Many Indian foods are what me might call an "acquired taste." Some of the foods are bitter or entirely different from the flavors so common to our fast-food, super-market culture. Often times, I try to teach my children to love the Indian foods as I do, only to see them turn up their noses, stick out their tongues, and say "Yuck!" Before my feelings can get hurt, I remind myself that I felt the same way at their age. My dad practically had to force me to eat our traditional foods. Other times he guilted me out of a sense of duty to our sacred traditions.
I cherish my father's memory, but sometimes his methods were a bit heavy-handed and counterproductive. More often than not, the exercise of guilt or external force tends to inspire resistance, not devotion.
As for the bitterroots or the foamberries, I will continue to invite my children to partake in the hopes they will one day sense something of their spiritual nature. However, I need not wait to instill a love for the sweet foods like huckleberries and serviceberries. In our tradition, these are also medicines.
Whitney's homeschool program allows her to get credit for science while learning Native plants. During the last six months, she has helped me to collect several traditional roots, medicines, and berries. She helped with the pit cooking a couple months ago, and most recently she helped turn the serviceberries into a delicious jelly. We'll still save some of the berries for their more traditional purpose, but the jelly with serve as a pleasant way to become more acquainted with the spirit of this plant.
With the help of my aunt Carol, we juiced the berries in preparation for making jelly.
About two gallons of serviceberries gave us five cups of juice.
Boiling the jars.
Whitney helped with every stage of the process.
The jelly has a beautiful purple color.
At the end of the process we got six jars of serviceberry jelly and six jars of serviceberry mixed with another kind of juice. Of course, we had to test it out. Everyone had French bread with real butter and Whitney's serviceberry jelly. Delicious! We all enjoyed our learning experience, and I think Whitney got a real boost when we all praised her work. Just about everyone said, "Whitney, you make really good jelly." By the time we got home, she was all smiles. This experience was good medicine for all of us.