Chef Dave Smoke-McCluskey

North August-based culinary educator Chef Dave Smoke-McCluskey will give an Indigenous foodways lecture concluding Native American Studies Week 2021 on Friday, Nov. 19. Photo courtesy of Chef Dave Smoke-McCluskey.

LANCASTER – USC Lancaster’s Native American Studies Center will host its 16th Annual Native American Studies Week, “Indigenous Contributions in STEAM,” celebrating Native contributions in science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

Events from Nov. 15 to 19 include an art exhibit reception, an artist talk and programs on the chemistry of Catawba pottery and Indigenous medicine and health practices.

A talk on Indigenous foodways, “Indigenous Science and the Three Sisters Diet,” from Chef Dave Smoke-McCluskey (Mohawk) will conclude the week. Based in North Augusta, McCluskey is the owner of Corn Mafia Hominy, specializing in small batch hominy, and has been the chef-in-residence for the Chickasaw Nation’s children’s art program for two summers now.

Originally from upstate New York, Chef McCluskey is a forager who has been in foodways for over 40 years and teaches others about Indigenous foodways, hominy and nixtamalization, the process by which corn is treated and softened to make hominy. The chef will discuss the Three Sisters agricultural practice of growing corn, beans and squash in the same mound, as well as the loss of traditional foodways within Indigenous communities.

I tend to look at a lot of things and go, ‘what do we do with this?’” McCluskey said. “Some of what I talk about is not losing our foodways for the sake of decolonizing our diets when we don't really know what our diets were.”

The week’s events include:

Nov. 15, 12:15 p.m.- The Chemistry of Catawba Indian Pottery"- Art Greenberg, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of New Hampshire, discusses the science of art in this presentation analyzing the chemistry of Catawba pottery. Held in conjunction with the USC Lancaster Chemistry Club. Presented via Zoom.

Nov. 16, Noon- “Medicine among the Aztecs.” Kim Richardson, USC Lancaster Associate professor of history, explores the complexities of medicine, childbirth, sanitation, diseases and other issues within the Aztec Empire to discover what can be learned and applied to current concerns. Presented in person and via Zoom.

Nov. 17, 2 p.m.- “Indigenous Inventions Through the Ages” Special Reception. Learn more about Indigenous inventions, innovations and other contributions to the field of STEAM in this new exhibit. Presented in person and via Zoom.

Nov. 18, 6 p.m.- Artist Talk: An Evening with Alex Osborn. Alex Osborn (Catawba), the center’s summer contemporary artist-in-residence, will talk about his residency in the center’s Five Points Gallery. Presented in person and via Zoom.

Nov. 19, Noon- November Lunch and Learn: “Indigenous Science and the Three Sisters Diet.” “Cod Chef” Dave Smoke-McCluskey (Mohawk), discusses the science of nixtamalization and its impact on the agricultural Indigenous diet. Presented in person and via Zoom.

To attend the events in person, email the Center at to attend events in

or call 803-313-7172 to reserve a spot on the guest list. There is in-person capacity limit due to COVID-19 and in-person attendees are encouraged to register early.

To attend the events virtually, register at the Zoom registration links available on the Center’s  website and social media platforms.


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