Minnesota Monthly: “Sioux Chef” Challenges Definition of Local Food with Indigenous Restaurants

By Anne Kopas
Minnesota Monthly (blog)

The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen (Sean Sherman)When we picture Minnesotan heritage, many of us tend to think of the European influences, such as Scandinavian and German immigrants, lutefisk, and Lutheranism. Go just a little further back, though, and you’ll find our original traditions: those of the indigenous people who came before.

This is the heritage that chef Sean Sherman is reviving through a language we all understand—food. With a nonprofit, a cookbook, and two upcoming restaurants, Sherman is challenging our definition of “local” food by bringing indigenous cooking back to Minnesota.

Born on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, home of the Oglala Lakota tribe, Sherman started cooking as young as 13. When it came to learning about his own culinary heritage, though, it became clear to him that he’d have to teach himself. “I couldn’t just go online and order The Joy of Native American Cooking,” he jokes, imagining an indigenous spin on the classic Joy of Cooking, considered a staple on chefs’ bookshelves. This gap inspired him, and, after moving to Minneapolis at 23, he co-founded The Sioux Chef, a local catering business, with business partner Dana Thompson in 2014, preparing indigenous cuisine for events as well as educating people about American Indian cooking through demonstrations. (Sherman recently sold his food truck—the Tatanka Truck, tatanka meaning “bison” in the Lakota and Dakota languages—to focus on education through a new nonprofit.)

Keep reading.

University of Minnesota Press Podcast

More than two dozen essays of Indigenous resistance to the privatization and allotment of Indigenous lands

Allotment Stories: Daniel Heath Justice and Jean M. O'Brien.

A fascinating and unprecedented ethnography of animal sanctuaries in the United States

Saving AnimalsElan Abrell and Kathryn (Katie) Gillespie on sanctuary, care, ethics.

How popular debates about the so-called digital generation mediate anxieties about labor and life in twenty-first-century America

Making creative laborers for a precarious economy: Josef Nguyen, Carly Kocurek, and Patrick LeMieux.

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