Sean Sherman’s (The Sioux Chef) 10 Essential Native American Recipes - Native American Heritage Month


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Via:  kavika  •  8 months ago  •  39 comments

Sean Sherman’s (The Sioux Chef) 10 Essential Native American Recipes - Native American Heritage Month

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

Growing up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the 1970s, I ran wild with my cousins through my grandparents’ cattle ranch, over the hot, sandy   South Dakota   land   of burrs and paddle cactus, hiding in the sparse grasses and rolling hills. We raced over the open plains, and through shelter belts of tall elm trees, the air full of dust and sagebrush. Our dogs chased prairie dogs, pheasants, grouse and antelope, and alerted us to rattlesnakes and jack rabbits.

In late summer, we’d harvest chokecherries and timpsula, a wild prairie turnip, and pick juniper berries off the prickly trees. We camped in the Badlands, sleeping under the stars, and gathered in our family’s rustic log cabin deep in the Black Hills.

Back then, there were no restaurants on Pine Ridge, just one grocery store and a couple of gas stations dotting the immense reservation. Our kitchen cupboards were stocked with government commodity food staples — canned fruit, canned meat, powdered milk, bricks of yellow government-issued cheese, and dry cereals and oats packaged in white cardboard boxes with black block lettering.

Luckily, we also had the birds we hunted, beef from the ranch and eggs from the chickens my grandmother raised. As members of the   Oglala Lakota Oyate,   part of the Great Sioux Nation, we took part in many celebrations and gatherings like powwows, sun dances, birthdays, weddings, naming ceremonies and cattle brandings, and our moms, aunts and female cousins cooked up contemporary and traditional dishes, like taniga, the Lakota intestine soup with timpsula. The sweet aroma of simmering wojape, the Lakota chokecherry dish, time-warps me back to my 6-year-old self.

I often think of my   great-grandfather, who was born in the late 1850s and grew up like any other Lakota boy, riding horses bareback to hunt with a bow and arrow.   At the age of 18, he   witnessed   the Lakota and Cheyenne victory against the United States government at the   Battle of the Little Bighorn; he also encountered the aftermath of the Wounded Knee massacre,   where   hundreds of   Lakota men, women and children   were viciously slaughtered.

Later, his children were forced into boarding schools, forbidden to speak their Native language, required to learn English and to become Christians. Through   the   20th century, these harsh efforts at assimilation began to erase thousands of generations of Indigenous traditions, wisdom and ceremonies.

As soon as I was 13 and legally eligible to work, I got my first job, at a steakhouse in Spearfish, S.D. I knew a little about cooking: As the   oldest child   of a busy working mom, I was often the one who got dinner on the table for my sister and me. I swept floors, bussed tables, washed dishes, prepped food and eventually became a line cook. In college, I picked up work with the United States   Forest Service as a field surveyor, identifying plants and trees in the northern Black Hills, and learning their medicinal and culinary properties.

Through my career as a professional chef, opening restaurants and cafes in Minneapolis, I gained experience cooking Italian, Spanish and other European cuisines. But it wasn’t until I spent time in Mexico, observing how closely Indigenous people live to their culinary traditions, that I realized I had very little idea of what my own ancestors ate before colonization.

So I began to research the history of our land before the Europeans arrived. How did my Indigenous ancestors grow, hunt, fish and then preserve and store their food? Who did they trade with, and where did they obtain their salts, fats and sugars? I met with community elders and connected with Native chefs, historians and academics, such as the ethnobotanist Nancy J. Turner, and the Lakota author Joseph Marshall III, while also discovering   rare historical accounts   like   “Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden,”   the memories of a 19th-century Hidatsa farmer who lived in what is now North Dakota.


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1  seeder  Kavika     8 months ago

Manoomin (wild rice) is a fixture in our home as a child and still is today. 

 Atikamiig agiji manoomin. (Lake Superior whitefish on wild rice) one of my favorites. 

1.1  1stwarrior  replied to  Kavika @1    8 months ago

I mix wild rice and brown rice when I want a "snack" - add a bit of honey and some mushrooms.  Meal to die for.

1.1.1  Enoch  replied to  1stwarrior @1.1    8 months ago

Dear Friend 1st Warrior: Sounds good to me. 

Likes the honey and mushroom touch.

Wonders how adding just mushrooms, pitted cured olives and artichoke hearts to the wild and brown rice mix, then melting pure fresh creamy butter would work.

Have to try both.

Will get back to you.



1.1.2  seeder  Kavika   replied to  1stwarrior @1.1    8 months ago

Manoomin with maple sugar and cranberries is excellent. Try it for breakfast.

1.2  Enoch  replied to  Kavika @1    8 months ago

Dear Brother Kavika: Sounds good to me.

Bring it all on.



Paula Bartholomew
1.3  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Kavika @1    8 months ago

It sounds delicious.

1.4  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1    8 months ago

cool story. I spent similar childhood summers with my cousins on my grandfathers cattle ranch in Colorado in the 60's. we were having too much fun to realize how poor we were, but we ate very well from what the ranch produced and what my mom and my aunts made from scratch every day (I was almost a teenager before I had ever eaten store bought bread) to feed the family and the ranch hands. wild strawberries and goose berries were our candy. our pocket knives, bb guns, and homemade fishing poles were our toys and also supplemented daily dinners with rabbits and brook trout.

my grandfather hired ranch hands off skid row in Denver for the summer every year. the best ranch hand grandad ever hired was a NA. he was huge man, whose unique NA name escapes me after 60 years, that worked tirelessly from before dawn to the dinner bell every day. at every meal he would pile his plate high with some of everything on the table, mix it all up, and devour it with a fork in one hand and bread in the other. my cousins and I idolized him, as did the kitchen crew, (my step-grandma, my mom and my aunts, who soon insisted that he sit at the family table) and we sometimes followed and pestered him endlessly throughout the day with childlike inquisitiveness. in hindsight, he was extremely patient with us. we were constantly being told by the elders to leave him alone.

because he worked so hard and was so popular among the grandkids, my grandad kept him the year round for years. he wasn't like the other hands that would usually disappear after the first pay day. he never left the ranch and would fish on his one day off a week. naturally he would be accompanied by a half dozen close friends, me and my cousins, every time. he taught us all how to fish for brookies, the indian way as he called it, and our catches increased tremendously. we repaid him by making sure that whenever we went fishing when he had to work, that a plate of brookies fried in cornmeal was his to choose from first. we were in ecstasy when he would praise our catches. as I found out later in my life, his prowess as a hunter was not lost on the older males in my family during elk and deer season, although for some reason they always forgot to mention it.

then one summer after school had let out in my early teens, we all went to spend the summer at the ranch again and he was gone. he had saved enough money to go home in the old beater ranch truck grandad had given him. we were all heart broken our friend was gone and our summer wasn't as fun. he was a legendary unofficial member of our family and is still fondly remembered 6 decades later by my cousins and me as a childhood mentor and hero.  

sorry for the derail, but it evoked a very positive memory from my youth.

1.4.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @1.4    8 months ago

What a great story devangelical...Great memories of a man from a different world than yours. Yet all of you taught each other. 

Chi miigetch (many thanks) for the story. 

1.4.2  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1.4.1    8 months ago

I don't know if he learned anything from us. I still fish for brookies the way he taught us. I'll be thinking today about all the cool things he did that left us completely awe-stricken. thanks 

1.4.3  seeder  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @1.4.2    8 months ago

He taught you the ways of Indians and you accepted them.  I'm sure that he took something from that my friend.

1.4.4  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1.4.3    8 months ago

in retrospect, to us he was bigger than life. our very own super hero. quiet, humble, a teacher and never a cross word, but he could put away the groceries and work like he was 3 men. the women in my family fawned over him at dinner because of his implied gratitude for their cooking. in a family of notorious picky eaters, he ate everything put in front of him. they competed with desserts and he was always served first with a portion equal to his appetite. the other transient ranch hands (cowboys) hated him and were jealous for the attention. he had his own ranch shack that we were forbidden by our parents to go near, while they slept in the bunk house. he pushed the cattle out to pasture every morning by himself, (riding bareback!!!) while the cowboys saddled up. aunt bessie, what we called our step-grandma, always packed a big lunch bucket (empty lard pail) and placed it next to him every day at breakfast, so he wouldn't have to ride all the way back in for lunch.

I'm sure he has walked on by now and there's nobody left living on our side that knew anything more about him. he shattered every preconceived stereotype imposed upon us by others from the older generations. he garnered special privileges from my grandad who never had a kind word for anyone, but we heard more than once how "he wished all his ranch hands were indians". always the first to get to work and the last one to finish, and always cleaned up for dinner, unlike everyone else. although I have a dozen amazing stories about him, I'm ashamed I can't remember his name because he was such a huge influence on our young lives. after his first year on the ranch we never played cowboys and indians again. nobody ever wanted to be the cowboy. he was a master of two different worlds in our eyes. we all chose his as the best one.

1.4.5  seeder  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @1.4.4    8 months ago
after his first year on the ranch we never played cowboys and indians again. nobody ever wanted to be the cowboy. he was a master of two different worlds in our eyes. we all chose his as the best one.

Well said and with deep understanding of what is right and wrong. I know in my mind that he surely knew that you stopped playing and it meant much to him. 

No need to be ashamed that you can't remember his name. You remember everything about him and I imagine can close your eyes and see him clearly. That's what matters. 

1.4.6  1stwarrior  replied to  devangelical @1.4.4    8 months ago

What an opportunity.  You learned and you taught and you've enriched the lives of others.


1.4.7  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1.4.5    8 months ago

I can see him clearly. he was very tall and reddish bronze with rugged facial features. his chest and arms were massive. he had longer than usual at the time black hair, years before the beatles were ever on TV. we were all scared to death of him for the first week. the male adults remained scared.

1.4.8  seeder  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @1.4.7    8 months ago

The more that you speak of him it reminds me of my uncle. His name was Frank Big Man. LOL and he was a fairly big man. Around 6'1'' and maybe 200 or 210 but it was all muscle. Same reddish-bronze skin and rugged features. He worked on the bull gang in the Mesabi Iron Range in northern MN. The bull gang was responsible for moving railroad tracks in the mines. A six foot crowbar and he could pop a railroad spike out of the tie and make it jump up a foot in the air using only one hand/arm...It was a game with the guys on the bull gang..

Thanks for bringing back that memory for me. 

1.4.9  devangelical  replied to  1stwarrior @1.4.6    8 months ago

I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. the most popular person at the dinner table to us kids did everything else. we probably annoyed him beyond comprehension since he was such a loner the rest of the day. the thrill of learning to catch fish from a brook you could step across with a tiny hook attached to a short piece of fishing line tied to a long aspen stick and baited with a worm you just dug out of the ground by hand and then slowly crawling towards a deep bend to drop the hook into it without being seen or felt by the fish is a debt that can never be repaid. seeing the looks on the faces of the great white hunters that had earlier scoffed at the ability of a NA to whistle a bull elk down from the trees into the pasture on the morning hunting season opened, priceless. he knew how to bring deer in too. the man was simply amazing.

1.4.10  devangelical  replied to  Kavika @1.4.8    8 months ago

I would never have believed such a person existed if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. our guy threw hay bales around like they were empty boxes. he had to ride the tallest horse on the ranch. everyone in the family had stories about his super human feats of strength and abilities. I'm thanking you for triggering the childhood memories of my guy. I've spent the entire afternoon remembering him.

1.4.11  seeder  Kavika   replied to  devangelical @1.4.10    8 months ago
I've spent the entire afternoon remembering him.

Excellent, memories are what makes life entertaining. 

1.5  Dulay  replied to  Kavika @1    8 months ago

Here is an open source link to “Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden”. It's an awesome read!

1.5.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Dulay @1.5    8 months ago

Excellent, thanks Dulay.

1.5.2  Dulay  replied to  Kavika @1.5.1    8 months ago

She gives great information on Native planting, harvesting and storage practices.  

There are recipes in there too.

One is for sunflower seed 'energy' balls that she says were carried by warriors. 

1.5.3  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Dulay @1.5.2    8 months ago

I'll definitely be reading it soon. 

I have a great cookbook entitled, ''Original Local''....dishes from the upper midwest tribes, Ojibwe etc. It's by Heide Erdrich the sister of Louise Erdrich the author. 

You'd enjoy it. 

1.5.4  Dulay  replied to  Kavika @1.5.3    8 months ago

Have you been sharing the recipes in that group? 

1.5.5  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Dulay @1.5.4    8 months ago

I posted one or two. 

Trout Giggles
2  Trout Giggles    8 months ago

I've tried choke cherry jelly. Not crazy about it at all.

I'm sure the NA used wild honey as a sweetener but did they use anything else as a sugar? And where did they find their salt?

2.1  Dulay  replied to  Trout Giggles @2    8 months ago

There is evidence that the Potawatomi made Maple syrup.  

2.1.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Dulay @2.1    8 months ago

The Ojibwe are famous for their maple syrup. We still tap the maple trees in MN for it. You can buy it online, it's great. 

The Potawatomi did as well since they are part of the Three Fire Nations and closely related to the Ojibwe and Odawa (Ottowa).

2.2  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Trout Giggles @2    8 months ago

Indians were not great sweet eaters. Maple sugar was the most common sweetener along with various wild berries and fruit both dried and fresh. 

The salt came from springs/rivers throughout the US...There is plenty available. 

Here is an interesting link showing the salt in the Sierra's at Mono Lake which has been around over 700,000 years.

Trout Giggles
2.2.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Kavika @2.2    8 months ago
Indians were not great sweet eaters.

I didn't need to have my DNA tested to show I have no NA blood...I adore sweets!

Perrie Halpern R.A.
3  Perrie Halpern R.A.    8 months ago

Sounds very yummy. It takes a great chef to make something tasty out of a limited pantry. 

al Jizzerror
5  al Jizzerror    8 months ago

Does Sean Sherman currently have a  restaurant?

Do you have restaurant, Kavika? 

When I left college, I was a dough thrower (pizza) for about a year.


Now I only cook pizza at home on my Traeger Smoker Grill (burns various wood pellets - mesquite is the best).

The kids in my family love watching me throw the dough and all kids love pizza.

5.1  seeder  Kavika   replied to  al Jizzerror @5    8 months ago
Does Sean Sherman currently have a  restaurant?

He is opening one in the new Water Works Park over looking St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis. Should open any day now. 

Do you have restaurant, Kavika? 

No, I'm an eater not a chef...LOL

and all kids love pizza.

Then I'm a kid cuz I love pizza...In fact Nona (an NT member) and I invented, ''Frizza'' yup, it's a cross between Ojibwe fry bread and Italian pizza...LOL

Trout Giggles
5.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Kavika @5.1    8 months ago
cross between Ojibwe fry bread and Italian pizza...LOL


5.1.2  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Trout Giggles @5.1.1    8 months ago

The recipe is TOP SECRET, Trout....It's served at Jay's Diner and Chief Chef Boiling Water Goldstein guards the recipe with his life, or the life of some of the workers. He's no fool.

There is another recipe that was invented by Enoch and me. It's the Kosher Winnebagel. 

Served at diner dumps throughout the US and Canada. 

al Jizzerror
5.1.3  al Jizzerror  replied to  Kavika @5.1.2    8 months ago
The recipe is TOP SECRET

Trump will probably give it to Putin.


Trout Giggles
5.1.4  Trout Giggles  replied to  Kavika @5.1.2    8 months ago

I can usually figure out "top secret" recipes. All I need is an entire pizza

5.1.5  seeder  Kavika   replied to  Trout Giggles @5.1.4    8 months ago


al Jizzerror
5.1.6  al Jizzerror  replied to  Kavika @5.1.5    8 months ago


Are you the "pizza Nazi"?

5.1.7  seeder  Kavika   replied to  al Jizzerror @5.1.6    8 months ago

I was looking for that meme that said, ''no pizza for you'' all they had was ''no soup for you''...LOL


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