Frybread wars: biopolitics and the consequences of selective United States healthcare practices for American Indians

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The simplicity of American Indian frybread, composed only of flour, water, salt, and lard, belies a complex—and contentious—history and ecology. Tracing this bread’s ecology allows us to map the broader physical and epistemic violence levied by US settler-colonial society, specifically against the American Indian body under the guise of “healthcare,” while also evincing the agency of American Indians during these times of violence. This is shown initially through the problematics of a specific case in which non-Native medical industry professionals targeted frybread as a food to be banned. While seemingly a minor inconvenience, this incident recalls more vicious actions by settler-colonial society to control and regulate American Indian bodies, such as through the violence of forced sterilizations during the late twentieth century. Using this specific American Indian framework to situate Foucault’s biopolitics model provides vital insight into the spectrum of medicalized colonialism tactics that attempt the physical and symbolic removal of American Indians. Analyzing these structural forces furthers our understandings of the complex linkages between foodways conflicts (here, regarding the history, consumption, and continuance of frybread) and some of society’s most acute and pressing issues, such as poor health outcomes among American Indians.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lewis, C

Published Date

  • August 8, 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 21 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 427 - 448

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1751-7443

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1552-8014

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1080/15528014.2018.1480644

Citation Source

  • Scopus