I’m so excited to share that I was finally able to talk to one of my heroes and sources of inspiration after years of email correspondence! For both Linda and me, herbal remedies and wild foods have been an integral part of repairing broken relationships with plants and people, especially the violent extraction and suppression of Indigenous knowledge. Linda talks about what it was and is like for Indigenous peoples to access the wild foods they need, and how we can move toward more ethical and sustainable foraging.
She encourages us to leave that which is threatened or overharvested for the Indigenous people that need those foods. She also suggests finding more sustainable alternatives to threatened herbs, or growing them ourselves. There are so many herbs out there that often get overlooked for the popular and trendy herbs, like white sage, that have their own special qualities. You may find a deeper connection with an herb you’ve been overlooking, or find a missed connection by cultivating and preparing your own remedies.
Linda also stresses the need to bear not only the people but the plants themselves in mind when foraging:
“It’s up to you to develop a relationship with every plant you harvest and learn their preferences."
As foragers, it’s important for us to pay attention to the plants that are threatened or overharvested and leave them behind. But, it’s equally important that we know how to harvest plants sustainably. Should we pull them up from the root? Should we only take a few leaves? How can we leave the greatest positive impact when we take from the Earth?
Linda also talks about her work in creating food kits for elders and aiding to reclaim stolen land.
“The only justice for land stolen is land back.”
You can learn more about her land recovery work and how you can get involved at www.MakoceIkikcupi.com.
Lastly, we couldn’t end the podcast without talking about Dandelions, a beautiful and nutritious plant that is actually native to North America! See Linda’s recipe below for a tangy, spicy, and sweet sauce recipe. She is also an amazing resource for home fermentation! If you want to watch our discussion on fermentation, join our Patreon for bonus content. In this discussion, Linda shares her basic personal brine recipe and how to create a daily personal fermentation ritual to make wild food preservation a part of your life and your kitchen.
Try Linda’s Spicy Dandelion Greens Sauce recipe:
Mix the rest of the ingredients in a separate bowl. Pour this sauce over the blanched greens and mix well to cover.
Linda Black Elk is an ethnobotanist and food sovereignty activist specializing in teaching about culturally important plants and their uses as food and medicine. She is eternally grateful for the intergenerational knowledge of elders and other knowledge holders, who have shared their understandings of the world with her, and she has dedicated her life to giving back to these peoples and their communities. Linda works to build ways of thinking that will promote and protect food sovereignty, traditional plant knowledge, and environmental quality as an extension of her work as a gardener, forager, fisher, hunter, and gatherer. Linda and her family have also been spearheading a grassroots effort to provide organic, traditional, shelf-stable food and traditional Indigenous medicines to elders and others in need. Thus far, they have fed and healed thousands of people. She has written numerous articles, book chapters, and papers, and is the author of “Watoto Unyutapi”, a field guide to edible wild plants of the Dakota people. Linda proudly serves as the Food Sovereignty Coordinator at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota, where she passes ethnobotanical and food systems knowledge on to her amazing students. She also sits on the board of Makoce Ikikcupi, a Reparative Justice project on Dakota lands in Minnesota. When she isn’t teaching, Linda spends her time foraging, hiking, hunting, and fishing on the prairies and waters of the northern Great Plains with her husband and three sons, who are all members of the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires of the Lakota.
You can learn more about Linda’s work and check out some of the resources she mentioned in the podcast at:
American Indian College Fund
Makoce Ikikcupi (Land Recovery): A project of reparative justice
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