STILWELL – Every year, when it starts to warm up, you can find Cherokee Nation citizen Beau Sanders wading through local creeks and streams on the hunt for one of his favorite traditional foods, the crawdad.
Like many other Cherokees, the tradition of hunting crawdads was passed down to Sanders from his family.
“My granny and grandpas, even my dad, they showed me how to hunt them,” he said. “We used crawdad gigs. My dad made them out of cane poles and a piece of clothes-hanger wire. To make the forks, He’d connect it to the end of the cane pole.”
Sanders prefers to go out hunting at night armed with only his gig and a flashlight.
“They come out more at night because they’re looking for food as well, so they’re more out at night than they are during the day, and it’s easier to catch them. During the day, they tend to hide more and you have to flip over rocks and look under things to try and find them.”
He added he enjoys the time spent out hunting and uses it as a time to reflect on a “simpler way of life.” He also enjoys passing along his knowledge to his family and friends and is willing to take anyone who is eager to learn the tradition.
“One way of cooking them is the way the Cajun’s do and that’s boiling them,” he said. “But I rather prefer frying them in cornmeal and seasoning. Our ancestors and elders have done it for a long time, and it’s nice that it has been dropped down to each and every one of us. It still keeps going, and we need to keep things like this alive.”
He not only hunts crawdads for just his family, but he also hunts them for numerous elders in the community who aren’t able to get out and hunt them for themselves.
“I like to treat people right. God gave us a lot of this food on this earth to take what you need plus give back,” Sanders said.
Multimedia Specialist Josh Fourkiller currently lives in Tahlequah, Oklahoma but calls Stilwell his hometown. He began working at the Cherokee Phoenix in February of 2020. Born and raised in Oklahoma, Josh always knew he wanted to work for the Cherokee p ...