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February 2018
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By Peter Dixon

The Native Foods Workshop held on July 13 at the Conservancy's Laura Stein Volunteer Camp provided an opportunity for archaeology students to experience first-hand the history of the plant, marine and mammal resources that were eaten and used by early Catalina Islanders and other Native American communities. This month’s Photo Gallery illustrates not only the Native Americans' resourcefulness, but also the appetizing nature of their nature-based foods.
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The workshop hosted by Abe Sanchez and Craig Torres was a collaboration of Pimu Catalina Island Archaeology Project, the Catalina Island Conservancy, and members of the Gabrielino (Tongva) Nation.

Host Craig Torres said that "by using foods that are indigenous to the area you live, you begin to develop a relationship with the plants and the land." He also mentioned that this local knowledge can increase people’s awareness of conservation issues, particularly concerning food plants that are threatened

Mesquite Quail   –  A student of the archaeology field school fries quail dressed in mesquite flour. Photo by Peter Dixon.
Sanchez noted that many of the ingredients used in the workshop, although native to our region, were not produced locally, underscoring the need for the sustainable local production of native foods.

Understanding the conservation value for traditional food plants is important to the Catalina Island Conservancy as well, particularly where species are vulnerable. While the Conservancy discourages harvesting any plant material from the Island, it is actively managing and restoring many rare species with traditional uses through its Seed Conservation and Habitat Restoration Programs.

Photo Gallery: All the photography is by Peter Dixon.

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