The Sioux Chef: Tastemade

Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: The Lakota Food Summit gives hope

Native Sun News Today Columnist

Our tribes, like many others in America, have been the children of dictatorship and have for two hundred years been taught that TRIBALISM is the enemy of well-being. Our fellow writers talk of the hopelessness of it all even suggesting that the enforced assimilation of those ideas of western opinions have somehow worked. In despair we look around at the chaos, the injustice.

Then, what may be called The Lakota Spring happens right here in our city and it is called The Lakota Food Summit and we begin to know that for the last half century and before, we have been the children of revolution, not dictatorship. 

Our languages, while endangered, are still spoken, learned, revived. Our lands are still occupied by its original owners and governed by survival tribalism which says our demand that we be allowed to be ourselves isn’t a crime. Our survival in our own environment is not the cause for turmoil as the white occupiers have told us.

For three days in this cold February month,  a communal presentation called The Lakota Food Summit drew hundreds of us together in a local hotel to talk of how to eat, how to cook, how to pay attention to the environment of The Northern Plains, how to engage in plantings and harvesting of foods that sustained our ancestors for centuries. Such a presentation is a kind of Revolution of Tribal Intellectualism.

A young Indian chef from the Pine Ridge Reservation, Sean Sherman, started the February event with a rather thorough introduction to the history of how much of the Siouan knowledge of the culinary and food past has been lost. Sherman is based now in Minnesota and has a restaurant of native culinary arts and skills from which he writes books, lectures and teaches on indigenous food knowledge.

He introduced to our community a cadre of young native food scholars who carry his ideas of recall and sustainability that has re-created the past, and they served up their dishes as samples of how to eat and cook indigenous foods.  

He tells us we are the first-born and rightful sons and daughters of this land from which we and our ancestors have learned survival.  It was a repackaging of how food can bring stability to our lives.   Or not. 


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