By Linda Murray Berzok
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Extra info for American Indian food (Food in American History Series)
Did it really happen, and what is meant by “ﬁrst”? Harvest festivals offering gratitude to the spirits for bountiful harvest had been celebrated for thousands of years in almost every Native American tribe. As for the English, settlers in Jamestown, Virginia, had celebrated many days of thanksgiving before the settlement in New England. The Puritans themselves had long observed religious days of thanksgiving throughout the year without any speciﬁc day on an annual basis. In Plymouth, 19 AMERICAN INDIAN FOOD the ﬁrst harvest took place in 1621.
Coffee. Coffee was introduced by the Spanish into the Southwest and became a favorite trading post item. It replaced traditional Indian herbal teas and atole, a hot drink made from maize. Alcohol. Certainly the most destructive European introduction to Native Americans was distilled alcohol. Although Indians traditionally fermented substances such as saguaro cactus fruit, the resulting wine contained only about 2 percent alcohol and was drunk on ritual occasions. In a very short time high-proof liquor, bestowed as gifts or as payment to Indians for land and slaves, wreaked havoc among the native cultures.
The variety grown there produced fruit into February. The peach was so successful in the Southeast that later naturalists believed it was native to the area. The Iroquois cultivated large apple orchards. Native Americans were not universally enthusiastic about the new crops. It was not just that these foods were unfamiliar; it was also that they expressed nothing of Indian culture and identity. A member of the Tohono O’odham nation, remarked, “All the year round we were watching where the wild things grew so we could pick them.