Owámni kiŋ Dakóta Wóhe Wičhášta de káǧe. Ikčéya wóhe wičhášta Sean Sherman k’a ikčéya wóhe wíŋyaŋ Dana Thompson waŋná ečháda owóte thípi kiŋ yuíŋyaŋkapi.
The words are an introduction to the Owamni restaurant, writtten in the Dakota language.
Dakota and Lakota are Siouan languages of the Great Plains. They are so closely related that most linguists consider them dialects of the same language, similar to the difference between British and American English. There are some differences in pronunciation, but they are very regular, and Dakota and Lakota Indians can almost always understand each other. The Nakota languages–Stoney and Assiniboine–are also closely related languages but a Dakota or Lakota Sioux speaker cannot easily understand them without language lessons, similar to the difference between Spanish and Portuguese. There are a combined 26,000 speakers of Lakota and Dakota Sioux in the western United States and southern Canada, especially in their namesake states of North and South Dakota.
Owamni is a full service Indigenous restaurant in downtown Minneapolis, and I’m tremendously annoyed with myself for not knowing about it when we visited the city last August.
We prioritize purchasing ingredients from Indigenous producers first, along with featuring many wild flavors that make up our Indigenous pantry. We believe there should be Indigenous restaurants in every region and city featuring the true flavors of North America and celebrating our amazing and diverse Indigenous cultures through food, music, and story. We have cut out colonial ingredients including wheat, dairy, cane sugar, pork and chicken, so our offerings are naturally gluten free, dairy free, cane sugar free, soy free and pork free! Come dine with us and experience true North American cuisine.
The word has gotten out.
The Sioux Chef’s Owamni restaurant wows critics – and decolonizes cuisine, by Isabel Slone (The Guardian)
Sean Sherman, better known to his fans as “the Sioux Chef”, began hosting pop-up dinners around his adopted hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 2012, using foraged ingredients like sunflowers, milkweed and sage. After finessing his craft – and writing a successful cookbook – he finally decided to up the ante, opening Owamni, a modern Indigenous restaurant overlooking the Mississippi River.
The 80-seat establishment, which opened in July 2021 and won the James Beard award for best new restaurant the following year, has a refreshing view of what constitutes upscale fare.
According to Sherman, “Food is such a cultural identifier and we need to be able to steward and identify our Indigenous foods and reclaim them for the next generations.”
In addition to overseeing Owamni, Sherman is the founder of North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NĀTIFS), the non-profit he started in 2017 with his business partner Dana Thompson. Their organization’s aim is to promote Indigenous food education by hosting cooking classes and creating recipes at their food lab in Minneapolis. Some of them make it on to the menu at Owamni.
Minneapolis is a great place to spend a few days. If you go, here’s the lowdown on Owamni.
Owamni by The Sioux Chef
425 West River Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55401