( ENSPIRE Lifestyle ) Sherman is Awarded for His Leadership in the Movement to Revitalize Indigenous Food Systems
ENSPIRE Contributor: Cailin Tennis
Sean Sherman, a member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe, has recently been honored on TIME’s List of 100 Most Influential People. The TIME 100 list, now in its twentieth year, recognizes the impact, innovation, and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals. One reason they awarded him this honor is that he is a founder of the non-profit NĀTIFS — North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems. He is also an ongoing advocate for Indigenous people, a revolutionary chef, and a published cookbook author.
Sherman also leads a team of culinary staff, educators, and advocates creating resources crucial to the movement. This is not the first prestigious recognition that Sherman has received. His restaurant Owamni is dedicated to decolonized cuisine and was recognized by the James Beard Foundation as the Best New Restaurant in America in 2022. Sherman was also nominated for Best Chef: Midwest that same year.
An ongoing problem within indigenous communities is diet-related disparities and food apartheid. This stems from the colonization of Native land, which then caused systemic problems sufficiently accessing nutritional, quality, and culturally relevant food. Sherman’s non-profit NĀTIFS collects and disseminates knowledge of Indigenous food systems including agriculture, culinary, ethnobotany, and more. It also serves as a point of connection for individuals and organizations interested in Native food culture and Native food sovereignty, and advocates for Indigenous foodways at a policy level.
Sherman says, “I am thrilled to accept this honor on behalf of my ancestors, who lived in balance with the natural world. For generations, they nourished themselves with the bounty of the land where we lived, and we thrived.” On top of this meaningful tribute, he adds, “The foodways that sustained our Indigenous ancestors have the potential to rebalance and heal our bodies, weave connections within our communities, and bring harmony to our relationship with the planet. The cultural knowledge our ancestors left behind is a gift to us, one I am committed to recovering and sharing for the benefit of generations to come.”
The mission of building a new Indigenous food economy calls for new resources, leading Sherman to establish the first NĀTIFS Indigenous Food Lab in Minneapolis, a culinary training, development, and support center. In 2017, he published The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen, which won the James Beard Award for Best New Cookbook in 2018. The cookbook showcases Chef Sean’s philosophy on reclaiming Indigenous foods in a modern context. Sherman also won the prestigious James Beard Leadership Award in 2019.
Not only has Chef Sherman made extraordinary contributions to the culinary industry, but he has also given a voice to so many indigenous people that are so often silenced. ENSPIRE is eager to promote Sherman’s success and achievements, as well as that of his non-profit NĀTIF. ENSPIRE also encourages readers to educate themselves about Native history and culture, especially using enlightening resources like NĀTIF.
To learn more about Sean Sherman, visit his website. The full TIME’s 100 list and related tributes appear in the April 24th issue of TIME, available on newsstands on Friday, April 14th, and on their website.
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