MTV’s ‘Rebel Music’ to Feature Indigenous Artists in North America



By Jamilah King,

MTV is marking November’s Native American Heritage Month by premiering a 30-minute episode of its “Rebel Music” series on young indigenous artists in North America. The series looks at socially conscious artists across the globe. This episode, for which renowned street artist Shepard Fairey serves as an executive producer, features stories of Frank Waln, Inez Jasper, Nataanii Means and Mike Clifford. They’re all activists who channel their messages through art in an effort to combat the devastating realities of issues ranging from suicide to sexual assault in their communities.

Here’s a sneak peek:



In a somewhat unconventional move, the episode will premiere on Rebel Music’s Facebook page next Thursday, November 13 at 4pm EST/1pm PST. Stay tuned.

How to forage for wild berries

By Tama Matsuoka Wong, Grist

Cross-posted from Food52


Tama Matsuoka Wong

Foraged vegetables are always more fun to cook. So Food52’s resident forager, Tama Matsuoka Wong, is introducing us to the seasonal wild plants we should be looking for, and the recipes that will make our kitchens feel a little more wild.

If you’ve ever found a blueberry or a black raspberry on the side of a trail and popped it in your mouth, you’ve been foraging. Although it’s more convenient to “forage” farmers markets or grocery aisles for cultivated berries, I love the intense flavor of wild berries, as well as the fun of picking them in their natural habitat. Here is a rundown of some of the summer season’s most common wild berries:

Aggregate berries: Raspberries, blackberries, and wineberries

Aggregate berries are distinguished by their tightly packed clusters of fruits, known as carpels. The most common example is the raspberry, which is really a bunch of tiny red fruits clustered together. This sort of formation is a good thing, because each little fruit droplet on its own would hardly be enough for a mouthful!

These berries belong to the rose family, and grow on long arching “canes” that often form dense, brambly thickets. Much like roses, their bristles and thorns can make picking a somewhat prickly adventure — so be prepared!


Tama Matsuoka Wong

  • Wild red raspberries, or Rubus strigosus (above), can be found throughout North America, excluding the Deep South. Unfortunately, I sometimes find that wild raspberries can be quite seedy and dry, depending on the place and the weather. Black raspberries — the eastern Rubus Occidentalis and the western Rubus leucodermis — are native to North America and are found from mid- to late summer.
  • When you pick a raspberry from its plant, it leaves behind a small white cone — that’s the “receptacle,” which attaches the fruit to the cane. The blackberry cone receptacle, on the other hand, remains attached to the fruit, which explains why blackberries are flat where they connect with the plant, while raspberries have that hollow bit where the cone once was.

Tama Matsuoka Wong

  • The Asian wineberry, or Rubus phoenicolasius (above), grows on the shady edges of woods throughout most of North America, and is easy to identify because it has very fuzzy, thorn-less canes. Some wineberries are more tart than others, but they all have an incredibly fresh taste and a ruby-colored, jewel-like shine. The fruit emerges from fuzzy cases — which almost look like Christmas lights — which slowly open to reveal bright red berries. Like raspberries, they leave behind a small, white, cone-shaped receptacle when picked. Since wineberries are invasive, I never hesitate to hack away at their canes like a lumbering bear.

Tama Matsuoka Wong

  • Mulberries (above), often found on old farms and in backyards, are also aggregate berries, but they grow from trees. The entire fruit is joined to the stem directly, so there is no white receptacle left behind when they’re picked. The indigenous mulberry tree, Morus Rubra, has been hybridized with the Morus Alba tree from Asia, and now bears both white and red fruit.

“Crown” berries: Blueberries, huckleberries, and juneberries

Wild blueberries and huckleberries are in the Heath family, and grow as bushes or shrubs in soils with low acidity levels. While these are all bluish in color, the key identifier is that the edible blueberries all have a crown at one end.

  • Wild blueberries (below) look very similar to the store-bought variety, except they’re much smaller and less plump. What they lack in girth they make up for with incredible flavor: After I’ve been eating a lot of wild ones, I find cultivated blueberries taste bland and watered down.

Tama Matsuoka Wong

  • Huckleberries are quite small, though their seeds are larger than those of blueberries and tend to stick to your teeth. My friend, West Coast-based forager Connie Green, swears by coastal huckleberries, which take on a deep flavor in September. While huckleberries have had a couple of difficult years due to droughts, she reports that this year looks more promising.
  • Juneberries, also called serviceberries, are bluish-purple berries that have a crown at one end but grow from trees rather than bushes. The Amelanchier canadensis variety grows wild on the East Coast, while the Amelanchier alnifolia, known as saskatoons, are prevalent in the Pacific Northwest. These berries are plump and juicy, with a sweet-tart taste; like aggregate berries, they are also a part of the rose family. They make great jam, especially when mixed with rose petals.

It is important to note that there are several varieties of poisonous berries: Pokeweed, privet, honeysuckle vine berries, nightshade, and Japanese honeysuckle are all blue or purple in color; red-colored poisonous berries include bush honeysuckle and yew. Neither are aggregate fruits, nor do their berries have crowns. Always be sure to identify your plants, and do not just pop any old berry into your mouth as an experiment.

After a day spent foraging (and gobbling) berries in the woods, the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time cooking, which is exactly why I tend to rely on store-bought pie crust for this incredibly simple pie. The pie is all berry, so their wild flavors shine through. It gets its zing from a bit of lemon and cassis, a trick I learned from my friend Betsy. It is also very flexible in terms of berry-to-berry ratios, so if I’ve eaten up most of the blueberries, I can just add more wineberries, and so on.

Mia Wong

Mixed Wild Berry Pie with Cassis
See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.
Makes one double-crust 9-inch pie 

1 double pie crust (your favorite recipe, or store-bought)
5 cups mixed wild berries (I used 2 cups wineberries, 2 cups wild blueberries, and 1 cup mulberries)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cassis
Juice of half a lemon
Zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup flour
Fruit jam (we used wineberry-blueberry jam from last year)
1 egg yolk (optional)
Raw sugar (optional)

Tama Matsuoka Wong is a professional forager and the author of Foraged Flavor.

Due North: Out of the Earth

Scientists find scary old things in the Arctic ground

By Matthew Mallon June 1, 2014

tumblr_inline_n61n1bKuve1sy1jdxNanuqsaurus, the North’s new “pygmy” dinosaur, was announced to much hoopla this spring, when fragments from a 2006 excavation in Alaska were identified in a recent report as a separate, smaller Tyrannosaurus species. But not much smaller. Despite the fact that Nanuqsaurus was a) half the size of his regal relatives, and b) likely covered in a coat of downy feathers, the 70-million-year-old reptile was still six metres from head to toe, able to comfortably snack on even the largest modern polar bear.

But a more menacing—and much tinier—discovery comes from across the Bering Strait, where scientists have recently revived a virus long preserved in Siberian permafrost. It was harmless. But their results prove there are unknown viruses buried in the permafrost, and some might not be quite so benign. “Mining and drilling means bringing human settlements and digging through these ancient layers for the first time since millions of years [ago],” the researchers wrote in their report. “This is a good recipe for disaster.”

Gathering of Nations Named One of the Top Events in North America

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

The Gathering of Nations powwow, the world’s largest gathering of Native American and indigenous people, has been designated as one of the Top 100 Events in North America for 2014 by the American Bus Association.

“Each year, more than 100,000 people from throughout the United States, Canada, and around the world attend the powwow and we want to make sure that it is a positive experience for everyone,” Derek Mathews, founder of the Gathering of Nations, said in a press release. He also said that it was an honor to be recognized as one of the Top 100.

The 31st annual event is to be held in Albuquerque, New Mexico from April 24-26, 2014. The powwow was selected from hundreds of nominated festivals, parades, theaters and shows. The judging committee considered the event’s broad appeal, its accessibility to motor coaches and skill at handling large groups, and a variety of relevant criteria to make their final decisions.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Kentucky Derby and Mardi Gras made up the list of top 100. The Star-Spangled Spectacular in Baltimore, was listed as the No.1 event in America; and the Québec City International Festival of Military Bands was the No. 1 event in Quebec, Canada.

Peter J. Pantuso, ABA’s president and CEO, said in a news release that this honor gives the powwow an important boost in visibility. “The Gathering of Nations has been recognized as a potential magnet for tourism dollars, at a time when reenergizing domestic tourism is so important to our spirit and our economy.



Coca-Cola Tries To Keep Up With Growing Health Consciousness

(Photo/Marion Doss via Flickr)

(Photo/Marion Doss via Flickr)

By Trisha Marczak, Mint Press News

Coca-Cola sales are plummeting in the wake of a growing movement away from sugary soft drinks in the U.S. and increasing concerns over the link between sugar, obesity and diabetes.

Profits for the global soda giant dropped by 4 percent this quarter, compared to last year at this time. The overall drop was influenced by a total soda sale decline of 4 percent in North America, where consumers are caught in the midst of a battle between retail advertising and government warnings over the negative health impacts of soda.

In June, the American Medical Association labeled obesity a disease, pointing a finger directly at the increase of U.S. sugar consumption and calling on the United States Department of Agriculture to cut sugary drinks out of government-sponsored food assistance programs.

The call to cut back Americans’ intake of sugar comes after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s soda ban, a proposal that would have banned sale of sugary drinks — mainly sodas — that come in containers larger than 16 ounces. While the proposal is still being worked out in the courts, the Bloomberg’s proposal brought the debate about soda’s health impact to the front lines.

Coca-Cola isn’t pointing to the social debate over sugary drinks as the main component of its decline in sales. Instead, it’s talking about the weather.

“Our second quarter volume results came in below expectations, reflecting an ongoing challenging global macroeconomic environment and unusually poor weather conditions in the quarter,” Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent said in a press release following the second-quarter earnings release.

While Coca-Cola claims its downturn in North American soda sales is largely due to weather, arguing that people drink fewer sugary beverages when it’s just not nice out, it comes in the midst of a U.S. health-inspired trend that’s moving consumers away from the sugar-filled drinks that make up the company’s portfolio.

“Soft drinks are the devil product at the moment,” London Metropolitan University nutrition policy professor Jack Winkler told the Wall Street Journal.


Coca-Cola denial and the growing scientific debate

In an attempt to stay relevant in the midst of a society growing more aware of the impacts sugary drinks have on health, Coca-Cola is in the midst of attempting to create a soda that uses low-calorie sweetener while still providing a full-body taste.

This follows a campaign launched at the beginning of the year that attempted to brush off the obesity scare, urging Americans instead to get out, exercise and quench their thirst with a Coke product.

“We’re watching, we’re learning,” Steve Cahillane, who heads Coca-Cola’s North American division told CBS News.

The company is also engaging in the nationwide conversation, portraying itself as a leader in the fight against obesity. A commercial released recently aims to market Coca-Cola as a company intent on reducing calorie consumption and battling the obesity epidemic.

According to the American Medical Association, 36 percent of American adults are obese or overweight. If trends continue, experts predict that could rise to 50 percent of Americans by 2040.

On top of obesity, the nation is also seeing a rise in Type 2 diabetes. A recent Harvard study indicated that people who drank two cans of sugary drinks a day had a 26 percent greater risk of developing diabetes. It also found that men and women who increased sugar consumption with a 12-ounce serving per day gained an average of 4 pounds every year.

“For over 125 years, we’ve been bringing people together. Today we’d like to come together on something that concerns all of us: obesity,” the Coca-Cola commercial states. “The long-term health of our families and the country is at stake. And as the nation’s leading beverage company, we can play an important role.”

The commercial goes on to give a glowing report of just how hard Coca-Cola is working to provide “healthier options” for American consumers, claiming that a growing percentage of products are ones that have been severely limited in caloric content.

“Across our portfolio of more than 650 beverages, we now offer 180 low- and no-calorie choices and most of our full-calorie choices now have low or no calorie versions,” the ad states. “Over the last 15 years, this has helped reduce calories per serving across our industry’s products in the U.S. by about 22 percent.”


Will Coca-Cola win the ‘health’ battle?

By the end of 2013, Coca-Cola plans to help limit portion sizes by offering smaller bottles and cans of various sodas available in 90 percent of the country, according to the advertisement. This adds to what it claims are efforts to help consumers make the right choices.

The commercial states that elementary and high schools throughout the nation have been equipped with Coca-Cola vending machines that have increased the choice of low- and no-calorie drinks, including diet sodas.

According to a Wall Street Journal report in March, one-third of North American Coca-Cola sales came from low- and no-calorie beverages.

“We are committed to bring people together to help fight obesity,” Stuart Kronauge, Coke’s North America Sparkling Beverages Division general manager told Time magazine. “This is about the health and happiness of everyone who buys our products and wants great-tasting beverages, choices and information. The Coca-Cola Company has an important role in this fight.”

In line with Coca-Cola’s push for no-calorie drinks in U.S. schools, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates that from 2007 to 2008, 12.5 percent of children were consuming artificially sweetened beverages during a 24-hour time period — double the amount children were drinking 10 years ago.

And while that gives the company a favorable statistic in terms of sugar content, with a 90 percent reduction in beverage calories sold in U.S. middle and high schools since 2004, it doesn’t eliminate health concerns.


Concerns over the no-calorie push

A mock Coca-Cola anti-obesity advertisement addresses this issue, citing health concerns related to the use of no-calorie sweeteners.

“Even though we’ve reduced the calories per serving, these beverages can still cause kidney problems, obesity, metabolic syndromes, cell damage and rotting teeth, which leaves 470 beverages which have extremely high unhealthy levels of calories,” the mock ad states.

The ad that took a stab against Coca-Cola is based on studies conducted on aspartame, the ingredient that is most often found as a substitute for sugar in low- and no-calorie beverages.

It wasn’t too long ago when no-calorie sweeteners were considered dangerous chemicals.

In 1958, Congress required the FDA to ban any additive that was known to cause cancer in animals or humans. In the 1960s, cyclamate was removed from U.S.-sold products when it was linked to cancer. Specifically, chicken embryos that were exposed to aspartame began to develop deformities. A later study showed rats fed the product grew bladder tumors, according to a Time magazine report.

By the 1980s, aspartame moved on to the market, becoming the preferred additive for diet colas. This was after a 1980 Food and Drug Administration Board of Inquiry study that initially deemed the additive to be potentially dangerous and a carcinogen.

“The Board has not been presented with proof of a reasonable certainty that aspartame is safe for use as a food additive under its intended condition of use,” the report states.

However, a year later a new set of studies favorable to aspartame emerged, and it was approved for U.S. market consumption.

In 1985, Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle, the company that owned the aspartame patent. Since then, it has become the go-to for the soda companies, including Coca-Cola in their quest to produce low- and no-calorie beverages not just throughout the U.S., but throughout the global market.

“The key here is to ensure that in every market where we operate to have no- or low-calorie beverages of our main brands available,” Kent said in a conference call, according to the Wall Street Journal. “We do not have that consistently across the world today.”