Winning the 2022 James Beard Best New Restaurant in the nation, Owamni by the Sioux Chef, has brought Native American cuisine to the forefront of fine dining in the eyes of foodies.
Once you’ve secured the prized reservation at this hot spot the Mississippi riverfront, you’ll want to round out your experience with some more of Minneapolis’ Native and Indigenous community offerings.
Owamni by The Sioux Chef serves foods that have been decolonized, removing all dairy, wheat, refined sugar, beef, chicken and pork from the menu. They serve dishes with plants, game and fish, primarily from the area, and other North American Indigenous ingredients and methods. The space, built in the ruins of the flour mills that once inhabited the spot, 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 (lineal descendant of the Wahpeton-Sisseton and Mdewakanton Dakota tribes) hired primarily Native American staff. They start the shift each day with a sage ceremony and play Indigenous 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-clad space or on the seasonal patio.
Owamni’s owners also oversee their nonprofit North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NATIFS), where they strive to educate and train others on Indigenous foods and restaurant ownership/management, to address “the economic and health crises affecting Native communities by re-establishing Native foodways.” Their Indigenous Food Lab, a professional Indigenous kitchen and training center, is located at the Midtown Global Market.
In addition to Owamni, here are other places you can try Native American food and beverages in the area.
Indigenous Food Lab Market will open in December 2022, also at Midtown Global Market. Showcasing local and national Indigenous food makers, craft creators and more, this new market by Owamni/NATIFS’ owners also will host educational events and local chefs.
Four Sisters Farmers Market is an Indigenous-focused farmers market centered on providing increased access to affordable, healthy, culturally appropriate local foods within the American Indian Cultural Corridor along Franklin Avenue that is open weekly seasonally (closed for winter).
Makwa Coffee opened in Roseville, just north of Minneapolis, in summer 2022.
Gatherings Café (by Executive Chef Brian Yazzie) at the Minneapolis American Indian Center will reopen after a building renovation in 2024; until that time, they’ll focus on feeding elders.
Birchbark Books is located near Lake of the Isles and owned by renowned Minnesota author Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa), winner of the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (The Night Watchman) and multiple other awards.
Northland Visions is a gallery and retail space selling original items made by Native peoples 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.
Native Roots Trading Post at the Dayton’s Project Winter Maker’s Market in downtown Minneapolis opens Nov. 17 through Jan. 13, 2023.
Museums & Arts
Minnesota History Center – Our Home, Native Minnesota this exhibit encompasses tales of survival, resiliency and adaptation of Native communities in Minnesota.
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 rivers meet,” a sacred spot for the Dakota people and other nations for thousands of years.
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden – Okciyapi (Help Each Other) by Angela Two Stars, is simultaneously a sculptural form, a gathering space and a participatory work that provides a site for visitors to engage with Dakota language.
Minneapolis Institute of Art’s Native American collection includes many items on view in the galleries in this free museum.
Makwa Studio is a creative space with focus on textiles, art and fashion.
Dakota Spirit Walk is an augmented reality art installation by Marlena Myles, located nearby in St. Paul.
Sacred Hoop Walk at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, is an augmented reality art exhibition created by Digital Artist Marlena Myles, a member of the Spirit Lake Dakota Tribe. Visitors can use an app on their mobile phones to view digital images and audio at stops along the walk to learn about Dakota culture and history.
Arts@MSP has an all-digital art gallery at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport featuring Minnesota Ojibwe Artist Jonathan Thunder and his Manifest’o exhibit, located in the terminal connector to Concourse B.
Water Works Park (Owamni’s location is in the pavilion) features Dakota names on native plants and other acknowledgements at this sacred location for the Dakota people at St. Anthony Falls.
Mystic Lake – Minnesota’s largest casino, with a hotel and entertainment complex, is owned by Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux community.
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux community Wacipi (Pow Wow) is held annually in August.
Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux community Hoċokata Ti Cultural Center is a cultural gathering space with a public exhibit.
For even more information, here are ways to celebrate Native American Heritage Month in Minneapolis.