In this video, Margie Hesson shares her recipe for fry bread. Hesson is a regular speaker at the annual Native Moccasin Rock gathering of Native Americans from across the Tennessee Conference and neighboring states. Hesson gives workshops on Genealogy for Native Americans.
Mary T. Newman is the coordinator for the Committee on Native American Ministries for the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. Mary leads extensive community education and outreach events on Native American history and culture. Her skills include pottery and cooking over a fire.
Mary shared that there are as many slightly different recipes for frybread as there are tribes. There is a basic recipe but variations are due to available ingredients in different areas. At powwows you may find lots of different frybreads being prepared. Mary says you should definitely try them all!
Mary also shared that some Native Americans will not serve frybread because of the painful history behind this food staple.
Here’s what Mary has to say about the history of frybread: “During removal of the Navajo on their ‘Long Walk,' rations were not the fresh ingredients that we are blessed to have today. Forms of oil – such as lard were rancid and the flour might have weevils. 'Necessity is the mother of invention.* Feeding families with what was available led to the creation of what is today known as frybread. Wheat came from Europe and our earliest ‘flour’ came from acorns and other plants."
Despite the history, many Native Americans share frybread and enjoy it – particularly at social events such as powwows. There is one thing to learn about frybread at a powwow. Never cut line! Folks will stand in line for this delicacy. At a powwow, the frybread can be served with powdered sugar, strawberries, honey or with what is known as Indian Taco – topping with meat, lettuce, tomato, salsa and more.
*Proverb attributed to Plato, though Mary says she uses it regularly while teaching.
This video was first posted on December 22, 2020, and updated on November 9, 2021.