News / USA

American Indian Museum Celebrates Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving Day, which falls on Nov. 28 this year, families across the United States will gather for a holiday feast. It’s a tradition that traces back to the 17th century, when English settlers celebrated their first harvest in the New World.

They shared the table with Native Americans, without whom they would not have survived that first year. The restaurant at the National Museum of the American Indian pays tribute to that feast, offering a taste of Native American cuisine that most Americans wouldn't normally sample during their Thanksgiving feast.

The museum's Mitsitam Café is famous in Washington for serving great food with a generous dollop of cultural appreciation.

“We always learn something new," said Marjorie Hass, a Mitsitam Café patron. "So, you get to have a delicious lunch and you learn a lot.”

The museum celebrates Native American history and culture. And Executive Chef Richard Hetzler offers edible culture lessons for visitors to take home for Thanksgiving dinner.

“We want people to eat seasonally," Hetzler said. "We want them to realize what Native Americans probably would have been eating at that time so they really get to see and taste some of those true ingredients.”

At this time of year in the Northeastern United States, that means squash, pumpkins and root vegetables, including some unusual ones like fresh black radishes.

"Something that most people wouldn’t think of as even being edible," Hetzler said. "If you walked by this at your farmer’s market, you’d probably think, ‘What am I going to do with this thing?’”

But roast them with a little oil, he says, and they make a great salad.

Hetzler wants to encourage people to be a little adventurous. Hence, the buttermilk-fried alligator.

“People, because of being in the museum, become very generous eaters, or they like to try different things that might not be in their typical comfort zone,” he said.

OK, so there was no alligator at the first Thanksgiving. That’s a Southern thing. Hetzler admits taking some liberties with the Thanksgiving menu.

Pilgrims and Indians probably did not dine on smoked duck salad with a golden beet vinaigrette.

But duck? Yes, probably.

And a corn, bean and squash dish called succotash.

“Succotash definitely, we think, would have been represented," Hetzler said. "It’s a very traditional Native American food.”

Don’t worry, they still serve the traditional turkey and cranberry sauce.

But for people who want a bit of museum sophistication on their Thanksgiving table, the Mitsitam Café is the place.

“We become a living exhibit within the museum because they get to taste, feel, smell and really immerse themselves in that native culture,” Hetzler said.

And enjoy some great food while doing it.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: william from: scotland
November 26, 2013 3:27 PM
Find this surprising that native Americans would want to celebrate the arrival of European invaders who ultimately would seek to destroy them.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs