November is National Native American Heritage Month. It’s a time to celebrate the rich cultures, histories, and traditions of Minnesota’s Tribal Nations and acknowledge the important contributions Native people are making today.
This month we’re learning more about indigenous foods, and their connection between people and culture. Food connects us—to each other, our histories, and to the land we live on. Many Minnesotans know about wild rice, a native plant of Minnesota. It’s a project area that intersects with the work that Conservation Minnesota does through water quality and climate change, and it’s a sacred part of the culture and heritage of the Anishinaabe and Dakota people of the Great Lakes region.
But there is so much more to Indigenous cuisine beyond wild rice. Twin Cities businesses like the restaurant Owamni, the Indigenous Food Labs Market, and nonprofit Dream of Wild Health are just a few examples of how Native people are preserving and sharing Indigenous foodways today.
Owamni, voted the best new restaurant in the United States in 2022, is run by executive chef Sean Sherman and prioritizes indigenous foods and farmers while leaving out colonial ingredients such as wheat flour, cane sugar, and dairy. Sherman is a member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe and an educator, author, and activist. Sherman has won many accolades for being a fantastic restauranteur. His personal mission is “to revitalize Indigenous food systems and build awareness of the transformational potential of Indigenous foodways to restore the health, local economies, culture, and food sovereignty of Native people.”
Indigenous Food Lab in the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis is a project of NATIFS (North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems). It is a professional Indigenous kitchen and training center working to establish a new Indigenous food system that reintegrates Native Foods and Indigenous-focused education into tribal communities across North America.
Dream of Wild Health, a nonprofit with the mission “ to restore health and well-being in the Native community by recovering knowledge of and access to healthy Indigenous foods, medicines and lifeways.” From their 30-acre farm in Hugo, Minnesota, they provide an Indigenous Food Share program designed to provide fresh food to Indigenous families and sell additional items as the Four Sisters Farmers Market.
We encourage you to learn more about indigenous foods, what they are, and why they’re significant to Native tribes across North America.