The History of Frybread and Navajo Tacos

Navajo Taco in California by A culinary photo journal

2000px-Navajo_flag.svgFrybread (which is what is sounds like – a delicious fried, savory dough) is now a food associated with Native American culture and celebrations, and it had found its way into a number of popular dishes (especially in the Western US), most notably the “Navajo taco.” The Navajo taco is simply frybread topped with whatever taco toppings you like. You can find Navajo tacos throughout the west, and though they may seem like a novelty, they actually have a sad history. According to the Smithsonian:

Navajo frybread originated 144 years ago, when the United States forced Indians living in Arizona to make the 300-mile journey known as the “Long Walk” and relocate to New Mexico, onto land that couldn’t easily support their traditional staples of vegetables and beans. To prevent the indigenous populations from starving, the government gave them canned goods as well as white flour, processed sugar and lard—the makings of frybread.

Navajo tacos and frybread also remain somewhat controversial because although they have become a widely-accepted symbol of Native American pride, they are not particularly healthy (similar to most fried foods). If you are not lucky enough to live near a place that has Navajo tacos on the menu, you can find recipes for making your own with ingredients you probably already have on hand, or a more complex version with Osage hominy salsa.


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One response to “The History of Frybread and Navajo Tacos

  1. Pingback: 21st Century First Nations Bannock | Eating The World

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