Inaugural fundraiser features indigenous foods chef Sean Sherman

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Bemidji State University's American Indian Resource Center (AIRC) will host an inaugural fundraising dinner for American Indian Student Success, featuring a three-course meal prepared by Oglala Lakota chef Sean Sherman on Feb. 10.

Proceeds will support the university's American Indian students. The dinner begins at 6 p.m. in the AIRC's Gathering Place.

Bill Blackwell, Jr., executive director of the American Indian Resource Center, says this event — and others like it — supports the center's goal to promote a culture of philanthropy that supports BSU's American Indian students and their success.

"Promoting that culture of philanthropy was a huge goal when I took over this position," Blackwell said. "There are so many ways to define student success, and the funds raised by events like this dinner allow the AIRC to continue providing our students with a variety of services and support. We graduated a record 45 American Indian students last spring, and we want to see that number of graduates continue to grow."

Sherman's three-course meal, Bebookwaagime-giizis Ashangeng, or "Feast of the Snow Crust Moon," will begin with caramelized rabbit with re-hydrated forest mushroom, apple broth and a pumpkin seed brittle-cress. The second course includes cedar-smoked turkey, spaghetti squash and a wild rice cracker with blueberry drizzle. For dessert, Sherman will prepare a bruleed maple and squash pudding with a native seed and berry crisp along with fresh blackberries.

There will be an auction for a painting by Wesley May, a Red Lake member who has previously done a mural for the AIRC. May has also been featured previously at the center with several of his paintings, and in August 2016 he painted a wall mural in the AIRC's student lounge.

The event also will feature a wine wall fundraiser and a presentation from Blackwell.

About Sean Sherman

Sherman, the "Sioux Chef," was born in Pine Ridge, S.D. He has been cooking in Minnesota, South Dakota and Montana for 27 years, preparing traditional indigenous foods in a modern culinary context.

He uses his knowledge of Native American farming, wild food harvesting and usage, traditional preparation and migration histories to renew appreciation for Native American cuisine.

Sherman opened The Sioux Chef in 2014 to serve both as a caterer and food educator in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. In 2015, along with business partner Dana Thompson, Sherman partnered with the Little Earth Community of United Tribes in Minneapolis to open the Tatanka Truck, which features pre-contact foods of the Dakota and Minnesota territories.

Through Sioux Chef, Sherman and his team continue their mission to help educate and make indigenous foods more accessible. His vision of modern indigenous foods has been featured in many news articles and radio shows, and he has been featured at dinners at the James Beard Foundation in Milan and at Slow Foods Indigenous Terra Madre in India.