Alabama Water Institute Hosts Archaeologist at Choctaw Cultural Center

Earth Oven Cooking Demonstrated on Cultural Center Grounds

Published June 14, 2023

DURANT, Okla. – For thousands of years before all-electric stoves were common in American kitchens, early Choctaws prepared food in clay-lined fire pits. The Choctaw Cultural Center recently offered a demonstration of this ancient technique in a class of Traditional Earth Oven Cooking for the public. Mike Fedoroff, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Alabama specializing in southeastern archaeology, facilitated the event. His attendance came courtesy of the Alabama Water Institute (AWI), Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where Fedoroff serves as director of Cultural and Water Resources Preservation for AWI.

Fedoroff’s class earlier this year was an all-day activity drawing more than 25 participants. An outdoor session on the grounds of the cultural center’s Living Village included construction of two earth-oven firepits. As the coals turned red and gray from their heat, traditional Native food of rabbit, deer, squash and more were wrapped in large leaves, then placed in the pits and covered with the embers. While the food cooked in this ancient manner, Fedoroff presented an indoor session with a slide show and lecture for attendees. He also conducted a training with cultural center staff. Members of the media were on hand to interview Fedoroff, which had airings in the southeast Oklahoma/north Texas region and later were placed on websites.

Fedoroff is no stranger to students of Choctaw culture in southeast Oklahoma having assisted with Choctaw Historic Preservation for the past decade. Also, last summer at the Choctaw Labor Day Festival he staged a popular earth oven cooking demonstration in the Living Village at the Tvshka Homma Capitol Grounds that was viewed by hundreds.

Learn more about earth oven cooking.

As with many classes, cost to attend the Traditional Earth Oven Cooking Demonstration was included with regular admission to the Choctaw Cultural Center, 1919 Hina Hanta Way, Calera. For information about future activities, phone the center at 580-634-0673 or visit


Earth Oven Cooking

Photo by Charles Clark, Choctaw Nation

Mike Fedoroff, Ph.D.

Photo by Charles Clark, Choctaw Nation

The Choctaw Cultural Center recently presented a demonstration of Traditional Earth Oven Cooking led by Mike Fedoroff and hosted by the Alabama Water Institute (AWI), Tuscaloosa, Alabama.