Lakota Wojapi by Erin LaVaux

Wojapi means, "fruit stew" in Lakota

There was a time when I taught the Lakota language online through my website, wrote educational software programs and had written a multitude of paperbacks from dictionaries to workbooks. Now I focus on media publishing and my children's story site, when I'm not "rebel" rousing (not to be confused with rabble-rousing) for Earth friendly victories as the Founder of Unify NoDAPL

When I think about how poor we were growing up, I am just amazed by how far we've come. 

We had so little that we only ate once a day. It became such a way of life that even when my Dad had a great paying job with 3M later in my teen years, we still never ate more than two meals daily. No one ever felt hungry beyond that. Health experts say starving your body between meals can put extra stress on your pancreas with the constant sugar highs and lows you experience. Several small meals a day are ideal to keep your sugars level. I wonder how much of that daily starvation factors into Native Americans and Diabetes. And how much obesity is due to the famine affect of storing fat when not eating. Not to mention the high carb, low produce diets. 

 

I know, bad segue for sharing a sweet recipe. But I'm really good at bad segues. *awkward silence as I stare at you* 

Okay! Continuing on!

This Wojapi recipe was passed down to my mother from a relative. I will be showing you 3 versions of this recipe. The relative's, my mother's and the traditional recipe that would have been made before cornstarch and sugar were introduced. The last one is the one I use. 

Our relative's recipe:

"Sioux Indian Pudding."  It bothers me to see those words. I dislike that many of my people are comfortable calling themselves, "Indians." I'm not militant, but I love facts and it will physically make me ill if I don't speak up when I know something is incorrect... (that has made me exceedingly popular throughout my life. It's a Geek thing.) 

 

As a child about 8 years old, I was incensed that Columbus was revered as some sort of incredible explorer instead of the bumbling idiot I felt he was. In my own words as I described my 3rd grade History class to my family after school, "Columbus was STUPID!" Ah, I was so eloquent.

 

I hated the term, "Indians." And tried to explain to people who seemed confused or in disbelief, that we were Native Americans. At that time, I was in a Texas school and far away from my Native community for the first time in my life. I was stunned to discover many people in Texas thought Natives were extinct, ancient or a novelty who wore leather and whooped and hollered while trying to scalp people.  *shudder* 

 

My opinion of Indian vs Native American, wasn't something my parents taught me. It was a realization I came to on my own as a very young child. I was born a few years after the stand-off at Wounded Knee involving Lakota Activists Russell Means and Dennis Banks. That incident was still very fresh and raw during my early years. I first began questioning our complacency with being called something we weren't as young as eight and I never stopped. It's possible my teenage and college aged Uncles had something to do with shaping my opinion. One of my Uncles is a Native Activist radio personality on a station in New York. 

 

My mother referred to our family as Native American but she wouldn't correct anyone who said differently (I didn't say she didn't silently judge them though😂). And my Dad was perfectly content to say, "Indians," he actually thought it was endearing and comfortable. And they are not alone. Many Natives are split 50/50 in their use or dislike of the term, "Indian."  Usually the only time any Native has an issue with the word is when a Non-Native is using it. I know... kind of hypocritical. But aren't we all in some way or another? 

My mother's version of the recipe - 

Lakota Wojapi (fruit stew) - with Flour

2 Cups fresh or frozen berries (strawberries, blueberries,
blackberries, cherries)

1 Cup water 

1 TB flour

 

Note: if you use raspberries, add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar to your fruit along with the flour as raspberries are more bitter. 

 

Mix the flour with the fruit and place in a sauce pan. Add the water. Cook and stir on low heat until wojapi is a thick syrup or runny pudding type texture. Let cool about 10 minutes. Dip your Kabubu bread into your wojapi and enjoy!

 

By Erin LaVaux,

www.magicstoryland.com

www.tnwcreations.com

The traditional way Wojapi would have been cooked without sugar and starches and the way I personally cook it. - 

Lakota Wojapi (fruit stew) - No Sugar

2 Cups fresh (or frozen) strawberries, blueberries,
blackberries or cherries (do not use raspberries)

1 Cup water 

 

Add the fruit and water to a sauce pan. Cook and stir on low heat until water has somewhat vaporized and wojapi is a thick syrup. Let cool about 5-10 minutes. Dip your Kabubu bread into your wojapi and enjoy!

 

By Erin LaVaux,

www.magicstoryland.com

www.tnwcreations.com

This fruit stew goes great with Lakhota Kabubu bread (Lakota flatbread). If you try any of these versions of our family Wojapi recipe, please be sure to let us know and tag us on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram!