Table of Contents

Kwabid ............................................................ 2
SPAM GUESO ............................................................ 4
Partridge in Chocolate and Notokwew Mahtchewin ............................................................ 6
Duke's Sorrel Soup ............................................................ 8
Mid-Summer Moon Bullet Soup and Spam Sandwiches ............................................................ 10
SpamMahnomen con Chile Verde Quiche ............................................................ 12
Spam Sandwich with Vinegar and Pepper Dip ............................................................ 14
opihcicikanis ękwa kaskapiskayihkan micisowin ............................................................ 16
sikâk ............................................................ 18



Shirley Bear


1 beaver

1 cup water

1 medium size onion

4 potatoes

salt and pepper

optional: garlic, oregano, and rosemary

Dumplings: 2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder



Preparing beaver: cut legs and arms; cut along the bottom side from tail to mouth; with knife, scrape fur away in the lower legs area and carefully remove castors and glands; with a knife pull and scrape fur away from carcass; remove fur and leave head and legs intact (head and legs optional); cut tail close to the carcass; cut along the stomach and carefully remove the intestines, be sure not to puncture intestines; thoroughly clean the beaver and cut away as much fat as possible.

Pre-heat oven to 375 F

Place beaver in roasting pan

Add one cup of water

Add 3 tablespoons of salt

Sprinkle pepper on top of beaver

Put cover on pan and place pan in the oven

Baste after one hour - add more water if needed

Prepare four potatoes: peeled and sliced

Prepare Dumplings in mixing bowl: add 2 cups of flour, 2 tsp of baking powder, enough water to make a soft dough, roll dough out on pastry board, cut biscuit sizes

After one hour, add sliced onion: optional - sprinkle oregano, garlic or rosemary on beaver

After 1 1/2 hours, put peeled and sliced potatoes in the pan

After 1 3/4 hours, put dumplings in pan and cook for an additional 15 minutes

Note: cook beaver longer if necessary


During mid-winter, my father would visit a designated place where he trapped the beaver. In his work to harvest wood for his ash baskets, he knew where the beavers were.

There was great celebrations and jubilation when father brought home a beaver.  I could taste my favourite part of the beaver, the back because it was cooked more that the rest.  I could taste that over-cooked dark meat.  I did not care for the arms or the legs because they were too small. While cooking, the beaver smelled absolutely aromatic. Usually with a large family, there was not much left of the beaver after a meal.

Mother would crush the under side of the beaver for the youngest of the family, so I don't recall what the under belly tasted like.

While in convent school, I was asked what my favourite Christmas food was, and I said "winter beaver." 


(This is the Wolastoqyik version of story)

Skijiin owai kelooswakun.

Elmibook, n'mitawkes eb'mod sekiton etli bonawked kwabidle,

Eli muci muk wen ikidechi-etchwuli dahus-ol-tiek. Upi-chi-ud, wech koo-ni-kah

lud etch kawbidle. Jel wech ko nigaled bakumik. Etchi wool-i-mossid etllaqisid.

Nik-wus naka wosoowok. Ethki wooli-nookowksit kwabid.

Nulidahas-ootibin. Bsi deh-wen wuli-memibo.




James Luna


1 can of Spam

1 tablespoon oil

1 can or two cups of cooked beans.

1 can or cup of whole kernel corn

1 can or cup of fresh tomatoes

2 large cloves of garlic

1 medium size onion; chopped

Chilies: I recommend fresh chilies of your choice (I personally like Serrano) or you can use red pepper flakes. The amount will depend on your taste.


Chop up onion and garlic, add to medium heat fry pan; brown lightly.

Add cup of cubed Spam; continue to brown.

Add beans and corn and mix.

Add chilies to taste and mix.

Turn in tomatoes, let simmer for 15 minutes for mixture to blend.

Serve with flour tortillas or white bread. (salt to taste but the Spam has plenty).

Grandpa's Spam Guesado (Gueso)

This story and recipe is one of the stories I use in a series of monologues on the role that food played in keeping us a strong tribal family unit. Traditional foods and for everyday substance, the preparation and reverence for food are some of my fondest memories of growing up as a man.

In the Puyoukichum (Luiseno) culture there is mix of Spanish words that have found there way into our language, as we had no word for certain things that were new to us brought by the invasion of the Spanish.  To name a few news words to our culture there was not a word for horse, there was not word for motor/car and not word for a hangover.

The Spanish word for a quick stew made out of just about anything is “guesado” or as it was turned out by us, “guesso”.  My grandfather was a great fan and maker of “guessos”, partularly as a late afternoon or for a nighttime snack.  I remember with great clarity of having to leave the area as Grandpa cooked with hot chilies and it got pretty intense when he was making some kind of concoction.


Through emotionally compelling performances and installations, James Luna has dramatically expanded the language, territory, and possibilities of American Indian contemporary art... read more

Partridge in Chocolate and Notokwew Mahtchewin

Partridge in Chocolate and Notokwew Mahtchewin


Maria Campbell


4 small partridges

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp. brandy

Flour to dredge

4 tbsp. oil or lard

1 chopped onion

1 chopped green pepper

4 cloves of garlic chopped

2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. thyme

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 large tasty tomato peeled

1 cup water or chicken stock

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. vinegar

1 3/4 squares unsweetened bitter dark chocolate grated (must be unsweetened and bitter or it won’t work)


Clean partridges and rub them inside out with salt and pepper and brandy.

Let them sit for 30 minutes, then dredge them in flour and brown them slowly in hot oil or lard.

When they are browned, add the chopped onion, green pepper and garlic.

Fry for a few minutes more, then add the parsley and bay leaf, thyme, cinnamon whole peeled tomato and water or stock.

Add the salt and vinegar then cover and simmer until birds are tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the partridge to a serving dish.

Pass the sauce through a sieve and return it to the pan.

Add the grated chocolate and cook very slowly until melted, adding more stock as needed to make a smooth sauce.

Pour over the partridges and carry it to a table, which has been covered with a lovely white flour sack tablecloth with Robin Hood written on it.

Set the table with Blue Willow china, put a single prairie rose in a vase, light a candle and enjoy it with someone special.

Partridge in Chocolate and Notokwew Mahtchewin

Our nokom was responsible for taking us out on our first hunt. Our people call it notokwew mahtchiwin, which means old lady hunting in Cree/Michif. Our parents would big talk us to make us feel good as all of us kids sat around the table the day before, making our snares and preparing for our excursion into the bush for the first time as hunters. We were probably about five and six years old, my brothers, a couple of cousins and myself. Nokom gave each of us a 10 lb. sugar bag, she tied a knot at one corner of the bag and into it we put a tin cup, along with three pieces of brown paper that contained salt, sugar and lard which we bunched up and tied with red yarn, this was followed by a piece of bannock wrapped in cotton then she showed us how to closed the bag, bunching it up and tying it tight. She called the bags muskimwahtsa, and we were bursting with pride as we slung them over our shoulders the following morning. On our other shoulder we hoisted up a little pole with a small snare at one end, this was to catch partridge. On our wrists we had five rabbit snares each, then we were ready.  We followed her single file down the trail being as quiet as could be so as not to frighten away the game. She told us to pay close attention to everything and I remember hardly breathing as I walked eyes darting everywhere. Hunting was serious business.

When we arrived at a pile of deadfall she beckoned us close so we could see the beaten trail of snowshoe rabbits. "This is a good place," she said, taking off her muskimwaht, which also carried a small tea pail, and frying pan. We followed suit and leaned close as she showed us how to set a rabbit snare. She set five of them and then we walked on. By noon we arrived at a big hill and picking a shady location we put our bags down. This was the place we would be having lunch, but first we had to catch it. "Now be really quiet and walk softly." she instructed us. "Pihew is not far away."

She picked up her pole with the snare at the end and we did the same thing and followed her. It didn't take long to find two pihews or partridges in the clearing. She put her finger to her mouth to shush us and crept up to one of the birds and slipped the snare over its head, giving it a yank and called us over. We watched as she took the birds feet and its head and gave a yank. The bird was gone. "You must learn to do this right," she instructed us as we watch big eyed. "You must make sure these creatures never suffer to feed you. You must always be respectful and thank them for giving you their life." Then she sent each of us to snare a bird and watched to make sure we did it right.  When we had all caught one, she showed us how to skin it. And we listened to her instructions, skinning the bird and gutting it then laying the feathers and innards all under a tree with a pinch of tobacco and a word of thank you to the grandmother of the partridge, for giving us our food. When we got back to our bags she showed us how to make a fire and how to roast the birds on a forked stick, stuck in the ground, over the fire.

"I'll stay here and watch the birds she said, and make us tea, the rest of you pick enough blueberries to eat with our pihew."

By the time we came back with our cups full of berries, the birds were cooked and the tea boiling. She put our berries in the frying pan with a little water and sugar and put the pan on the coals and the berries cooked while we ate. What a wonderful meal. Later after we had eaten we drank tea and nokom told us stories that taught us to be good relatives to the animals who took care of us. I still love partridge cooked over an open fire but over the years I have learned to do other things to it. As my friend Paul Chartrand, would say to "gourmet" it up and mmm yummy, there's nothing as wonderful for instance, as Partridge in Chocolate.

Duke's Sorrel Soup

Duke's Sorrel Soup


Duke Redbird



water in pot

deer meat bones

a bunch of wild leeks

cut potatoes

salt and pepper to taste


bunches and bunches of wild sorrel


boiled eggs

sour cream (optional)


Stock: In large pot slow boil water and deer meat bones, wild leeks and cut potatoes until meat and potatoes are fully cooked

Soup: Gather bunches and bunches of wild sorrel, cut and trim roots and wash and wash thoroughly. Cut leaves and throw into soup, bring to a boil, and turn down to simmer.

Extra Touches: Boil eggs separately and dice finely and float on top of cooked soup, add sour cream (optional).

Wisdom and Spam

Of the seven Grandfather Teaching of the Nishnabe or Algonquin nations, the one that is the most difficult to understand and to practice is Wisdom. The other six: Respect, Courage, Honesty, Truth, Love and Humility are far easier to acquire and easier to practice, especially if you are a dedicated follower of the Ojibway traditions. The question that is the most difficult to answer is , where does wisdom come from? Where can it be found? Is it knowledge, experience, culture, or the result of research in a wide variety of scientific fields. Some say wisdom is embedded in creation and nature is the key to it's discovery.

For me wisdom was introduced through a can of spam, one memorable summer afternoon many years ago while helping my grandfather pick some wild plants with which to make soup.

That morning started as most mornings did at our house, back in the summer of 1945, the children myself included, were eating our usual breakfast of fry bread along with puffed rice, floating in a bowl of powdered milk. The working adults had scrambled eggs, hash brown potatoes and fried spam. Every home in our small community was having a similar version of the same meal with few exceptions, my Grandfather being one of them.

I had barely finished my meal when Grandpa arrived at our door, asking if someone could help him gather wild sorrel to go with a soup bone of venison that a neighbor had given him. I volunteered not only because I loved Grandpa's stories but it meant that I would be excused from other chores that weren't as much fun.

As we headed out toward the woods behind our house, Grandpa pointed in a direction well off the beaten path, out toward a thick stand of old trees. Those tall trees, have lived a long time, they deserve our respect, he sprinkled some tobacco from a small pouch that he always carried with him. As we continued along we soon came to a number of smaller trees. Wild choke cherries and sugar plums that we had picked clean at the end of June and a beech nut tree that wouldn’t be ready to harvest till fall. Those fruit and nut tree can teach us a lot about courage, he said. Grandpa was continuing the conversation more to himself than to me. They survive the harshest winters and still they bloom in the spring and give us their fruit. Soon Grandpa was bending down and picking up a beautiful brown mushroom with a broad flat pancake-like head, these king boletes are easy to recognize he said; they don’t look like any other mushroom they are a completely honest plant nothing hidden about them, not like some other mushrooms and toadstools that live around here. I thought he sort of glanced in my direction as he said that, grandpa didn't approve of some of the older kids that I was beginning to hang around with. They were a little too wild in Grandpa's opinion. We continued to walk a short distance, and there in a clearing were the familiar spikes of red flowers towering above the surrounding fallen leaves and ferns of late summer.  Aha, Grandpa smiled, and handed me a cloth bag, he pointed to the flowers and told me to gather enough to fill the bag. These are wild sorrels he said, but I call them truth flowers they are like what we believe a truth is like, when cooked together with a soup bone in boiling water, they keep their own flavor and enhance the goodness of all the other ingredients. I didn't understand what Grandpa meant but then that wasn't so unusual, most of what my Grandpa said to me in those days didn't make any sense at all, it wasn't until many years later that I realized the complete wisdom of his words.

My Grandpa had found a couple of wild leeks and even a wild parsley while I was picking the pink sorrel, he gently brushed the dirt off the little tubers, look, he said these plants are so delicious, yet they hide under the ground because they are very humble, we can learn a lot about humility from plants like these, they only show enough of themselves to let you know where they are, but you have to dig a little bit to find their real value. I realized Grandpa was warning me against becoming to full of myself, since I had won the essay contest at school and also come home with the best grades in the class for that year.

As we headed home, with our small harvest, Grandpa bent down and picked a sprig of ground ivy, the kind that creeps along the forest floor sometimes circling small trees or climbing through the raspberry bushes. These ivy climbers just love the other plants, he mused, see how they cling and hug the little trees.

It was mid afternoon when we returned home, as we sat at the kitchen table Grandpa sorted and washed the vegetables for his soup, he was delighted with the days pickings and said the forest was just full of good things to eat. Indians he said had always lived by honoring the Mother Earth and harvesting the food that grew in the woods that was what the Creator wanted. He sighed and continued the story, he said everything changed, once the White man arrived. The settlers cut down the food forest for wood and paper, then ploughed the earth and planted crops, Our harvest from the forest was destroyed and lost to us.

I could hear some sadness in my Grandpa's voice as he related this bit of history to me. I hoped to cheer him up and bring him back into the present, after all things weren't that bad.  I said, we did we get lots of things in return, didn't we Grandpa?

Yes, he said, we did get some things in return, he picked up a can of spam that was sitting on the counter, he put in down on the table in front of me.  One of the things we got in return was this!  Here, what does it say on the label. I squinted and read the fine print. Ingredients;  pork, salt, water, modified potato starch, sugar, sodium nitrite.

And that is how I discovered the meaning of wisdom from of all things. A can of Spam.

Mid-Summer Moon Bullet Soup and Spam Sandwiches

Mid-Summer Moon Bullet Soup and Spam Sandwiches


Lynn Acoose


3 quarts water

1 1/2 cup wild onion

4 cups of potatoes cut in 1" pieces

1 lb extra lean ground beef

1 cup diced wild onion

1 cup bread crumbs (or 3/4 cup rolled oats)

Salt & pepper to taste

1/4 cup flour

1 cup of cold water

2 cups wild prairie turnip, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces

2 cans of Spam/Klik/Holiday/Prem Luncheon meat

6 tablespoons tbsp mayonnaise

4 tsp green relish

1 loaf of bread of your choice (mine would be Broadview bread)


Note on harvesting: These recipes contain some non-domesticated plants. A tobacco offering is always made when harvesting or gathering, done according to the protocols specific to your circumstance. You can substitute the non-domesticated plants with store bought, but I urge you to find a way to pick some of the ingredients yourself.

Bullet Soup: Bring water to a low simmer and add the onions and cubed potatoes. Leave this to simmer until the potatoes turn soft.

Mix the ingredients for bullets (ground beef, wild onions, breadcrumbs and salt/pepper) and roll the mixture into balls of about 1/2 inch diameter. Add bullets to broth when the potatoes are cooked. Cook on a low boil for about 20 minutes.

Using a fork, whisk flour and water in a tall cup until the mixture is smooth. When the bullets have cooked for 20 minutes, gently stir in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon until it is evenly distributed in the broth. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the wild prairie turnip right after the bullets, if you want a softer texture or add them right after the flour mixture if you want al dente.

Spam Sandwiches: Mash the luncheon meat with a fork. Add the mayonnaise and relish and mix evenly. Use this spread to make sandwiches. If you want to indigenize this recipe, try flavouring the meat spread with the petals from purple star plant (meadow blazing star - don't confuse this with horse licorice/giant hyssop or spotted blazing star). Pick the petals and chop finely. Add to taste.

Serves a small clan of 4 - 6

On Loss, Cooking and Resilience

This is, to be sure, a special meal for a special occasion. The food is high in starch and carbs, more suitable for a meal in the winter-time, since the high starch value would boost serotonin at a time when you would really need it.  I would make this meal for a feast or after many days of rain. I would also make this meal for gravediggers or for a wake.

My late mother used to make bullet soup and grease bannock for New Years Day. On occasion, when she had only a few visitors, her dog would be lucky enough to get the leftovers. She taught me how to make bullet soup, along with many other things, like crushed chokecherries, traditional duck soup, venison sausage and of course, her famous Saskatoon pies.

A tip I was given from a feast maker, or Gîzikwê, is to roll the bullets in to the soup gently, so they do not break apart. The old ladies also taught me that I must cook with a good heart and mind. This also applies to picking and preparing medicines. It is probably a good idea to learn this discipline in anything you do for others.

Before I sat down to write this morning, I got an email in relation to potash exploration in our traditional territories. During the writing this piece, I received a call inviting me to an information session hosted by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization. My grade ten English teacher, who passed away four years ago would say, "What you have here is a paradox." That's a term that has fallen out of use, but still a durable word nonetheless. Deep time, without the intrusion of colonizing processes is endangered, like the habitats of our traditional foods and medicines.

I set out to learn how to pick medicines and to harvest food about sixteen years ago. I was on a path to get myself better, relying on faith in our own beliefs and cultural ways. This is really tough work; there is nothing easy about it.  A good part of my time was spent on the land, mostly working but sometimes just being at ceremony. After about eighteen months of this work, I was picking sweetgrass all alone, and I felt an overwhelming sense of belonging. Not to anyone or any group, not to myself, but to the earth - Nimâmâ. I understand now, how much I owe her. We can’t rise above our colonization until we understand that.

Every day since, I take time to acknowledge Nimâmâ, to understand my belongingness. And I make bullet soup with less frequency now, since the preparation requires patience and good timing. These days my life is full of interruptions, so cooking special recipes is limited to times of celebration or the passing of someone close to me. But I live among relatives and the people, so until I have more time to feed others, I can rely on the fortitude and responsibility of community when my loved ones and I are in need of "spirit food".

SpamMahnomen con Chile Verde Quiche

SpamMahnomen con Chile Verde Quiche


Keith Secola


1 9-inch unbaked pie crust

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onions

1 cup spam (cubed)

2 tbsp green chilies

2/3 cup of cooked wild rice

1 cup Havarti or Swiss cheese (cubed)

5 eggs

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

1/8 tsp pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Saute spam and onions in olive oil; add green chilies to heat through; mix with wild rice and set aside.

Beat eggs, heavy cream, and pepper with wire whisk until blended.

Spread cheese on the bottom of the pie crust, layer spam mixture over cheese, then pour the egg mixture on top.

Bake for 45 minutes until egg mixture is set and golden brown around the edges.

Let stand 10 minutes before serving

SpamMahnomen con Chile Verde Quiche

My introduction to spam was a spamwich. We ate it straight from the can between two brown pieces of bread. (NDN Spamwich). It was a shore lunch in northern Minnesota. My folks were out on the lake ricing for Anishinabe Mahnomen (Wild Rice). I cut pieces of spam with my Swiss pocketknife. I was with my brother. It was a pleasant childhood memory. Later we learned we could cook or bake it with anything from chile to wild rice.

Mahnomen (wild rice) is food growing on water, aquatic grain. One of the healthiest foods on the face of the earth. Even though it is considered gourmet food it has some humble beginnings. It has sustained Anishinabe households for a long time. 

Chiles are the essence of southwest cooking. After I migrated from Minnesota to Arizona it did not take me long to realize how true this is. Eating chile can make you healthy,  "if your stomach can Chile, it can handle anything".

The memory of eating Spam during ricing inspired this recipe. I am the Sous Chef; my wife Patricia is the Chef. 

Spam like fry bread should be eaten in moderation. Exercise and a healthy diet will add happy years to your life. These wholesome ingredients make this Quiche one tasty dish.

Spam Sandwich with Vinegar and Pepper Dip

Spam Sandwich with Vinegar and Pepper Dip


Richard Hill


2 slices white bread

2 thick slices of spam or klik, depending on local availability


vinegar (apple cider or malt preferred)

ground black pepper


Butter the bread and create a sandwich using the spam slices.

On a separate shallow (but lipped) side plate pour several tablespoons of vinegar.

Sprinkle ground black pepper into the vinegar to taste.

Cut the sandwich in half and dip one of the absorbent cut ends into the vinegar and take a bight of this portion.

Re-dip as necessary (if serving more than one person, each person should have their own vinegar side plate because of the necessity of double dipping).

Spam Sandwich with Vinegar and Pepper Dip

This is a family recipe, something we ate from time to time when I was a kid. I haven't eaten it in perhaps twenty years. The spam and white bread is the "Indian" bit, but as far as I can tell the vinegar is a family eccentricity. We put vinegar on fried eggs too. I've learned to substitute Tabasco sauce to avoid strange looks from waiters and waitresses at breakfast (Tabasco sauce is just vinegar with a different sort of pepper). But I don't eat fried eggs much anymore either, since they are not so good for you. I should also say that when I began eating dim sum and first came across the idea of meat filled dumplings that you dip in various Chinese vinegars, I felt right at home.

I said that spam is the "Indian" bit, but it is really mostly just the poor people's bit. When I was a kid the former almost always meant the latter, so it was easy to get confused between things that belonged to one's ethnic heritage and those that were symptoms of poverty in general. That's really something, if you think about it.

Your family teaches you how to eat. Mine taught me that getting enough to eat was the important thing and, more importantly, putting meat on the table seven days a week was the most reliable index of success. It was important to be, as my granddad would say, "a good eater," by which he meant to eat a lot. I have a friend, Marilyn Jung, who spent the early years of her childhood in China. Meat was a luxury and on the rare occasions when her family could afford some pork, her mother would make sure and smear some grease on all the kids' lips before sending them out to play, so that everyone in the village would know that they had been eating meat. She also claims that the BBQ meat displays in the windows of many Chinatown restaurants are a celebration of wealth and plenty and come directly out of this history of want. I can relate to that.

When I made this sandwich in order to photograph it I thought I might try to eat it for the sake of nostalgia. But the click smelled too much like the canned food we feed our cats and I wasn't able to get it down, not even with the help of the vinegar. So now you can see how this recipe, because of the ironic protection provided by twenty years of temporal and social distance, starts to look a bit like a success story. If I told you that I have recently begun eating a healthier diet and losing a lot of weight it probably seems even more so. But it's not just my success story, it is an "Indian" success story and an art world story too, a story about those of us who have been successful and now have nice middle class educations, and nice middle class jobs and nice middle class diets. At the same time I think we should be attentive to the gap that has now opened up where before there was a unity: the gap between who we were and who we are now, but also the gap between those of us who now have the luxury to worry about the quality of what we eat and those of us who do not.

opihcicikanis ękwa kaskapiskayihkan micisowin

opihcicikanis ękwa kaskapiskayihkan micisowin


Joseph Naytowhow


2 1/2 cups BRODIE XXX self-raising cake and pastry flour - premixed (baking powder and salt already added), enriched - pre-sifted

1 1/2 tsp allspice

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 1/2 cups sugar (brown/white optional)

1 cup butter softened for easy mixing with spices

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup milk

3 eggs


Adjust oven rack to be placed in the middle. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-12 inch metal pan.

Whisk dry ingredients and spices in a large bowl.

Mix eggs, milk, vanilla extract in a 2-cup measuring cup.

Blend or stir butter in a mixing bowl until soft and whipped.

Mix in dry ingredients until mixture is uniform and one color.

Slowly add the 'milk'xture beating/mixing until you create a smooth batter.

Blend the sugar in with batter for a half-minute then pour evenly into an oiled and floured cake pan.

Bake for 40-55 minutes. Check after 40 min with a tooth stick. Voila! You are ready to celebrate!

Don't forget to cool your spicy sweet cake then dive into it.

Grandmother's Special Spiced Cake (and canned meat

When I was ten years old back in the early 1960's, as a gift from the La Ronge Indian Band, each child and adult would receive one case of Spam, (nine cans). During this time I lived temporarily in Sucker River, a rural reservation where my grandmother, Nancy, was born.  As a member of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, she welcomed the gift of kaskapiskiyihkana (canned food). This meant that Nancy would set aside the wild food menu and get creative with the canned processed pork. Who knows what other ingredients were contained in this fancy labeled can named Spam. Other names for Spam are Indian steak, or Neechi steak.  

Nancy easily opened the can as it had a little lollipop shaped opener with the narrow end having a slit that would attach onto the little metal belt wrapped around the Spam. She tugged at the lid creating a distinct sucking sound to reveal the pale pinkish meat.  

Frying Spam or slicing it up cold were the primary methods of preparation. Today, one might simply microwave the Spam.  Enriched white bread or oven-baked bannock, (Nehiyaw/Cree version of the Scottish scone bread), along with some vegetables would complete the Spam meal. Corn, carrot, lettuce seeds, and seed potatoes were given out by Indian Affairs in springtime. I remember my grandparents clearing bushes so that these could be planted.  

Topping off the Spam dish was the delicious flavor of home made spice cake my grandmother made from spices called opihkasikansa. One hundred pounds of flour, also gifted by the La Ronge Indian Band via Indian Affairs, provided the other vital ingredient. Only a few other baking items would need to be purchased to bake this special spice cake. Yummee! My sister Rose remembers our grandmother saying, "We warm up the Spam and eat it with potatoes and washed lettuce with added sugar as dressing".

My grandmother would bake her special spice cake from scratch. In her own words she recently told me, "Nosisim (grandchild)", she said, "I am getting on in age and don't remember all the details of the spice cake I once made for special occasions." Measuring amounts for Nancy's spices and salt along with other ingredients for the spice cake would all be done by adding "a pinch of this and a pinch of that."
While I can appreciate the mastery of this style of baking expertise, I took some liberties in making my version of granny's spice cake and relating her story. Enjoy!




Neal McLeod


1 skunk


organic free range oregano



feed it to your son and say: smell my boy, I bought you a Happy Meal.

Neechie Fear Factor

ôma âcimowin piko ka ayamicikêkâtêk piponi piko, ahpo cîkâ astêwa wonder pahkwêsikan kinipêwinihk...

Neal McLeodNeal McLeod