Moving beyond land acknowledgement statements, Sioux Chef launches first restaurant, and more

In this blog:

  • Beyond land acknowledgement statements
  • Sioux Chef to launch Owamni restaurant (virtually)
  • Short video explains the Dakota language origins of Minnesota place names
  • CNN covers the Line 3 controversy

Beyond land acknowledgement statements

File: 2019 panel organized by the Native Governance Center to discuss land acknowledgement statements. The Center is working to move the conversation forward into action.

In 2019, the Native Governance Center released an on-line guide that talked about the importance of making land acknowledgement statements, and tips for making them.

The good news is the response was overwhelming. The Center received hundreds of inquiries, more than it expected, the Center said in a recent blog post.

The bad news is not all of the message sunk in. The guide said: “If you plan to reach out to an Indigenous person or community for help, compensate them fairly.” Yet most of the groups who reached out to the Center seeking help didn’t offer to compensate it for its time.

Further, outreach to the Center focused mostly on the land acknowledgement statement and didn’t go further, into the “all-important action steps for supporting Indigenous communities.”

To help organizations think about those next steps, the Center has launched a Beyond Land Acknowledgment series, and part of that is offering regular blog posts to get people thinking.

It’s created a self assessment tool, challenging people and organizations to think about such things as cultural appropriation and how their institutions have harmed — and continue to harm — Indigenous communities.

The Center’s latest blog “Voluntary Land Taxes.” “Voluntary land taxes function similarly to paying rent or a home mortgage. … Each month (or on a set time interval), land tax participants pay an amount that goes directly to Native nations and/or organizations in their area.”

Sioux Chef to launch Owamni restaurant (virtually)

This just in from the Minneapolis Parks Foundation:

With the imminent completion of the Water Works Pavilion and surrounding park at the Central Riverfront in Minneapolis, Owamni by The Sioux Chef will take center stage. It’s the first restaurant from Sean Sherman and Dana Thompson, co-owners of The Sioux Chef, who are at the forefront of an Indigenous food movement that’s restoring authentically local, healthy, and sustainable food practices which are rooted in Indigenous cultural traditions.

Sherman and Thompson will host a one-hour virtual event on Thursday, April 29, at 7 p.m. Register here.

They will:

  • Preview Owamni and its inter-relationship with planned educational and cultural experiences at the Water Works park and pavilion;
  • Talk about the restaurant’s role in The Sioux Chef’s broader Indigenous economic development efforts through a network of Indigenous partners and their nonprofit NATIFS (North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems);
  • Share the deeply significant relationship Dakota people have with Owamni (St. Anthony Falls in English) and the surrounding area, including Thompson’s grandfather’s role in preserving Dakota place names.

Short video explains the Dakota origins of Minnesota place names

I always look forward to reading the monthly newsletter for the Lower Phalen Creek Project. It always has interesting nuggets to share and interesting upcoming events.

This month, the newsletter explains that March “is Išta Wičháyazaŋ wí, Sore Eyes moon for it is the last moon of the Dakota year when the sun shines so brightly against the snow it can blind a person.”

It also provided a link to a new four-minute video where community members can learn more about the Dakota homelands we all reside on. It explains the Dakota place names, and how the English names chosen are very similar to the Dakota words.

Partners in the project included Marlena Myles, Mona Smith, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, Saint Paul Parks & Rec, the Minnesota Humanities Center, all of the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices.

There’s more great stuff in the e-newsletter. Sign up to learn more.

CNN covers the Line 3 controversy

CNN has offered the latest national coverage on efforts to stop the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. I particularly appreciated its powerful description of the Canadian tar sands mines.

A trip to the tar sands boggles the mind with its scale. Massive, man-made pits crawl with massive dump trucks, filled with what feels like sticky cookie dough and smells like asphalt.

Tens of thousands of tons are moved into massive processing plants each day where the goop is boiled and blasted with Athabasca River water heated with natural gas. To separate the flammable bitumen from the dirt and clay, it takes six gallons of fresh water to produce one gallon of tar sands gasoline and the lakes needed to hold the resulting toxic waste are among the biggest man-made creations in history.

The sheer amount of energy required to turn sticky earth into liquid fuel not only makes Alberta tar sand more expensive, it produces 15% more planet-cooking carbon pollution, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.


Check out the whole article.

News and Events: State Fair’s Indigenous Food Day; Appeals Court upholds ICWA, and more

In this blog:

  • Indigenous Food Day, featuring Sioux Chef Sean Sherman Sunday, Sept. 1 at the State Fair
  • Growth & Justice to host breakfast talk by MPCA Commission Laura Bishop Aug. 21 (hint: it’s an opportunity to ask about Line 3)
  • Native American Journalists Association rips Washington Post over Indian mascot commentary and survey
  • Appeals Courts reverses lower court, upholds constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act

Continue reading

A Growing Number of Indigenous Food Caterers: Consider Them for a 2018 Event

The Sioux Chef has gotten international attention for reclaiming precolonial indigenous foods as one key part of revitalizing Native American culture and bringing it to a broader audience. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board recently announced it would partner with The Sioux Chef to open a riverfront restaurant at the old Fuji Ya site in Downtown Minneapolis.

At the same time, there are several other local indigenous caterers emerging. Here are other options if you are looking for a caterer for an upcoming event. Continue reading

Indigenous Chefs Resist Media Efforts to Label Them a Trend

OK, I wasn’t going to post on Thanksgiving, but this Washington Post article seems appropriate. Headlined ‘This is not a trend’: Native American chefs resist the ‘Columbusing’ of indigenous foods, the story quotes Sean Sherman, the Sioux Chef.

The story says:

Native American chefs, whose foodways the culinary establishment has long neglected, have lately found themselves in high demand by a food media hungry to churn out trend pieces and by food-savvy urbanites eager to try cuisines they view as “exotic.” First it was Filipino food, then Hawaiian, then Jamaican. Now, recent coverage in food publications is calling Native American food the next big thing. And that’s precisely the problem.

“This is not a trend,” says Sherman. “It’s a way of life.”

Click on the link above if you want the full read.

The Sioux Chef to Open Riverfront Restaurant in Downtown Minneapolis, Partnering with the Park Board

The Sioux Chef will open a riverfront restaurant and food service venue offering precolonial indigenous foods at the planned public pavilion at Water Works, part of Mill Ruins Park in downtown Minneapolis. The new restaurant is a partnership with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Minneapolis Parks Foundation.

According to a Sept. 18 Park Board announcement:

The Sioux Chef is a diverse, Indigenous-led team committed to revitalizing Native American cuisine and reclaiming an important culinary tradition that has been long buried and often inaccessible. Water Works, a park development project overlooking St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge, will bring visitor services and recreational and cultural amenities to one of the Minnesota’s most highly visited areas.

The Water Works design includes a park pavilion embedded into the historic remnants of the Bassett and Columbia mills, and expands outdoor gathering spaces with a rooftop patio, outdoor seating plaza, tree-sheltered city steps, playspace for children and families, and an open lawn overlooking the river.

The pavilion will include the new restaurant as well as a public lounge, restrooms and support spaces; a flexible room for small group activities and a Park Board staff desk; and elevator to the rooftop. The restaurant will be the first year-round, full service food venue within the Minneapolis Park System, which is known for seasonal destinations such as Sea Salt. In addition to its full-service venue, The Sioux Chef will also provide casual, counter-service food options.

“Our work within the evolution of the Indigenous food systems offers many opportunities for supportive nutritional and spiritual experiences,” says Dana Thompson, co-owner of The Sioux Chef. “With the removal of colonial ingredients, our plan is to drive economic wealth back into indigenous communities by sourcing food from these growers first. We look forward to sharing and enjoying these diverse and healthy foods with all communities.”

Reflections on the Sacred and Recipes from the Sioux Chef

I have been reflecting on an article I read recently in the Washington Post headlined: Catholic nuns in Pa. build a chapel to block the path of a gas pipeline planned for their property.

It’s a story about Sister Linda Fisher, 74, and her fellow nuns who are trying to stop a natural gas pipeline from crossing their rural Pennsylvania property.

“This just goes totally against everything we believe in — we believe in sustenance of all creation,” she said.

Their solution? Dedicate an outdoor chapel on the pipeline right of way. Continue reading