Kim Campbell, owner of the Port Gamble General Store & Café and local North Kitsap resident, went to the Standing Rock (DPL) Protest from November 27th through December 5th, 2016. Campbell set out on this journey with her father (who is from South Dakota) after feeling compelled to help the camps in any way. She may have come back to North Kitsap with more than she thought was possible from the experience.
Photo Credit: Rudi Bega of Mount Shasta, CA
“We have to empower ourselves before any healing is possible. I just wanted to be there and help in any way that was needed. I was willing to haul wood or do whatever was needed at the time.” She ended up finding her way to the camp’s central kitchen with her father. After one day, the “keys” to the kitchen were handed over to Campbell and her father. The person in charge of the central kitchen had to leave the camp due to a personal emergency. “I guess they saw that we knew how to run a kitchen, could cook for vegetarians and vegans, and we were off and running” Campbell added. The central kitchen was responsible for providing three meals a day for 300-500 people per meal. They focused on preparing food that was quick, easy, and warm. Some of the common foods were soups, stews, and fry bread. There were tents stocked with produce, one stocked with canned goods, and a refrigerated truck for meats and produce.
“I was there the week that U.S. Veterans came to the protest. One of the Veterans showed up in a truck with 1,000’s of pounds of winter squash and sweet potatoes. A lot of people didn’t know what to do with the some of the squash that was donated, but we were able to incorporate it into the kitchen so it could be used” mentioned Campbell. One of the most popular dishes Campbell served was ginger squash soup.
There were many challenges cooking in the camp other than in climate weather. Some of the main challenges that Campbell faced were scarcity in some supplies like water, propane, wood, and sharp knives. “I’m glad I brought a couple of my own knives since all knives in the kitchen were dulled.”
I asked Campbell what she thought was the most unique ingredient used during her time in the central kitchen. “We got into the refrigerated truck and found a lot of meat that needed to be butchered before use. I had to ask a few people if they knew how to butcher this meat.” The meat turned out to be 4 whole alpacas which took four people a total of 10 hours to break down for cooking preparations. They mostly used a 15’ foot smoker to cook the alpaca and served dishes like “alpaca and eggs” for breakfast. They were also able to make a lot of stewed soups and tenderloins.
Campbell, who is Mdewakanton Dakota on her father's side, met cousins for the first time in the kitchen and was able to teach them, as well as many others, the basics of cooking and how to best use ingredients. “Not everyone in the kitchen knew their way around. There were lawyers, architects, and doctors helping out in the kitchen.”
Teaching and sharing her love of cooking may be one of the biggest rewards Campbell brought back with her after this experience. She also came back with a newfound confidence as a chef and new ways to approach food. Perhaps the most compelling and rewarding experience was finding hope in the next generation of Americans and the sense of community, dedication, and focus they brought to the camps. After all, they were all there by their choice.
Port Gamble General Store & Cafe owners Kim Campbell and Erik Kleiva
The Port Gamble General Store & Café is launching a new menu this year that is sure to excite the North Kitsap community. They’ve also announced Winter Hours for the restaurant.
The new hours are: