In the early morning hours of October 12th, 1492, Christopher Columbus and his team of explorers made landfall on what he referred to as San Salvador, and what we know today as the Bahamas. This marked the first ever interaction between the indigenous inhabitants of the Americas and the rest of the world. Humanity had changed forever.
While Christopher Columbus undoubtedly changed the world that day, the people who greeted him, the Arawak tribe, were equally responsible for this historic moment. As an alternative to Columbus Day, it has become increasingly popular to refer to the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples Day.
524 years after Columbus disembarked the Santa Maria, the Spoon University chapter at Colorado College joined the Colorado Springs community and the nation in celebrating those who he encountered.
Colorado Springs residents began the day by marching from downtown to the the Colorado College campus. Holding signs and dressed in traditional Native American clothing, the festivities had gotten off to a prideful start. But of course, the best part of any celebration is the food.
Just after classes got out on Monday, Spoon members were busy rolling piping hot dishes of food across the main campus quad in a bright yellow luggage cart. Once what appeared to resemble a circus prop reached its destination, a hearty lunch spread inspired by the indigenous cuisine was laid out in front of the Worner Center, the nucleus of campus.
After planning the meal a week in advance and spending all of Sunday cooking, our hard work finally paid off. We structured our menu around the taco concept, but the originality of this buffet style commemoration took off from there. We had two different choices of meat: slow cooked blackberry and jalapeno pork, and slow cooked salsa chicken.
On the short walk back to my dorm room from this delicious meal, the fall flavors still glistening in my mouth, I wonder how the explorers experienced the indigenous cuisine. As it turns out, upon sighting massive foreign objects approaching the shore that mid-October morning in 1492, members of the Arawak tribe eagerly greeted the Europeans with gifts of food.
Evidently, they believed food was the most positive reflection of their culture. The first impression the explorers received of the New World was flavor. It is fitting that we celebrate the Arawak tribe and the rest of the native culture with a meal. They would be proud.