On Indigenous Peoples' Day, support these Native-owned businesses

By Evan Kleiman

Indigenous agriculturalist-owner Upingaksraq runs Sakari Farms near Bend, Oregon. The farm gives away seeds for free and educates the public on agriculture. Photo courtesy of Sakari Farms.

On the occasion of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, I want to give some love to a few tribal sources of great ingredients to have in your kitchen. We’re all trying to eat more whole grains and other products with transparency, so why not buy from small businesses that have more than a monetary connection to what they produce.

Ramona Farms
Located in Sacaton, Arizona, they are a part of the Community of the Akimel O'Odham on the Gila River reservation. Ramona Farms has an extensive line of grain and bean products. I have used many of their corn products, including cornmeal, grits, and polenta, as well as their garbanzos, which are deeply flavorful, like their wheat berries. 

A special product of theirs is black, brown and white Tepary beans. Tepary beans are low on the glycemic index and full of fiber. These are landrace varieties, which mean they have been handed down for generations and are deeply adapted to the land and climate of the region. Everything is grown, harvested, processed, packaged and shipped from the farm if you buy online. 

Southwest Heritage Mill
Southwest Heritage artisanal mill is undergoing a branding change and will soon be called Ancestral Foods with a new website. Meanwhile you can find an extensive selection of heirloom blue corn products from the Chimayo area of New Mexico. They are known for their blue corn mixes for cornbread, waffles, sopaipillas and bizcochitos. Sopaipillas are a light puffy fried bread, while Bizcochitos are a New Mexican crisp butter cookie flavored with anise and cinnamon. They also have a blue corn and wheat mix for making tortillas. 

Seka Hills 
From the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation in Seka Hills is the steward of 22,000 of the most diverse farming acreage in Yolo County, California. They are primarily known for their olive oil and balsamic vinegar, which comes in flavors such as elderberry, fig and pomegranate. It’s absolutely delicious. They press single varietal olive oil from picual, taggiasca, arbequina trees and have a blend of Picual, Pendolino, and Coratina. The website is extremely informative in describing the different oil flavor profiles. They also make wine, harvest honey and almonds. They have cattle that graze the acreage from which they make jerky and beef sticks. 

Coming from Tumalo near Bend, Oregon is Sakari. This tribal enterprise is very involved with seed exchanges and seed saving, including a seed bank for tribal members only. They do free seed giveaways and have a public agricultural education program. Company leadership is Chugach Alaska Native and Dine’/Navajo. They make an assortment of fantastic hot sauces from their own peppers.