Healthy Snack Invented on Indian Reservation Faces Stiff Corporate Competition


| 8/24/2016 9:21:00 AM


Tags: Native Americans, bison, wildlife, environmental justice, self sufficiency, South Dakota, Jay Walljasper,

 

The Pine Ridge Indian reservation is not the first place you’d look for good news about creating a new kind of economy that works for everyone.

This corner of South Dakota includes several of the poorest counties in the U.S., according to census figures. Ninety-seven percent of Pine Ridge’s Lakota Indian population lives below the federal poverty line, reports the American Indian Humanitarian Foundation. The unemployment rate is well over 50 percent.

Yet these dire conditions — compounded by public health problems like diabetes and addiction — have not snuffed hope. Growing numbers of Pine Ridge residents are embracing their own traditions as a path toward healing and economic self-sufficiency.

The Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, for instance, is moving forward on an ambitious set of projects, including a worker-owned construction company, a worker-owned IT firm and a farm to combat lack of access to nutritious food.

Introducing Native American Natural Foods’ Buffalo-Meat Bar

Even more surprising, Pine Ridge is home to a fast-growing natural foods company, which created a healthy new product in the booming snack-food industry. Native American Natural Foods was inspired by wasna (a concoction of cured buffalo meat and berries) to invent the Tanka Bar — which is now for sale at Whole Foods, Costco, Amazon.com, natural-food stores and other groceries across the nation.




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