Chef Sean Sherman is making waves in the culinary world by cooking from his roots. As part of the indigenous tribe Oglala Lakota, he's spent the last few years learning about what people ate and how they cooked their food around the upper Mid-Western U.S. before European colonization.
His interest in the history of his region sparked a non-profit, a catering company, and a food truck based on the principals of eating the same whole and local foods that his ancestors would have.
While "eating like one's ancestors" is the cornerstone of the well-known paleo and locavore movements, Sean's story is more in-depth, personal, and connected to his particular environment.
Read on to learn about why indigenous American cuisine is important for both American culture and for health.
The "pre-colonial" diet
"The foundation for the cuisine is understanding the basics about what made up these Native American food systems from the past.
"Some people use the term 'pre-reservation', 'pre-colonial', or 'pre-contact' to describe this diet. From our perspective, it doesn’t mean 1492, when Europeans were first showing up. People weren’t having contact with Europeans all the way up until the mid-1800’s.
"I went back as far as I could with history books to get a sense of the migration of people and their plight after contact with Europeans and the formation of the American government.
"I had this vision of doing an all-Lakota cookbook that reached backwards and used the knowledge of wild plants, wild game, and foraging techniques that they had."