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‘Hustle’ Best Ingredient in Indigenous Cuisine

Indigenous Arts Montana


I wish Billings had more under the table Indigenous food vendors and caterers. We need more side hustling aunties who can cook and deliver good food for a small fee. It makes for a family-like culinary option. The local restaurant delivery is nice, however nothing beats banana cream pie, pan bread and sausage gravy, or Indian tacos made in someone’s home. You can feel the auntie love!

It makes me wonder about Billings culinary art scene. With so many restaurants, you’d think there would be more options as far as menus go. In the past 10 years, we’ve seen a number of food trucks come and go. Unfortunately, none of them have had Indigenous food options like hangover soup, beef stew with frybread, or really anything that tastes like home. 

There’s a growing interest in America due to the Sioux Chef Sean Sherman, Indigenous food specialist and ethnobotanist Linda Black Elk, and many others revitalizing Indigenous traditional food stuffs.

Yet, what of the contemporary comfort food born out of the love of eating carbs and meat? That is part of our history as well, which should be honored and enjoyed by everyone all the time in my opinion.

Eventually, I would love to see an Indigenous comfort food restaurant in Billings where aunties could cook and visit with customers all day. That dream may come to pass eventually, but for now, I’ll continue to enjoy love-made meals created in home kitchens by Indigenous people looking to make a few extra bucks for gas or ciggs.

That’s part of our culture I absolutely adore, because no one makes hangover soup like an auntie hustling for gas funds.

Charlene Sleeper
Charlene Sleeper

Charlene Sleeper, Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho, Crow and Chippewa Cree, is a non-traditional student at Montana State University Billings majoring in human services with a minor is criminal justice. She is currently working with the Global Peace Foundation on cross cultural relations and is multidisciplinary artist. Her favorite creative mediums are acrylic painting and poetry. Charlene lives in Billings with her dog Lotus who is a serious pee bag and likes to chew up everything.

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