By: Haylie Smart | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: February 2023
Janees Taylor, a member of the Indian Woman’s Pocahontas Club, is making eggs during last year’s feast.
For some, the first sign of spring may be bright yellow jonquils, for others, it may be the green buds beginning to form on dormant trees. But for the Cherokee, the first sign of spring is the wild onion pushing its green sprouts to earth’s surface.
“The history of the Wild Onion Feast is a Cherokee tradition and it’s gone on since forever,” said Executive Director Ollie Starr. “It’s the first green of the spring.” The Indian Woman’s Pocahontas Club has been celebrating the Wild Onion Feast since the 1940s, where they forage wild green onions and enjoy them with a variety of other foods. “It was a family tradition going together to forage the first green of spring,” Starr said. “The onion outing, as a child, was exciting because it was when the warmth of the sun shines through and the brown blanket of leaves were raked away to see the little green blades of the onion.” The harvesting of the green onion is carefully done to preserve the root system for the next year’s crop, Starr said. “With the roots deep in the ground, we carefully dig them with a sharpened stick, we wash the dirt from them in the river, and then lay them straight for cleaning. It’s a traditional process.”
The annual Wild Onion Feast is a scholarship fundraiser for qualifying Cherokee students, where each student will receive $800. This year, the Indian Woman’s Pocahontas Club is benefitting 19 students, four of which attend RSU. In addition to wild green onion, the feast will also include scrambled eggs, ham, salt pork, beans, fried hominy, frybread, and grape dumplings. “It’s a spring delicacy for the Native people,” she spoke.
Starr also urges those wanting to attend to reserve their table as soon as possible, as the event books up quickly. A table for 8 is $200.00. To reserve a table, contact Ollie Starr by emailing eat0@eau0eav0eaw0 or call (918) 760-7499. The event will be held Saturday, March 18 at First United Methodist Church in Claremore. Guests may arrive as early as 11 a.m., and food will be served at noon. There will also be a live and silent auction to include artwork, décor, gift baskets and more.
Melvina Shotpouch prepares delicious frybread for the Wild Onion Feast.
P.O. Box 3252 | Claremore, OK 74018
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