By: Aarika Copeland | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: February 2024
Janees Taylor, a member of the Indian Women's Pocahontas Club, is making eggs during last year's feast.
In the heart of spring, as nature awakens from its winter slumber, the Indian Women's Pocahontas Club hosts its annual Wild Onion Feast. This year, on Saturday, March 16, 2024, from noon to 2 pm, the First Methodist Church will come alive with the scents and sounds of this time-honored tradition. The event isn't just a feast for the senses but a vibrant tapestry of culture, community, and a heartfelt effort to support the club’s Higher Education Scholarship Program.
For generations, the gathering of wild onions in spring has been a significant tradition for many Native American tribes. This feast, meticulously prepared by the members of the Indian Women's Pocahontas Club, brings this ancient custom to the present, allowing attendees to savor not just food but history. “For me, this is the most important thing I can share,” said Ollie Star, a longtime member of the Pocahontas Club. “I still know how to forage the ingredients, I know how to cook it, I know what the sassafras look like, and it’s important to share that with the younger generation.”
The menu is a delightful homage to traditional Native American cuisine. At its heart are wild onions, but the feast also includes salt pork, ham, hominy, selu (corn), and the ever-popular fry bread served with honey. For dessert, the grape dumplings are a must-try, and to wash it all down, there's the fragrant sassafras tea, known as the First Drink of Spring. “We want to share our traditions, especially our food,” said Ollie. “These ingredients are becoming more difficult to find.”
This year's Wild Onion Feast holds extra significance as it marks the 125th anniversary of the Indian Women's Pocahontas Club, and celebrates five generations of members. As the community gathers to honor this special occasion, they do so with a deep appreciation of the roots that have sustained their culture — roots as deep and enduring as those of the wild onions that symbolize this feast.
Melvina Shotpouch prepares delicious fry bread for the Wild Onion Feast.
Central to the event is the club’s Higher Education Scholarship Program. The feast is a primary fundraiser for this cause, which supports the education of young Cherokee community members. Attendees not only get to enjoy a wonderful meal but also contribute to a brighter future for the next generation. “This is an opportunity for the community to invest in our scholarship program, which benefits our college students,” she said.
Following the feast is a live auction and raffle. This auction is not just an opportunity to acquire something special but also a way to further support the scholarship fund.
Given the popularity of the Wild Onion Feast, it's wise to make reservations early. It's an opportunity you won't want to miss, a chance to be part of something truly meaningful. “Our traditions are worth keeping alive and they aren’t just for us, but for us to share,” she said.
Call Ollie Star for table reservations (918) 760-7499
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