In Minneapolis, an Indigenous chef puts Sioux cuisine front and center.
When first-time diners at Minneapolis’ Owamni by The Sioux Chef taste the dishes offered, the response is often swift and unexpected: Tears flow. The owners of the Indigenous restaurant say it isn’t uncommon to see patrons weeping at their dinner tables, overwhelmed by the experience. “They’re eating something that had an attempt to be systematically removed through genocide and forced assimilation. It’s an act of resistance that we exist,” co-owner Dana Thompson told The Chicago Tribune. Overlooking the Mississippi River, Owamni, which means “the place of the swirling waters,” is one of the rare brick and mortar establishments that spotlight the beauty and originality of Native American cuisine, “decolonized” from ingredients like wheat flour, dairy, and refined sugar that were once dispersed by the U.S. government to Indigenous people confined by the state to reservations. The seasonal menu highlights Native American heirloom variety products across the North American continent like teosinte, an ancient forbearer to corn, and favors ingredients like bison over beef. Diners have responded with an overwhelming show of support and emotion. Monthly reservation slots disappear in a matter of minutes. —Safiya Charles