Conflict Kitchen

Serves food from countries with which the United States is in conflict

Our Current Focus is on the Food,
Culture and Politics of The Haudenosaunee Confederacy


Event: Skawennati: My Life As An Avatar

When: Thursday, January 26th, 2017 Starting at 5:00 PM

Where: Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry CFA 111, Carnegie Mellon University

Thursday, January 26th, 2017 Starting at 5:00 PM Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry CFA 111, Carnegie Mellon University This Visiting Artist Lecture is presented in partnership with the Miller Gallery, Conflict Kitchen, and the Carnegie Mellon University School of Art. Skawennati makes art that… MORE >

Event: Guest Instagrammer: Elizabeth Hoover

Over the next few weeks, Elizabeth Hoover, of Mohawk and Mi’kmaq descent, will take over our Instagram account. Elizabeth recently returned from Standing Rock and will be sharing photos from her time there as well as her daily life.   Guest instagrammer @lizhoover ; For… MORE >

Event: Lunch with Haudenosaunee Leaders

When: Sunday, November 6

Where: Noon to 1:30pm

On Sunday, November 6, Conflict Kitchen will be hosting special guests Peter Jemison (Faithkeeper for the Seneca Nation) and Jeanette Miller (Program Director for Friends of Ganondagan). Members of the public will be able to stop by between noon and 1:30 pm to purchase items… MORE >

Event: Guest Instagrammer: Rowen White

Over the next few weeks, Rowen White (Mohawk Nation), will take over our Instagram account.   Guest Instagrammer Rowen White @rowenwhite Down here in the southwest at Tesuque Pueblos for a week of gatherings centered around indigenous seeds. We recieved a precious gift of Pueblo corn of… MORE >

Event: Guest Instagrammer: Lauren Jimerson


Over the next few weeks, Lauren Jimerson (Seneca Nation, Heron Clan), will take over our Instagram account.   Guest Instagrammer Lauren Jimerson @laurenajay Our ancestors stored corn by braiding the husks together, ultimately creating a long french braid. We continue this tradition today. The braid on the… MORE >

Event: Lunch Rush Trivia – The Haudenosaunee Confederacy

When: Weekly.

Where: Conflict Kitchen

Join us for Lunch Rush Trivia every Tuesday & Thursday. While in line to place your order, you and all the other customers are contestants in our trivia show that tests your knowledge about all things Haudenosaunee. Don’t know much about the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, that’s okay too.  Our weekly… MORE >

Event: Iroquois White Corn Workshops

When: OCTOBER 4, 2016, 11AM - 6PM

Where: Conflict Kitchen

Join Conflict Kitchen for a day-long series of free, public workshops highlighting traditional and contemporary uses of Iroquois White Corn. Ronnie Reitter (Seneca Nation, Wolf Clan) and Lauren Jimerson (Seneca Nation, Heron Clan) will lead informal lessons in hulling and washing heirloom corn, preparing Iroquois… MORE >

Event: Haudenosaunee Dinner Hour

When: OCTOBER 4, 2016, 6PM

Where: Conflict Kitchen

Join Conflict Kitchen for dinner and an informal discussion with Lauren Jimerson (Seneca Nation, Heron Clan) and Ronnie Reitter (Seneca Nation, Wolf Clan), both leaders in sustaining and growing Haudenosaunee culture. This event is co-sponsored by the Food Studies Program at Chatham University. Wrapping up our day-long… MORE >



Our food wrapper features interviews that were conducted
with enrolled members of the six Haudenosaunee nations
and individuals of Haudenosaunee descent.
Each section highlights the perspectives of multiple people.


“It’s a two day project to make Haudenosaunee White Corn soup. Heirloom corn and hardwood ashes are the the two main ingredients. Boiling the corn with ashes takes off the outer skin of the white corn. The fresher the ashes, the better. Once the corn and the ash really start to blend and cook, it will turn a bright orange – what I call ‘lava’. Then I rinse this mixture in my corn wash basket for about 3½ hours, until I get out most of the ‘eyes,’ the tough part of the kernel. People say, ‘We don’t want the eyes looking back at us from our soup.'”

“My grandma’s Mohawk corn soup is the best. The original corn soup would have had deer; nowadays, you might have salt pork in it. Besides salt pork, we didn’t have spices.
I feel like the most authentic Native food is just raw ingredients boiled down — pure, unadulterated food.”

“Monsanto‘s GMO corn is everywhere now. They don’t want people to be able to plant their own seeds. They’re doing things like planting GMO corn nearby so their corn will cross-pollinate with our heirloom corn. This allows them to make the legal claim: ‘That’s not your seed; that’s our seed.'”

Fry Bread

“The history of fry bread goes back to when Native people were put onto reservations and given rations of dried milk, dried sugar, flour, fat or oil. They made the best with what they had. I see it as a traditional food because it is something that I’ve always had. Whether you had corn soup or nontraditional foods, there was always fry bread for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. And anybody I know who’s Indigenous has some kind of recipe for fry bread.”

“I don’t consider fry bread a traditional food because it came from a time when the Indigenous Peoples were taken from their very resourceful lands, put on Indian Reservations and given rations. I’m going through a process of getting back in touch with the roots of our culture, giving up a little bit of those oppression foods. I think of those foods, too, as soul food: not particularly healthy for us, but ok as a once-in-a-while kind of thing.”

Fry Bread (Cont.)

“On reservations, the U.S. government experimented on us with salt, sugar, bleached flour and stuff like that, which is why levels of obesity are so high on reservations. Fry bread may be a big thing with Natives, but it’s pretty much the worst thing you could ever eat.”

“Fry bread used to be called ghost bread, since it was served at funerals as a thick scone fried in lard.”

“Our people went out West and saw Indigenous people serving ‘Indian tacos’ (flat fry bread filled with taco meats and toppings). Now they’re at every pow wow. You gotta have that, or you don’t have Indian food.”


“At the center of the Akwesasne Reservation is Cornwall Island. The island sits in the St. Lawrence River, split between the U.S. and Canada. Just a year ago, you had to go through a customs check with Canadian officers just to enter Akwesasne – armed Canadian officers on Native land?! It’s not right. It’s colonial imperialism. It’s bullshit.”

“Sovereignty means we govern our own people separate from the U.S. government, but I think that those lines get blurry. If I were to register to vote for the U.S. president, then I would feel like I was giving up my sovereignty even though I can legally register to vote. My son just turned eighteen, and he registered to vote. But he also grew up off the reservation, so we have different ways of looking at things.”

“Each nation in the Haudenosaunee Confederacy has their own way of governing. In the Seneca Nation, we have an elected president system, which we adopted after colonization. The Onondaga Nation is governed by the traditional chief system, wherein their 14 chiefs represent the Nation’s interests within the Confederacy’s Grand Council. The clan mothers appoint the chiefs, and the chiefs are the voice of the people.”

“I’m from Akwesasne, and I have American and Canadian citizenship. We didn’t cross the border; the border crossed us.”


“Even if I’m careful about my media consumption, I cannot go one day without seeing these images: American Spirit cigarettes, Land o’Lakes butter and numerous sports teams’ Native mascots. Mascoting is dehumanizing, creating a perception of an extinct people lost in the past – something cartoonish, ugly, primitive, savage and grotesque. Stereotypes of Native people are so omnipresent and powerful that folks don’t even know that we still exist.”

“It’s scary to be a Native woman. I’ve been paying close attention to the missing and murdered Native women in Canada. To be in a woman’s body is to be vulnerable; but when you’re seen as exotic and hypersexualized, it’s even more dangerous. One thing that gets me riled up is the caricaturization of Indigenous people. An example is the Princess Tiger Lily character in Peter Pan. Princess Tiger Lily is the Chief’s daughter. She seduces Peter Pan. I saw that when I was little girl and thought, “Is that what I’m supposed to be?'”

Stereotypes (Cont.)

“When people find out I’m Native American or Mohawk, they assume that I’m a walking history book. They think I know all about the French and Indian War and want to endlessly converse with them about it. I could care less about history. We’re not all history books.”

“When I was younger, I would perform at festivals. People would ask me, ‘Do you live in a teepee?’ I would say, ‘No, I live over there, in that house.'”

“I went to middle school in the Penn Hills School District, and if we were on the honor roll, we received an iron-on Indian head patch. ‘The Indians’ isn’t as offensive as ‘The R*******,’ but still, having a human being as a symbol for sports is incredibly offensive. People try to justify it by saying: ‘You guys are warriors, and football players are warriors.’ Because this image is so omnipresent in our society, people don’t think of it as harmful or offensive. We’re not symbols; we’re people.”


“People don’t think of Native Americans as actual, real people. We’re like a cartoon, a romantic idea or a picture. It’s dehumanizing. When any group of people is so utterly dehumanized, it opens the door for violence. That’s the lesson of history. The true histories of Indigenous people are in direct contradiction with what you might find in a typical American History textbook. Information about Natives, presented by non-Natives, is almost always flawed or blatantly untrue.”

“The territory that we’re on (Pittsburgh) happens to be Iroquois territory. We’re fooling ourselves in this city in a number of ways. When you look at the street names and the statues, there’s a difficult, but invisible, truth that’s not presented. Henry Bouquet committed biological warfare against over 500,000 Indigenous people in the region. Why is there a street name commemorating him?”

“Our practices and technologies are constantly referred to in the past tense, as if we no longer exist. At my son’s school, they planted a Three Sisters Garden. There was a sign in the garden that said, ‘Native Americans used to grow corn, squash and beans together.’ No – we grow it NOW – present tense. Why the past tense? It fits into this narrative of ‘a vanishing people’ who exist only in the past, who are extinct; an inevitability of colonization, part of the natural decline of Native people. These ideas cover up and excuse the facts of genocide and displacement. They erase the realities and identities of native people living in contemporary society. They cater to the white imagination, excuse guilt and allow for free appropriation, which is consumed and profited off of, without consequence.”

Cultural Appropriation

“It’s so common for non-Native people to perform Native identity, that it would never be as newsworthy or as scandalous in the way the story of Rachel Dolezal was. This makes me feel unsafe. It’s scary because you don’t understand people’s motivation. It’s like a horror movie, watching people run around wearing our identities like skin suits like Silence of the Lambs. It’s creepy. And it’s violence.”

“There is a difference between appropriating and appreciating. There’s a trend of people going to music festivals, like Coachella, in feather headdresses or going to A Tribe Called Red shows in redface. That’s the definition of appropriation. People could educate themselves about the culture instead of just walking around with a headdress saying, ‘I’m Chief Wahoo. Look at me.'”

“We went to a shaman workshop led by a non-Native, and it was the hokiest thing. Before you entered, you had to be smudged. When we got in the circle, they said that ‘Dancing Bear’ was gonna lead us in a dance. That was funny to me because when we were little, Captain Kangaroo was on TV, and had a character called ‘Dancing Bear’. We were all laughing. All of the sudden, someone in the center says, ‘We have some non-believers with us.’ And I said, ‘That would be me.’ We laughed again. And then they started dancing. They were trying to do the round dance, but I was like, ‘What are they doing?’ We started doing the round dance. ‘Dancing Bear’ comes near me as he’s playing the drum, and he says, ‘It’s hard to dance with two left feet.’ I started laughing. It was just bizarre.”

Kinzua Dam

“In the 1950s, City of Pittsburgh was repeatedly flooded by the Allegheny River. The United States government, the city and the state administrations got together and said, ‘If we built a dam upriver, we wouldn’t have flooding in Pittsburgh.’ The Corps of Engineers promised the Seneca Nation that, when they built the dam, they would move the people and give them homes and everything they needed. We believed them. Instead, they gave the displaced Native people empty trailers to live in with no electricity, relocated them to land where they couldn’t hunt as freely and broke their promise to move the Native graves. The effects are still being felt. As recently as twenty years ago, there were still bodies washing up in the Allegheny Reservoir. It caused a thirty-year depression within the Nation. Not being able to live off the land, not understanding that you have to make money to pay for that electric bill or food at the grocery store in town instead of hunting: it was a big transition for many of the families up there.”

“The Kinzua Dam in Warren, PA was billed as flood control for the Pittsburgh area, and the Army Corps of Engineers will often build these dams on Native lands. There is no plaque, no mention of what has happened. It became a place for non-Natives to go out and take their boats and jet ski and have a good time. That land was Native people’s homes. It was a third of the Seneca Nation’s territory. It was the richest, most arable farmland near the water. And now it’s completely destroyed.”


“Traditionally, no one owned the land. It was shared between all Indigenous people. Once the colonists came and started scarfing up the land, we were put on these reserves. The Two Row Wampum, a 1613 treaty brokered by the Haudenosaunee and Dutch, declared that our two nations would continue to exist together, side-by-side, and that we would not interfere with each other’s way of life. Today, every treaty brokered between the Haudenosaunee and the United States has been broken by the U.S. The reserves are the tiny bits of land that each nation has been able to hold onto.”

“A reservation is a community, just like any other. You wouldn’t necessarily know that you were on the reserve unless you saw a sign. There’s typically a lot of poverty. A lot of people can’t get jobs. When I was growing up on the Tuscarora Reservation, people had to leave the reserve to find work. Now with the smoke shops and the gas stations and things like that, people are employed on the reserve. They can be more self-sufficient.”

Reservations (Cont.)

“When we were finally allowed to put our own gas stations on the reservation, I felt like we had found a way to move forward and have enough food for the kids. Now the New York State government wants to tax our businesses – on our own land. Every time we move forward, they’re always challenging the sovereignty of the nation.”

“It was really hard to leave the reservation. I was so scared. For a long time, white men came into our villages, took our children and placed them in these institutions where their culture was emotionally and physically beat out of them. The saying was: ‘Kill the Indian to save the man.’ We learned to fear the white man. So this is where I’m coming from.”

“You know what reservations are? Prisoner of war camps. That’s what they are. Rounded up Indians on a piece of land. We are just prisoners of war.”

Citizenship and Nationhood

“I’m Haudenosaunee first, and I’m American second. It’s not that I renounce my U.S. citizenship. We’re proud to work with the United States government. Did you know that Native Americans have the highest per-capita involvement of any population to serve in the U.S. military? But then we get slapped in the face because we also want recognition of our own national sovereignties.”

“Why would I vote for the office of the President of the United States? That’s not my Chief. That’s not my President. I don’t consider myself a U.S. citizen because I am a citizen of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. At Onondaga, we have our sovereign chiefs, our own political system and our own laws. It’s true that everyone in the world will be affected by the election of the U.S. president, but you gotta stay strong and say, ‘You can’t touch our policies, our ways, because we’re still here.'”

“I want to travel on my Haudenosaunee passport, but the U.S. doesn’t recognize it. We’re treated like immigrants. If you give in and get a U.S. passport, you’re throwing away who you are. My grandpa always told me, ‘You have to stay strong with your sovereignty and your identity. If you lose that, then they’ve taken everything from you.'”


“I grew up on the Tuscarora Nation Reservation in New York. My father is an enrolled member of the nation. My mom also lived on the reserve, but she’s Italian-English-German. I’m not an enrolled member of the Tuscarora Nation, as eligibility for enrollment is matrilineal. I never felt that I was really a part of the Tuscarora Nation, and both sides have discriminated against me. My Tuscarora neighbors were like, ‘Get that white girl off my property.’ The non-Native kids at school were calling me Indian and treating me like a second-class citizen. When I went away to college, I didn’t tell people who I was or where I came from – not even my ex-husband.”

“My mother’s relatives loved to speak Mohawk together. One time, I brought a non-Indigenous friend home. My mother and her aunt were standing in the kitchen speaking in English. As we came in the door, they switched to Mohawk so that we couldn’t understand what they were saying. My friend said, ‘Why do they talk like that?’ I said, ‘Don’t your parents talk like that?’ I thought that all parents had a universal language that they used in front of their kids. That was the first time I realized that my family was different.”

“Wherever he goes, my grandpa introduces himself by saying, ‘I’m a Chief of the Onondaga Nation. This is my world. This is who I am. You’re gonna know me, and you’re gonna remember me.’ He encourages me, no matter where I go, to educate others about who were are. I’m teaching my son to do the same because so few people know who the Onondaga are.”

Additional Resources

Iroquois White Corn Project

The Iroquois White Corn Project grows, processes and sells heirloom white corn. The IWCP also works to promote food sovereignty, preserve traditions and foster healthy minds and bodies in Haudenosaunee communities.

The Seneca-Iroquois National Museum

The Museum is located within the Allegany Reservation in Salamanca, NY and features a wide range of permanent and temporary exhibits on the culture and history of the Onöndowa’ga:’ (Seneca) and Haudenosaunee.

Iroquois Indian Museum

Dedicated to fostering a deeper understanding of Iroquois culture through art, the Iroquois Indian Museum features a number of contemporary works from Haudenosaunee artists.

Ganondagan State Historic Site

Located in Victor, NY, this is the home of a historic Seneca Village and the newly opened Seneca Art and Culture Center. Ganondagan offers a variety of year-round public programming which explores the culture and politics of the Haudenosaunee people.

The Haudenosaunee Confederacy

This is the official website of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and is a helpful resource to learn more about their government structures. The site also houses the Haudenosaunee Confederacy Council newsletter.

Learning Longhouse

Created by the Iroquois Indian Museum, this interactive website provides historic and contemporary education about the six member nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

Indian Country Today Media Network

The Network offers English-language reporting from journalists of Indigenous descent.

Seneca Nation

The Seneca Nation website highlights a variety of information on the Seneca state, including historic Seneca leaders, the Seneca Nation Constitution and details of treaties made between the Seneca Nation and federal and state governments.