Josh Skye came to our class to teach us how to make wasná.
While prepping the ingredients our class talked about the spiritual significance of wasna, how it is used in ceremonies and how it is used to feed the spirits. The processes, you will see, take up a great deal of time and effort. But modern coveniences made the processes easier.
First, we acquired a small elk roast from Deanna, who cooks for the children of kids kampus and the immersion school. After letting it thaw overnight we were ready to slice it into thin pieces so that it could be dried in the oven.
Waŋna tȟaló kiŋ uŋkáblapi. Kablá: to slice meat thin for drying.
Then we dried the meat on a cookie sheet in the oven that was turned on low. At this point we discussed ways our ancestors would have dried the meat, as well as the ways our grandmothers or aunts dry their meat today. Deanna for example, said she uses a dehydrator. The meat took hours in the oven to dry, but it was ready for grinding by the following Tuesday.
When our class met again, we were ready to grind and combine ingredients. To make wasná you need these 3 base ingredients: dried meat (like an elk or buffalo roast), some dried berries (like chokecherries, blueberries, or cranberries) and a fat (like kidney fat, fat from bone marrow, or shortening)…For our wasná we used dried elk, dried cranberries, and coconut oil.
We just mixed the dried meat and cranberries in the food processor or blender, then mixed in the melted coconut oil afterwards.
Now we have our wasná. We split our wasná into little baggies, divvied it up, and made sure to give some to Josh and Deanna, and took some home to share with our families.
One student sums of the experience of making wasna: “The process of this whole project is time consuming but in the end there is food that can be put away for a long time and stored as well so that there will be something to eat through the years. I thought this whole process was very interesting and I hope to use this technique in the future when food may become scarce” (LD).
Sitting Bull College students participated in a course entitled "Indigenous Perspectives of Food" for the Fall 2016 semester. This course examined the roles of indigenous peoples in historical and contemporary food systems and analyzed concepts such as safety, security, sustainability, and spirituality as they pertain to Native communities and food. This course also offered hands on experience in meal planning, food harvesting, and food preparation in a contemporary Native context.