At the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, as a Sioux tribe fights the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, the months-long standoff has raised a question: How do you feed the encamped masses?
For Navajo chef Brian Yazzie, the answer was clear: in a way that honors indigenous traditions.
Yazzie is the chef du cuisine at The Sioux Chef, a Minneapolis-based catering and food education company whose mission is to revitalize Native American food culture, which was marginalized by centuries of colonization and forced assimilation. (The company’s name is a nod to its Sioux founder, Sean Sherman.)
For months now, Yazzie says, he’s watched the Standing Rock demonstrations unfold from afar and has been wanting to go there.
“Being on the front-lines of revitalizing indigenous foods, my way of contributing to the cause is being in the kitchen and cooking for the people,” he says.
So last weekend, Yazzie traveled to the Standing Rock reservation and showed up to volunteer at the main makeshift kitchen that’s been churning out meals for protesters living at the Oceti Sakowin Camp. It’s the largest of several camps that are housing the demonstrators, who oppose a section of the pipeline that would run under the Missouri River near their reservation.
Photos: Courtesy of Brian Yazzie