• BEAR GREASE/ANA MODEL CODE PROJECT • Odanah, Wis.—Bear grease is known for its richness in cooking, particularly the flavor it adds to foods like pastries and pie crusts. But during a recent workshop hosted by Bad River Food Sovereignty and theUW-ExtensionYouthProgram,participantslearned just how nourishing makwabimide(bear grease) can be both inside of the body and out. LedbyBadRiverharvesterandskilledpractitioner MariaNevala,the“DineandLearn”eventdrewover25 community members, young and old. The agenda for the night: producing hand scrubs and beauty products from rendered animal fat, native plants, and everyday items. Attendees were also treated to a home-cooked meal with food grown on site at the Bad River Food Sovereignty High Tunnels. The workshop was one of a three-part series on using bear grease. The hard work of rendering the fat had already been done by participants of an earlier workshop and Nevala, who taught herself how to do it when her boys came of age around 17-18 years ago. “They wanted to start hunting bear,” she said. “And I hated the thought of that bear grease going to waste. I decided I’m not going to waste any part of this bear.” Nevala had heard from her grandma and others that bear grease was good for leather and boots, and also good for joint pain and hair. “My grandma always used to say that my uncles believed in bear grease. They used it for their hair. They would put it in there and flip out their combs and it kept it thick and dark. It kept the greys away! I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s what they believed,” she chuckled. Startingout,Nevalahadalot of experimenting to do to figure out how to render the bear grease. “Itwasmostlytrial-and-error,”she says, noting that the first time she tried it, she left a little bit of the meat on, thinking she could cook it with the fat. “I scorched it,” she laments. “So the next time, I cut all the meat off. Then I started cutting the fat into smaller pieces andusingaslowcooker,justtrying different things. And I would get a little bit more each time.” The best method Nevala has found so far is to use a grinder to cut up the fat and then use a Nesco to slowly melt it. Inadditiontolearninghowto make bear grease, Nevala started doing more research on plants, utilizing GLIFWC’s Plants Used by the Great Lakes Ojibwa as well as family and her own memories. “I remember my grandma using ‘frog leaves’onourskinforcutsandscrapes,”shesaid.“She would take that out and put it directly on our skin.” Nevala’s eczema cream that she makes today still employs those “frog leaves” (plantain), as well as “fuzzy leaf” (mullein), burdock root, and stinging nettles. Nevala slow-infuses the leaves—which she harvests in the summer—with bear grease to make a salve, a process that can take 16-20 hours. Eagertoshareandexchangetraditionalknowledge with friends and community members, Nevala enjoys opportunities like the workshop. “I have one friend who is really knowledgeable about essential oils,” she says, “And I know a lot about wild plants growing on the rez, so we started combining our knowledge to try out some different things.” Participants at the December 19 workshop got to trytheirhandsatmixingtogethersomeofthesethings. Working in small groups, attendees made big batches of pain salve (good for arthritis and joint pain), eye cream, body scrubs, and lip balm. At the end of an evening of good food (the squash soup and homemade garlic bread were phenomenal), goodteachings,andgoodlaughter,everyonegottotake a small jar of each product home, just in time for the holidays. A large box of pain salve was also shipped to the Elderly Center to share.And this makwabimide medicine—rich with nutrients from the bear’s diet and the restorative powers of our plant relatives—brought healing throughout Mashkiziibi—the Bad River com- munity. Bear Grease Pain Salve 4 cups bear grease 4 oz. beeswax, grated 100 drops of frankincense 80 drops of wintergreen 80 drops of peppermint 120 drops of eucalyptus Meltbeargreaseandgratedbeeswaxtogether over a gentle heat, stirring well and slowly. Add essential oils and pour into small jars. Use as needed. Important tips to remember: • Use high-quality essential oils. Check the labels to make sure that the oils you are using are 100% oil, do not contain fillers, and are preferably organic. • Don’t add essential oils when the bear grease is hot. Add when warm, right before you pour into the jars. Makwabimidekewin medicine By Paula Maday, Staff Writer Gina Nelis Secord (left) and Luanne Wiggins carefully stir and add essential oils to their bear grease concoctions. (P. Maday photo) One group of participants whipped up an orange cream sugar scrub that was made of bear grease, coconut oil, sugar, vanilla extract, and orange essential oil. The scrub, which can be used to exfoliate the skin, smelled like a dream. (P. Maday photo) Resource Plants Used by the Great Lakes Ojibwa is a 440-page book that includes a brief description of each plant and its use, a reproduced line drawing, andamapshowingapproximatelywhereeachplant isfoundwithintheCededTerritory.Thisbookcanbe purchased on the GLIFWC website at www.glifwc. org/publications/ or by emailing lynn@glifwc.org. Fiddleheads, deer meat among traditional foods eyed for model code project In a previous GLIFWC project, a Bad River elder told staff to “boil it in three changes of water” when cooking milkweed buds. Since then, we have learned from tribal elders that other traditional, treaty harvested foods should be cooked in a similar fashion, not eaten raw. We are coming to better understand some pos- siblescientificreasonsforthistraditional practice. In spring 2017, project staff col- lected raw, young bracken fern fiddle- heads(Pteridiumaquilinum(L.)),better known in Ceded Territory as wewe- gaagin. Thefiddleheadswerenotcookedor boiled but simply dehydrated and sent to a lab in Denmark to determine their concentration of a naturally occurring chemical called ptaquiloside, which is known to cause cancer in livestock. To date, there is no clear evidence of the chemical’s impact on human health. Previously, it had been unclear if pta- quiloside was present in bracken ferns within Ceded Territory and at what concentration.Through this partnership with the Metropol University College in Denmark, we learned that some raw bracken fern fiddleheads have a low concentration of ptaquiloside, while others do not have a detectable amount. It’s research like this and more which could potentially impact future food consumption advisories and poli- cies in the new “GLIFWC Chippewa CededTerritoryTraditionalFoodRegu- latory System Project.” This complex 3-year project, fundedbytheAdministrationforNative Americans (ANA), is working in three main areas simultaneously: toxicology, policy, and capacity. The toxicology area is researching contamination and food safety concerns related to treaty harvested Anishinaabe food.Theresearchisguidedbyfeedback from tribal members through the Tradi- tionalFoodInterestSurvey,wheretribal members indicated treaty harvested foodstheywouldliketoseeincorporated into a food code model. Thepolicyareaiscurrentlyworking to identify laws, regulations, guidances, etc. which are impacting access to and utilization of traditional foods. For example, current regulations impacting the use of venison in tribal Head Start program meals. By project’s end, the final area, capacity, will have assisted tribes in identifying and strengthening existing resources within tribal communities to effectively implement tribally-admin- istered food regulatory systems. Each of these three areas work together to increase tribal self-regulatory capacity and sovereign control. By learning how to harvest and prepare traditional foods safely, we can share traditional food ways with tribal youth safely as their Ojibwe ancestors intended. By Owen Maroney, GLIFWC Community Dietician Wewegaagin. (O. Maroney photo) PAGE 7 MAZINA’IGAN SPRING 2018