American Indian Expanded Observance: Feasts
A feast is given after a ceremony for a special event, or according to the season. Food is given honor and respect and in the sharing of the food, American Indians share life as a prayer. The feasts help in understanding the importance of food as a life giver.
In many American Indian traditions the feast food is prepared and served by men. The story why this is done is different in every tribe/Nation. Generally it is based on the role of men, which is primarily external, such as the warrior, guardian of the people, and those who bring sustenance to the people.
At a feast, food is placed in the center of a lodge or in a long row for people to sit around. Before any food is eaten, a bit of each kind of food is put aside, talked to or prayed for, then offered to the entity for which the feast is being held. Some entities are: the changing of the seasons; honoring someone living; remembering and honoring the dead; asking for special blessings; a naming ceremony; after a prayer ceremony; or reasons that are unique to each tribe/Nation.
Many tribe/Nations hold seasonal feasts which give thanks to the Creator. As examples, during the winter feast stories are told and during the summer feast current issues are discussed.