Get to know Native American Minneapolis

Winning James Beard’s Best New Restaurant in the Nation in 2022, Owamni of the Sioux Chef has brought Native American cuisine to the forefront of fine dining in the eyes of foodies. Once you’ve secured that prized reservation at this Mississippi Riverside hotspot, you’ll want to round out your experience with a little more of Minneapolis’ native and indigenous community offerings.

WaterWorks Pavilion.

To eat

Owamni of The Sioux Chef serves decolonized dishes, where all dairy, wheat, refined sugar, beef, chicken and pork have been removed from the menu. They serve dishes with plants, game and fish, mainly from the surrounding area, and other North American native ingredients and methods. Built in the ruins of the grist mills that once occupied the site, the space was also sacred ground to the Dakota and Anishinaabe people for at least thousands of years.

Chef Sean Sherman (Oglala Lakota) and co-owner Dana Thompson (descendants of the Wahpeton-Sisseton and Mdewakanton Dakota tribes) hired a mostly Native American staff. They start the service each day with a clever ceremony and play native music to set the tone. And diners experience the award-winning food alongside the natural beauty and industrial past of the Mississippi Riverfront in the window-lined room or seasonal patio.

Photo of the recently completed water works pavilion and the surrounding area.

The owners of Owamni also oversee their non-profit North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NATIFS), where they strive to educate and train others in indigenous food and restaurant ownership/management, to address “the economic and health crises that indigenous society faces.” by restoring indigenous foods.” Their Indigenous Food Lab, a professional Indigenous kitchen and education center, is located in Midtown Global Market.

In addition to Owamni, here are other places to try Native American food and drink in the Minneapolis area:

Indigenous Food Lab Market will open in December 2022, also at Midtown Global Market. Designed by the owners of Owamni/NATIFS, this new market showcases local and national native food producers, artisans and more and also hosts educational events and local chefs

Four Sisters Farmers Market is a Native Farmers Market focused on providing greater access to affordable, healthy, culturally appropriate local foods within the American Indian Cultural Corridor along Franklin Avenue, operating weekly seasonally (closed in winter)

Makwa Coffee will open in the summer of 2022 in Roseville, just north of Minneapolis. Gatherings Café (by chef Brian Yazzie) at the Minneapolis American Indian Center reopens after a 2024 renovation of the building; until then they will concentrate on feeding the elderly.

Store

Located near Lake of the Isles, Birchbark Books is owned by renowned Minnesota author Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa), winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (The Night Watchman) and several other awards

Northland Visions is a gallery and retail space that sells original items made by indigenous people from the Woodland and Plains tribes of the upper Midwest in what is now Minnesota, the Dakotas, Wisconsin and other northern states, as well as Canada’s Native Roots Trading Post at Dayton’s Project Winter The Maker’s Market in downtown Minneapolis opens November 17 through January 13, 2023.

Museums and art

Minnesota History Center – Our Home, Native Minnesota This exhibit includes stories of survival, resilience and adaptation of Minnesota’s Native communities. Historic Fort Snelling shares stories of the Native Americans who lived in this region from its location at the Bdote, “where the Mississippi and Minnesota came together,” a sacred place for the Dakota people and other nations for thousands of years

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden – Okciyapi (Help Each Other) by Angela Two Stars, is at once a sculptural form, a gathering space, and a participatory work that offers visitors a place to engage with the Dakota language. The Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Native American collection includes many items displayed in the galleries of this free museum. Makwa Studio is a creative space with a focus on textiles, art and fashion. The Dakota Spirit Walk is an augmented reality art installation by Marlena Myles, located nearby in St. Paul

The Sacred Hoop Walk at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is an augmented reality art exhibit created by digital artist Marlena Myles, a member of the Spirit Lake Dakota Tribe. Visitors can use an app on their cell phone to view digital images and audio at stops along the tour to learn more about Dakota culture and history.

Arts@MSP has an all-digital art gallery in the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport featuring Minnesota Ojibwe artist Jonathan Thunder and his Manifest’o exhibit, located in the terminal concourse of Concourse B
Attractions.

Water Works Park (Owamni’s location is in the pavilion) has Dakota names for native plants and other recognitions of this sacred site for the Dakota people in St. Anthony Falls. Mystic Lake – Minnesota’s largest casino, with a hotel and entertainment complex, is owned by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux community. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Wacipi (Pow Wow) is held annually in August. The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Hoċokata Ti Cultural Center is a cultural venue with a public exhibit

For even more information, here are ways to celebrate Native American Heritage Month in Minneapolis.

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