“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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June 18, 2024

Mesquite Pancake Breakfast Puts Traditional Spin on Classic Morning Meal

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According to the Salt River O’odham Piipaash Cultural Calendar, the month of June is known as Ha:añ Bahidag Maad (Saguaro Fruit Month) in O’odham and Xly’a Xamxuk (Sixth Moon) in Piipaash. For the O’odham, this marks the beginning of a new year.

Mesquite Pancake Breakfast Puts Traditional Spin on Classic Morning Meal

While this is the time of the year for gathering saguaro fruit, the first mesquite pods (viohogĭ in O’odham and ‘iiyaa in Piipaash) growing from the mesquite tree (kui in O’odham and ‘anaaly in Piipaash) are also ready for harvesting. To mark this occasion, the Huhugam Ki: Museum held its annual Mesquite Pancake Breakfast, which was open to the public, on June 8.

Huhugam Ki: Museum manager Gary Owens said that the first mesquite pancake breakfast in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community was held in 2006.

“We had no vato over the patio [then],” he said. “After a while, we started to use this [event] as a vehicle for letting people know about the upcoming mesquite pod season.”

Owens said that, to continue this important tradition, there is still a need for Community members to go out every year and gather the mesquite pods and the arrowweed for the baskets that carry the seeds.

Museum staff cooked the breakfast in the museum’s kitchen and danced to music by Jamaican reggae singer Desmond Dekker as they served scrambled eggs and prickly pear fruit syrup along with pancakes and ice cream made with mesquite flour. The mesquite flour was left over from last season’s harvest.

People lined up behind the museum to get their breakfast through the pick-up window. Elders remained seated in the shade while their meals were brought to them.

Also part of the festivities was an information booth from the museum, which offered a recipe for mesquite pancakes, copies of the Salt River O’odham Piipaash Cultural Calendar, samples of prickly pear fruit syrup and handouts about the Community’s traditional uses of mesquite. Antoinette Avis Pinon set up a table to sell her Maricopa “Pee Posh” pottery.

Mesquite pod gathering occurs before and after summer storms arrive and blow the seed (kai in O’odham and dish in Piipaash) to the ground. The mesquite harvest traditionally ends around September, when the trees produce a smaller secondary crop. The museum has a hammer mill that pulverizes both the pods and the seeds to make the flour. In O’odham, mesquite flour is called cu’i; in Piipaash it is called mvar. Because mesquite flour does not contain gluten, the mesquite flour is added to white flour so it can be used in bread and cake recipes.