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Indian fry bread
Photo: Ollie Reese, July 1956. BN 237-1026A

Navajo Elder cooking fry bread
A Dine' elder cooking fry bread in Arizona

Eskimo Fry Bread
Eskimo fry bread (learn more here)

Frybread made at Choctaw Heritage Days at Tuskahoma 2002

Nenets warming fry bread
Nenets warming fry bread (similar to bannock) in Western Siberia

Indigenous Peoples

Tous droits réservés ©Many indigenous people around the world have recipes for fry bread. The recipes are simple, mostly savory, but some are sweet.

Also called bannock.

Photo above and on previous referencing page © Paul Casavant

Britons have baked bannock at least since the time of the Druids (who avoided bad luck by never kneading the dough ounterclockwise). Brought to North America by early settlers, it soon became a staple for First Nations peoples across the continent. And everyone makes it with what they have at hand; ingredients include cornmeal, flour, rolled oats and wheat bran, lard or shortening, eggs, blueberries, molasses or sunflowers. From Canadian Living.

"Flour was a luxury item in the early days of the fur trade. It was used to thicken pemmican style soup, rubbaboo or occasionally to make galettes," writes Beulah Bars in The Pioneer Cook (1980, Detselig Ent. Calgary, Alta.).

"Galette (or gellette) was the name used by the voyagers of the North West Company for an unleavened flour-water biscuit made by baking in a frying pan, or in the ashes of the camp fire. "The Selkirk Settlers referred to their flour water biscuit as bannock. Eventually bannock became the name accepted and recorded in journals and diaries throughout the western interior of Canada." By the mid 1800s, the original flour water mixture became more elaborate with the addition of salt, suet, lard, butter, buttermilk, baking soda, or baking powder. Bannock acquired other names, too; bush bread, trail bread, or grease bread. The traditional way to prepare bannock was to mix the ingredients into a large round biscuit and bake in a frying pan or propped up against sticks by the campfire. The frying pan usually was tilted against a rock so that it slanted towards the fire for part of the baking. From the Pioneer Cook

One of the earliest quick breads, bannock was as simple as flour, salt, a bit of fat (often bacon grease) and water. Indians wrapped a similar dough around sticks driven into the ground beside their camp fire, baking it along with freshly caught fish. Today's native Fried Bread is like bannock and cooked in a skillet. Toutons are similar bits of dough deep fried. At a promotional luncheon for the 1992 Inuit Circumpolar Conference, Eskimo Doughnuts, deep fried rings of bannock dough, were served. It is said that Inuit children prefer these "doughnuts" to sweet cookies. Source

"Kenny Blacksmith, a former chief of the Cree community of Mistissini of northern Quebec, told me that they learned to make bannock from the Scottish who settled up in Northern Quebec several hundred years ago. They did not have flour before the arrival of the Europeans. When he went to Scotland a couple of years back, he had the priviledge of teaching the Scottish again how to make bannock." Jacques Dalton (Canadian Living)

North American Indian Recipes:

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