top of page

Foods of the Indigenous Peoples

This is a pretty big topic, but I'll try to manage it in a reasonable manner. It's also press fodder due to the recent visit by the Pope to Canada and the Catholic Churches attempt to make amends for the residential school genocides.

Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First peoples, First nations, Aboriginal peoples, Native peoples, Indigenous natives, or Autochthonous peoples (these terms are often capitalized when referring to specific indigenous peoples as ethnic groups, nations, and the members of these groups, are culturally distinct ethnic groups whose members are directly descended from the earliest known inhabitants of a particular geographic region and, to some extent, maintain the language and culture of those original peoples. The term Indigenous was first, in its modern context, used by Europeans, who used it to differentiate the Indigenous peoples of the Americas from the European settlers of the Americas and from the Africans who were brought to the Americas as enslaved people. The term may have first been used in this context by Sir Thomas Browne in 1646, who stated "and although in many parts thereof there be at present swarms of Negroes serving under the Spaniard, yet were they all transported from Africa, since the discovery of Columbus; and are not indigenous or proper natives of America.

Let's look at a few of the geographical areas, and see how agriculture, customs and trade influence the foods of specific peoples.

In Canada multiple restaurants owned by First Nations restaurateurs offer menus based on traditional ingredients such as beans, corn, and squash. According to restaurateur Shawn Adler, one of the challenges is public awareness. "People understand what Thai food is, what Italian food is, what Chinese food is, what Ethiopian food is," he said. "But people don’t really understand what indigenous cuisine is.

An interesting read can be found below;

Download PDF • 3.04MB


Food, is an essential aspect of many family traditions in Caribbean culture. At holidays and special events, it is very common for people to spend many days preparing food.

Caribbean food includes all the favorite seafood, chicken, and steak, prepared with the spices and colorful ingredients of the Islands.

The Arawak, Carib, and Taino “Indians” were the first dwellers in the Caribbean Islands. Their daily diet consists of vegetables and fruits such as papaya, yams, guavas, and cassava. The Taino began the process of preparing meat and fish in large clay pots. The Carib Indians introduced spices and lemon juice to their meat and fish recipes. In general, the favorite Caribbean dish is seasoned jerk chicken. This spicy cuisine is unique.

International cuisines that influenced Caribbean cuisine:

But the Caribbean cuisine consists of culinary influences from Africa, France, Spain, India, Dutch, America, Britain, and Asia.

For example: The Chinese launched rice and mustard; and the early Portuguese sailors are responsible for adding the famous codfish. Spain brought in fruit trees like orange, ginger, plantains, figs, date palms, sugar cane, grapes, tamarinds and coconuts; and The Americas introduced beans, corn, squash, potatoes, tomatoes, and chilli pepper.

You can see that chicken, goat, and curry are favorite foods throughout the English influenced areas of the Caribbean while the French cuisine is prevalent in the French-influenced areas of the Caribbean. Also, People living in the Spanish influenced regions of the Caribbean eat a lot of spicy and flavored foods.

Unique seafood cuisine. Shark, fish, lobster, and conch are familiar favorite dishes in different regions.

Rice is a staple food throughout the Caribbean; and each island has a particular rice dish. On some islands, rice is seasoned or served with coconut. Yellow and brown rice is served as a side on many Caribbean dishes.

In addition to rice, beans are a favorite food throughout the Caribbean. In Cuba, beans appear in many dishes. Beans are cooked and served in a variety of ways depending on the country.

Food served in the Caribbean islands has been influenced by the cultures of the world; but each island adds its unique flavor and culinary techniques. Caribbean culinary is most famous because of its many influences from much staple foods of the world.

Indigenous cuisine of the Americas

Native peoples retain a varied culture of traditional foods, along with the addition of some post-contact foods that have become customary and even iconic of present-day Indigenous American social gatherings (for example, frybread). Foods like cornbread, turkey, cranberry, blueberry, hominy and mush have been adopted into the cuisine of the broader United States population from Native American cultures.

In other cases, documents from the early periods of Indigenous American contact with European, African, and Asian peoples have allowed the recovery and revitalization of Indigenous food practices that had formerly passed out of popularity.

The most important Indigenous American crops have generally included corn, beans, squash, pumpkins, sunflowers, wild rice, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, peanuts, avocados, papayas, potatoes and cacao.

Indigenous cuisine of the Americas uses of domesticated and wild native ingredients. As the Americas cover a large range of biomes, and there are more than 574 currently federally recognized Native American tribes in the US alone, Indigenous cuisine can vary significantly by region and culture. For example, North American Native cuisine differs from Southwestern and Mexican cuisine in its simplicity and directness of flavor.

Long before the Europeans came to South America, Indigenous populations figured out how to cultivate an incredible array of plants. They developed elaborate irrigation systems and terraced the steep Andean mountain slopes to make them more suitable for growing food. They grew corn, lima beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, chili peppers, avocados, peanuts, and chocolate. They also raised llamas and guinea pigs. Each region developed its own traditional dishes.

When the Europeans arrived, they incorporated some of these Indigenous peoples' dishes into their own cuisine. They took the new foods back to Europe, and they brought European livestock and foods to South America, such as pigs, chickens, citrus trees, wheat, almonds, cows, and goats.

The Europeans learned to make their favorite Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese dishes using local ingredients. Many traditional Indigenous cooking methods were adapted and modified, and the newly available foods from Europe were mixed in. Asian and African immigrants brought their culinary traditions as well. All of this blended to make this the diverse and exciting cuisine that exists today.

We have recently passed by International Indigenous History month. As most of us are beginning to realize, the history is a little off...let's celebrate a new beginning with joy, laughter and forgiveness. We can't change the past, nor predict the future, all we have is today! Happy hump day folks! Cheers!

7 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All




bottom of page