A Plains native diet could actually be called “biso-vegetarian”, or something similar. Just consider this, the people were hunter–gatherers. They gathered wild fruits, nuts, and vegetables off the land for eating and hunted small game and bison or buffalo.
The meats eaten were Buffalo, elk, deer, fish, turtle (on rare occasions), and birds to name a few. The diet of that time was high in meats (for protein). But the hunting season was short, oft-times buffalo were not around… when they were roaming near, only what could be eaten immediately and dried for carrying from camp to camp was hunted and killed. The Lakota were a definite waste-not /want-not people!
Since wild game is no longer as readily available, the Lakota should be considering meats that are from grass-fed animals. I know, I know…those are expensive! It is your genetic ability to physically process foods, and your health we are talking about here!
Those that camped along the rivers did eat fish. For example: the Sisseton-Wapeton bands of the Lakota or the Minnesota Dakota bands. Although not mentioned in my research and studies, I would assume (like other foods) that fishing would have been a reasonable substitute for meats for all of the Lakota. Fresh-water clams, mussels, and crayfish would have been as well.
Small game would have also been hunted and consumed. This would include rabbits, prairie dogs, pheasant, squirrel (where there are woody areas), duck, and goose. I would think that chicken would be a good choice, but again, make sure it’s what you have grown or those that are free-range.
The reason so many Lakota people have diabetes, and weight issues today is the shift in the people’s diet. Beef is marbled with more fat than wild game. Beef was what was offered to families as food rations. Today, hamburger is a mainstay in the Lakota diet. Hamburger is NOT lean meat! Your bodies are more accustomed to lean grass-fed / free ranging animal meat such as deer or buffalo.
Then, there is the commodities program of canned everything, from U.S. surplus farm foods. All of which had high sodium and corn syrup levels. Yes, it kept starvation at bay…but the “can of worms” its distribution opened was detrimental to the health of the people. This was not initially known when distributed by the USDA.
A person of Lakota descent should take in to consideration whether you have European blood within you, as well. The paleo diet may not be the sole consideration here, just saying. That is for another discussion altogether!
Acid/ Alkaline pH Considerations
Many diseases are caused by pH imbalance. Such as: diabetes, heart disease, arthritis to name a few. Also disorders can be healed by eating correctly, such as: acid reflux, morning sickness, migraines, and constipation.
A vegetarian diet is mostly alkaline in nature. This is due to the ratio of vegetables and fruits in the diet to proteins. Meats (red meats, beef, mutton, pork, salmon, herring, mackerel, lobster, shrimp and crayfish), millet, white rice, couscous, semolina, white breads, soda crackers, white refined sugars and items coated with it, lard and some lard-like products (Crisco) used for cooking, are all foods high in acid forming elements.
The traditional diet (According to Ron Goodman’s publication) for the pregnant woman was said to be minimal vegetables, and mostly deer and buffalo. I would be inclined to think it would be wise to consider the seasons, in regards to what to eat regarding vegetables and fruits. Yellow vegetables would have a high vitamin A and C content, which is very necessary to the pregnant woman and the growth of the baby.
I am inclined to think that with as much fruit and vegetables that were gathered in past times, that the information in Goddman’s book is not entirely accurate. Yes, wild free-ranging game was a part of the diet but so were the fruits and vegetables (and dried for winter food storage) that the women gathered.
In general, a good rule of thumb is to plate your food with 2/3 alkaline foods, and 1/3 acidic. Of the alkaline types of foods, you would chose traditional foods such as: corn, squash, and beans. Wild greens can be used in soups. If you need suggestions on this, let me know. In the Orange to yellow vegetable bracket are squashes, pumpkins, and carrots. Citric fruits are not a part of the Paleo diet.
What to Avoid:
Refined sugar, all processed foods (white bread, rolls, etc.), any of the typical sweetening substitutes such as Sweet and Low (a carcinogenic) except for stevia (which is plant-based and indigenous to South America), meats with nitrates such as lunch meats and some brands of bacon, fatty meats such as sausage or hamburger. Even though you may love your fry bread (as I do) that needs to be very limited (only at ceremony or special occasions). Most of the canned fruits used for Wojapi have an additional amount of corn syrups. Use fresh fruits instead.
Grow your own vegetables
Gather fruits in season, and dry them
Raise some chickens to lower food costs.
Paleo Plains Vegetarian Diet
Goodman, Ronald. Lakota Star Knowledge.
Vasey, Christopher. Acid Alkaline Diet for Optimum Health, The. (1999) Healing Arts Press.