from the quahog shell; Jesus Garcia, a cultural interpreter at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, demonstrating the weaving of horsehair and agave rope; and Joey Lopez (Tohono O’odham) weaving baskets from unique materials. Shelden Nuñez-Velarde (Jicarilla Apache) makes micaceous clay pottery, and Wilma and Dena Skenandore (Potawatomi/Oneida) demonstrate the healing qualities of their essential oils, creams and salves.
For more about the festival, visit AmericanIndian.si.edu. Follow the museum on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and use the hashtag #LivingEarth.