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First-of-its-kind food festival showcasing Indigenous cuisine

Taste of Decolonization is a first-of-its-kind food festival geared at showcasing Indigenous food and poetry. KUNM sat down with Andi Murphy to learn more about the food festival and what her reasons were for creating this new event.

MURPHY: I'm a foodie, I love to try new foods, I love to try the foods that I report on from the people I've talked to in Native America who are doing the food sovereignty work. I love to also support Native food business and there hasn't been an event like this in Albuquerque I think ever. So I thought I should just, I should just do it, let's just do it and brought in Liz Gaylor from Tiny Grocer ABQ and she's actually a member of the Cherokee Nation so I thought this was a good combination because there had to be Native people at the foundation of an event like this.

KUNM: I just want to say you have a really great title for this food festival Taste of Decolonization. And I was curious, is this food festival advocating for healthier alternatives?

MURPHY: I don't know if it's advocating for healthy alternatives. It is really just a advocating for creativity. I think the main thing about this food festival is there's no frybread. And, you know, frybread has been this poster child for obesity and diabetes in Native America. But health is not the reason why I wanted to exclude it from this festival. I just wanted to put other food to the forefront because frybread has had its time, frybread has really just been greedy and taking over the whole narrative of Indigenous foods. So I want to move that aside, it's had its time. And I want to bring in all of the creative flavors and ingredients that are really in the background, that really should have the foreground of this definition of Indigenous food.

KUNM: Can you tell me a little bit more about changing the narrative when it comes to Indigenous foods?

MURPHY: So Native food has had its definition written for it, through colonization, and violence and lack of accessibility and even health disparities. And there's a lot of work being done across Native America to push that aside. There's already been decades of work to revitalize traditional food ways to strengthen culinary knowledge and strengthen culinary tradition. And it is time to really push those narratives aside, that have been written for us and to create our own.

KUNM: So what will the food festival offer to those who attend?

MURPHY: For folks who come to the food festival on Friday and Saturday, you're welcome to try as much food as you as you want, as your stomach can handle and as your wallet can handle, because you're going to be coming in and paying for a ticket, and that ticket will get you a small plate. And you can go from there and have your fill and really try all the different chef vendors who are going to be there offering their signature dish for everybody. And that's the goal here.

KUNM: And before the food festival you're actually going to have a multicourse Indigenous dinner on Thursday, correct?

MURPHY: Yeah, this is the fancy one. This is the one where we're bringing in chef Justin Pioche from upper Fruitland near Farmington, New Mexico. He's a Navajo chef who has been really doing a bunch of brilliant things in Native America. He's one of the chefs out there who has the media spotlight who is really doing some awesome things. And last year, he was a finalist for a James Beard Award for best chef in the southwest. And I've had the privilege of attending one of his special dinners, and was just really impressed with how he used flavors and ingredients from this land from New Mexico. And that is also what decolonizing Indigenous food is. It's really changing the narrative and really looking into this land and really tasting this land. It's also about our experiences as Native people. So we insert some of that into our own food and our experiences and it becomes our new narrative of Native food. We don't want people to just think of Native people and food in this ancient history textbook sort of way. We want people to think of Native people today.

Support for this coverage comes from the Thornburg Foundation.

Jeanette DeDios is from the Jicarilla Apache and Diné Nations and grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2022 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism, English and Film. She’s a former Local News Fund Fellow. Jeanette can be contacted at jeanettededios@kunm.org or via Twitter @JeanetteDeDios.
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