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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Preparing wild onions
(2012.201.B0098.0764, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).


From February to April wild onions are gathered for a major spring event of all of the Five Tribes of eastern Oklahoma. Wild onion dinners are held privately in homes and publicly, often in churches, to raise funds. Prayer and singing in the native language sometimes accompanies dinners held in churches.

The onions are usually, but not always, fried with scrambled eggs. Poke salad might be added to the onions, or it could be served separately. Corn breads of various kinds are present, some are sour (prepared with fermented meal) and some are flavored with parched purple pea hulls (blue bread). Both sweet (unfermented) and sour hominy are common, often containing pork. In recent times fry bread, made from wheat flour, has become popular. Red beans are part of every dinner. Common meats are fried pork (salt meat) and stewed beef. Hickory nut soup (Cherokee connuche) is sometimes added to various dishes. Other foods might include fried chicken, rice, potatoes, cabbage, and crayfish. Grape dumplings are the traditional dessert, and various pies and cakes are present. Beverages include sassafras tea among the Cherokees, parched corn mixed with water (buskie in Seminole), iced tea, coffee, and soft drinks.

John A. Milbauer


Mae Abbot, Oklahoma Indian Cookbook (Tulsa, Okla.: Acorn Printing Co., 1956)).

Jack D. Baker, comp., and Jack Gregory and Rennard Strickland, eds., Cherokee Cookbook (Fayetteville, Ark.: Indian Heritage Association, 1968).

Lulu Gibbons, Indian Recipes from Cherokee Indians of Eastern Oklahoma (Muskogee, Okla.: Hoffman Printing Co., n.d.).

Yeffe Kimball and Jean Anderson, The Art of American Indian Cooking (1965; reprint, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1986).

Wilma P. Mankiller, The Chief Cooks (Muskogee, Okla.: Hoffman Printing Co., Inc., 1988).

Carolyn J. Niethammer, American Indian Food and Lore (New York: Macmillan, 1974).

Mary Ulmer and Samuel Beck, eds., Cherokee Cooklore: Preparing Cherokee Foods (Cherokee, N.C.: Mary and Goingback Chiltoskey, 1951).

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The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
John A. Milbauer, “Wild Onion Dinners,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=WI009.

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