It's almost Tu Bishvat, the Jewish 'birthday of the trees' and an important time for Jewish reflection on our relationship with the land. To celebrate, MAZON Canada is learning more about the idea of 'Dish with One Spoon'.
This concept explains the relationship between humans, the land, and each other and is shared by many Indigenous cultures, including those in the Great Lakes region. The dish represents the land that provides our food and other needs, and the spoon represents the different people who live on it together in peace. It reminds us that we all eat from the same 'dish', and must peacefully share space and resources and care for the land. Today, it also reminds us to 'keep the dish clean' of pollution so it will continue to thrive and provide for future generations.
It originated in the Great Lakes region, used by the Mohawk, Onondaga, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, Tuscarora nations, and its use has since spread to many other cultures and nations.
It has been used as a framework for laws and treaties that structure hunting territory and peace agreements, both between Indigenous nations and with settler communities. It is referenced in the Great Law of Peace, a founding document of the Haudenosaunee Conferecy created nearly 1000 years ago. It was also the foundation of the Dish With One Spoon treaty made between the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee nations at Montréal in 1701.
Some of these treaties are formalized through wampum belts, which are belts beaded with images symbolic of the agreements.
Nationally-renowned Tuscarora art historian Richard Hill explains more about Dish with One Spoon, wampum belts, treaties, and our relationship with the land below:
Jewish tradition also teaches to leave some for others when we harvest, and to care for the Earth. In one Midrash, Hashem warns Adam in the Garden of Eden: "See My works, how beautiful and praiseworthy they are. And everything that I created, I created it for you. Be careful not to spoil or destroy My world—for if you do, there will be nobody after you to repair it." (Kohelet Rabbah 7:28)
After land restrictions, relocations and genocide of Indigenous peoples, much knowledge on traditional foodways has been disrupted. Even though edible plants and animals are all around us, only a tiny amount of food eaten in Canada today is harvested locally and directly from the land. However, the survival of the whole human race is still dependent on taking care our planet so it can take care of us - a fact as true today as it was when Dish With One Spoon was first negotiated.
Today, many Indigenous people are fighting to revive methods of growing, gathering, harvesting, preparing and preserving traditional food, and re-learn how to be nourished by the land. To learn more about these revival movements, we invite you to celebrate Tu Bishvat by watching our fundraising screening of Gather, an award-winning documentary about "the growing movement amongst Indigenous communities to reclaim their spiritual, political and cultural identities through food sovereignty, while battling the trauma of centuries of genocide."