Montana State University

New video demonstrates health benefits of traditional Native American diets

July 19, 2004 -- From MSU News Service

This new video from MSU Extension shows how to incorporate traditional Native American eating patterns in planning and cooking meals.   High-Res Available

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MSU News Service
Tel: (406) 994-4571
BOZEMAN -- Plains Indians once enjoyed remarkably good health, in part because of their good diet and in part because of their active lives.

In a new video, "Traditional Foods: A Native Way of Life," registered dietician Kibbee Conti, an Oglala Sioux, says that the traditional Native American diet can be understood as a balance among four groups, each represented by a cardinal direction. West might represent water, North protein--chiefly buffalo meat. East might stand for gathered plants, and South for such cultivated and traded plants as corn.

Conti says that unfortunately today too many of us substitute soft drinks for water, processed meats such as bologna and hot dogs for lean buffalo, almost no fruits and vegetables at all for the native fruits and other plants that were central to the traditional Plains Indians diet, and processed, starchy foods for the minimally processed foods that were important to Native Americans when they were free to practice their migratory way of life.

"As Native Americans, our best examples of good health and nutrition come from our ancestors," Conti says. In the video, she explains and demonstrates how even today we can plan and prepare healthy meals based on Indians' traditional eating patterns.

Created with a Native American audience in mind, the 16-minute video was produced by the Montana State Extension Service for the Montana Cardiovascular Health Program.
The video is available from MSU Extension Publications for $14.95 postpaid. To order, call (406) 994-3273 or write MSU Extension Publications, P.O. Box 172040, Bozeman MT 59717-2040. Credit card orders are welcome. Ask for Video No. 46.

Contact Lynn Paul, MSU Extension Food and Nutrition specialist, (406) 994-4581, or Scott Freutel, (406) 994-4902,