AARP Kansas partnered with the Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP) to bring together members of the four Kansas indigenous tribes (Iowa, Kickapoo, Sac and Fox, and Prairie Band Potawatomi) to help celebrate Native American Month and Diabetes Prevention Month last November by learning how to prepare meals that help prevent and manage diabetes.
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AARP contracted with Richard Hetzler, renowned author and head chef of the Smithsonian’s American Indian Museum’s Mitsitam Café in Washington D.C., to travel to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Casino and Resort to provide instruction to Native American chefs on how to prepare Native American ancestral dishes using nutritious ingredients. The food prepared by the 20 workshop chefs was then served to more than 100 friends and family members at 2 sessions – one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The menu for each of the sessions included oven roasted beets, baby spinach, goat cheese, green chili vinaigrette, grilled buffalo rib eye, wilted greens, mashed Yukon Gold potato cake, pine nut buffalo sauce, warm Mesquite Flour cake, Agave Nectar vanilla bean sauce, and citrus salad.
The workshop chefs were selected based on the number of people on their reservation for whom they cook, with a particular focus on those who are at risk for diabetes. The event was opened by the leader of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe, Chairman Steve Ortiz, whose tribe hosted the event. Greetings were provided by AARP Kansas Director Maren Turner, and Heather Levi, of AAIP, updated the participants on the work being done by AAIP on diabetes education, the recruitment and scholarships available for students wanting to work with Native Americans and the cross-cultural seminars AAIP has been holding to discuss healthcare issues with tribal members. Chairman Ortiz encouraged all of the participants to learn about preparing and eating nutritional food and to share the knowledge so that other tribal members can avoid becoming diabetic.
Noted Native American artist George Levi created an original piece of ledger art, a traditional type of Native American art, specifically for the event. AARP Kansas and AAIP used the image on the cover of the cookbooks, agendas and aprons that were given to each of the chefs. The original art piece was presented to Chef Hetzler as a thank you. Food for the event was provided by Dillons, Hy-Vee and Wal Mart and the buffalo meat was provided by the Potawatomi tribe.
“AARP Kansas, through our Diversity Council, hopes to continue its partnerships with the tribes and AAIP in providing information and resources about healthcare and other issues,” said AARP Kansas Director MarenTurner. “This was a really neat event that was fun and informative at the same time.”