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Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast

The exhibit runs Oct. 27-Dec. 20 and features foods important in the lives of Native Californians.

Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast is a statewide traveling exhibition from the Grace Hudson Museum and Exhibit Envoy filled with historic and contemporary photographs, food specimens, memoirs, and recipes. 

The exhibit, which opens at Old Orange County Courthouse on Oct. 27 and runs through Dec. 20, 2014, features foods important in the lives of Native Californians including fish, shellfish, seaweed, meat, vegetables, berries, fruits, flowers, nuts, seeds and salt.  This delicious look at Native foods is based on the Heyday Books publication "Seaweed, Salmon, and Manzanita Cider: A California Indian Feast" by Margaret Dubin and Sara-Larus Tolley (2008), a delightful and sometimes startling compendium of Native American cuisine.

Sherrie Smith-Ferri, Director of the Grace Hudson Museum in Ukiah (, curated this exhibition in consultation with her aunt, Kathleen Rose Smith, a California Indian artist and a member of the Coast Miwok and Dry Creek Pomo tribes. Smith-Ferri notes how much fun it was to put the exhibit together.

"It brought back lots of good memories of getting together with the family to spend time at the coast harvesting abalone, mussels and seaweed, or going to pick berries. And of course, it brings back recollections of some great meals eaten together. I found I would get really hungry if I worked too long a stretch of time on the exhibit."

"Our foods were (and still are) as varied as the landscape, as are our methods of preparing them," Kathleen Rose Smith says. "We ate them raw. We roasted, boiled, baked, leached, steeped, dried, and stored them, and, after contact, we fried, and canned them."

The book and the exhibit contain harvesting instructions and recipes for many delicious foods, including Huckleberry Bread, Pine Nut Soup, Rose Hip or Elderberry Syrup, Peppernut Balls, and Ingeniously Roasted Barnacles.

Modern California Indians have retained much of the precious plant and animal knowledge of their ancestors, and are in a process of recovering even more.

"Despite missionization, Mexican land grants, the Russian quest for sea otters, and American expansionism, we are still here," Smith states. "We knew (and still know) the land with an intimacy that results from countless interactions."

The traveling exhibition includes historic and contemporary California Indian artifacts used to hunt, gather and process California Indian native foods; historic and contemporary framed photographs of California Indian peoples gathering, preparing, and enjoying traditional food; large format framed contemporary photographs of California Indian food resources; preserved or processed examples of types of California Indian foods; and informative text panels.  Tear-off recipe pads will also be available, allowing visitors to take home some ways to enjoy California Indian foods. 

Opening Reception

Join us at the Old Courthouse on 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 to view the new exhibit.  Jeannine Pedersen, Archaeology Curator at the Dr. John D. Cooper Center, will provide a short talk on the local Orange County Indian tribes.  Dessert and refreshments will be available.  Event is free to the public.  Please contact the Old Courthouse Museum at (714) 973-6607 for more information. 

Exhibition Support

Funding for this exhibit was provided by the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, the Mendocino County Office of Education, Exhibit Envoy, and the Sun House Guild.