Native Americans (American Indians and Alaska Natives) often live on federal Indian reservations and in small rural communities. In this culture food has great religious and social significance for celebrations and ceremonies. Food is more of a social or religious obligation than simple nourishment. Common foods may be prepared and used in different ways in various regions and tribal organizations. Fry bread (fried dough) is a central part of American Indian cuisine and is eaten with foods such as stews, soups, bean dishes. Fried foods are generally prepared with lard.
Corn is the carbohydrate staple of the American Indian diet, in addition to protein-rich dried beans. Fruits and vegetables were traditionally gathered from the wild but are also cultivated on small farms. Lamb (mutton), goat, game, and poultry are more common than pork or beef.
Diabetes is a big problem in natives consuming the modern American diet.
Common food choices associated within cultural group.
Grain group: blue corn flour (ground dried blue corn kernels) used to make cornbread, mush dumplings, fruit dumplings (walakshi); fry bread (biscuit dough deep fried); ground sweet acorn; hominy; tortillas; wheat and rye products; wild rice.
Vegetable group: artichokes, cacti, chili, mushrooms, nettles, onions, potatoes, pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, wild greens, turnips, yucca.
Fruit group: dried wild berries, cherries, grapes, berries, elderberries, persimmons, plums, rhubarb.
Milk, yogurt and cheese group: none in traditional diet.
Meat, fish, eggs and nuts group: bear, buffalo, deer, elk, moose, rabbit, squirrel; duck, goose, quail, wild turkey; a variety of fish, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Fats and sweets group: tallow and lard; maple syrup and pine sugar.