This article appeared in the July 06, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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A Native American chef, and the power of sharing culture

Amy Forliti/AP/File
Sean Sherman posed in front of his food truck in Minneapolis in 2016. Mr. Sherman, an Oglala Lakota chef, works to bring Native American cuisine to more tables. He and a partner are now launching an “Indigenous food lab” focused on sharing cultural knowledge of simpler, healthier foods.
Clayton Collins
Director, editorial innovation

Native American peoples tend to sit out celebrations of one kind of American independence.

Over the holiday weekend, their own stories became more central.

In one case they were pushed aside. But Lakota Sioux protesters, standing on unceded territory, first delayed a major Saturday event at Mount Rushmore in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota.

In another they were aided. A District of Columbia sports franchise agreed to a “thorough review” of an offensive name. Native American leaders first met with team officials to urge change in 1972. Pressure from corporations like stadium-sponsor FedEx helped make change imminent. 

An insidious false narrative about Native Americans has long persisted: that they sit passively at the receiving end of a dominant culture’s actions. But the weekend’s developments, and other, quieter stories, highlight something else: the power of hope – and of agency, and inclusion. 

There’s their dual fight against COVID-19 and wildfire in the U.S. Northwest. And then there is the very personal.

Sean Sherman is an Oglala Lakota chef in Minneapolis. He sees reconnection to culture, through food, as an antidote to historical oppression. 

He and a partner are launching an “Indigenous food lab.” Its work will run from pre-colonial food prep to ethnobotany. Its mission: a culinary revolution meant to inspire and nourish. To strengthen, and not to exclude. 

“There’s this huge knowledge base that we should be tapping into,” Mr. Sherman told Modern Farmer, “to make a better world for everyone.”

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This article appeared in the July 06, 2020 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 07/06 edition
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