Sean Sherman: Reweaving Sacred Relationship Through Food & Right Livelihood [Ep. 174]

If you only have two minutes, click here for a highlight from the interview.

Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota, born in Pine Ridge, SD, has been cooking across the US and World for the last 30 years.  His main culinary focus has been on the revitalization and awareness of indigenous foods systems in a modern culinary context.  Sean has studied on his own extensively to determine the foundations of these food systems which include the knowledge of Native American farming techniques, wild food usage and harvesting, land stewardship, salt and sugar making, hunting and fishing, food preservation, Native American migrational histories, elemental cooking techniques, and Native culture and history in general to gain a full understanding of bringing back a sense of Native American cuisine to today’s world.

In 2014, he opened the business titled The Sioux Chef as a caterer and food educator to the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area.  In 2015 in partnership with the Little Earth Community of United Tribes in Minneapolis, he also helped to design and open the Tatanka Truck food truck, which featured pre-contact foods of the Dakota and Minnesota territories.  Chef Sean and his vision of modern indigenous foods have been featured in numerous articles and radio shows, along with dinners at the James Beard House in Manhattan and Milan, along with teaching and sharing his knowledge to gatherings and crowds at Yale, the Culinary Institute of America, the United Nations, and many more.

Sean has been the recipient of a 2015 First Peoples Fund Fellowship, 2018 Bush Foundation Fellowship, National Center’s 2018 First American Entrepreneurship Award, 2018 James Beard Award for Best American Cookbook, and a 2019 James Beard Leadership Award.

Sean’s latest endeavor, NāTIFS (North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems), is dedicated to addressing the economic and health crises affecting Native communities by re-establishing Native foodways. With a vision for a new North American food system that generates wealth and improves health in Native communities through food-related enterprises, NāTIFS is establishing an Indigenous Food Lab in Minneapolis that will house an indigenous restaurant and training center covering all aspects of food service; research and development; indigenous food identification, gathering, cultivation, and preparation; and all components of starting and running a successful culinary business based around Native traditions and indigenous foods – with plans to replicate this model bioregionally throughout North America.

Reclamation of ancestral education is a critical part of reversing the damage of colonialism and forced assimilation, and food is at the heart of this reclamation. NāTIFS will drive sustainable economic empowerment and prosperity into tribal areas through a reimagined North American food system that also addresses the health impacts of injustice.


Interview Highlights:

  • Sean shares what’s alive in his heart and mind after this year’s celebration of Indigenous People’s Day

  • A window into Sean’s background and the genesis of The Sioux Chef, The Tatanka Truck, and NāTIFS

  • Stories from traveling across the world sharing North American Indigenous cuisine

  • The grand vision of NāTIFS as regenerating indigenous people from the impacts of genocide, and cultural erasure, and reclaiming indigenous wisdom


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LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.


Andrew Baskin, Partner & Executive Producer at LIFT Economy, specializes in regenerative ag-related enterprise and impact investing that advances the health of our soil, food-system, and climate.  You can email Andrew at