How to Make Frybread (1973)

Cook and member of Many Trails Indian Club of Los Angeles demonstrates all the steps to making fry bread according to her community's tradition.

Head and shoulders shot of a smiling Native woman with short hair and long beaded earrings addressing the camera; (at 00:44) close-up of another Native woman with short hair, glasses, wearing a beaded necklace and an  apron in a kitchen at the stove, the camera pulls back to capture her next to a very large metal bowl of flour into which she pours baking powder by hand; she then grabs a tall Tupperware container of salt and tosses some by hand into the bowl and then grabs another container to toss some sugar by hand into the bowl; then a closer shot of her stirring and blending the bowl’s dry ingredients by hand; she makes a indentation in the middle of the ingredients and then pours half of a tall yellow pitcher of water into the middle; various views of her mixing the ingredients with a spoon and then with her hands until it thickens; (at 2:47) the dough is already partially rolled out on the counter into a large rectangle shape and she does the last couple of rolls with a huge rolling pin; she then with a knife cuts a long strip into small oblong patties and picks them and drapes them over her arm; she then takes them over to a very large cast-iron skillet where she places them three at a time into already hot vegetable oil, a pan of already fried ones sit on the counter alongside; closer shot of her checking the doneness of the frying breads, and then picks up a finished one to show the camera; then back to flipping the frying breads; then back to her holding up a finished one, pulling off a bit to taste and then looking at the camera. 


"It comes from a reel of outtakes from a Los Angeles TV station that was preparing a report on off-reservation Indians in Los Angeles. It was filmed at the powwow of the Many Trails Indian Club of Los Angeles in 1973.  For the same report the TV crew filmed a 'Golden State Gourd Dance Society' and 'Many Trails Indian Club of Los Angeles' segments found elsewhere in the (Tribesourcing and) American Indian Film Gallery website(s).  This latter group has a website; Many Trails seems to have dissolved some time ago."  -- (Paraphrase) J. Fred MacDonald

See also: Joan Weibel Orlando, Indian Country, L.A.: Maintaining Ethnic Community in Complex Society (Champaign-Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999), 210 and following.

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