Native Americans are experts at maximizing the environment around them. This includes providing for food. Each tribe maximizes the food that is naturally available around them. Native Americans embrace the environment versus destroying or taxing it. If you were a Native American and lived in California you would have a substantially different diet then a Native American in New York State.
The maximization and the sustainability of the environment will always be a major concern to Native Americans. Native Americans realize if there is no respect for nature there will be no food in the future.
The types of Indian food available would depend on the location of the tribe. In all cases hunting, fishing or growing their food Native Americans maximize every part of the animal or plant. In this way environmentalism is actually built into the Native American culture and diet. Maximizing every part of an animal or plant includes using bones for fertilizer and needles, using furs for clothing and in all cases using every part possible for nutritional value.
Location is the key. For example a tribe in Oregon or Washington would hunt deer and Bear as well as gather wild berries. In the Northwest fish would also be a major staple. Salmon is an important part of the Indian diet. Salmon can be eaten fresh, dried and smoked for the winter.
In a majority of cases Native Americans maximize agriculture by growing a variety of Vegetable and root based foods. Whatever could grow easily and produce a good yield would be grown. Perhaps one of the best groups of Indian food is called the three sisters. The three sisters consisted of corn, squash and beans. These three Indian foods were favorite crops of the Iroquois Indians based in New York.
American Indian food has spread into cultures around the world. Many old-time recipes have been adapted from Indian food and continue to be favorites today. Next time you have venison stew think about it.
Joseph Paige © 2006