Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is NATIFS and the Indigenous Food Lab?

A: North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NATIFS), a nonprofit organization founded by James Beard award winners The Sioux Chef, is dedicated to addressing the economic and health crises affecting Native communities by re-establishing Native foodways. We imagine a new North American food system that generates wealth and improves health in Native communities through food-related enterprises.

Indigenous Food Lab is an education and training center that will serve as the heart of NATIFS’ work establishing a new Indigenous food system that reintegrates native foods and Indigenous-focused education into tribal communities across North America. We envision a future of developing and supporting Indigenous kitchens and food enterprises in tribal communities, bringing cultural, nutritional, and economic revitalization across North America!

Q: Is the Indigenous Food Lab a sit-down restaurant?

A:  The Indigenous Food Lab is a training center that will cover all aspects of Indigenous food service: research and development, Indigenous food identification, gathering, cultivation, and preparation, and all components of starting and running a successful culinary business. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our plans to include a restaurant as part of the Indigenous Food Lab have been put on hold. We will share news and updates on this project as the situation around the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold.

Q: Can I order food at the Indigenous Food Lab?

A: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our plans to include a restaurant as part of the Indigenous Food Lab have been put on hold. We will share news and updates on this project as the situation around the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold. Stay tuned over the next few months for updates on ways you can access Indigenous foods!

Q: Where is the Indigenous Food Lab located?

A: The Indigenous Food Lab is located in the Midtown Global Market on Lake Street in the heart of Minneapolis.

Q: How does Indigenous Food Lab help the local community?

A: With skills and support from the Indigenous Food Lab, trainees will be equipped to open satellite food businesses in their tribal communities. By providing education and training that gives Native people access to healthy, local, Indigenous food, we can not only address serious issues of malnutrition, food-related illness, and economic impoverishment on tribal lands -– we can also use our shared heritage to build bridges and build power within and between Native communities and our allies.

In response to food insecurity made worse by the pandemic, as well as the George Floyd murder and following social justice riots and destruction, we mobilized our team at the Indigenous Food Lab in Minneapolis to get healthy Indigenous foods out to those in need in our community. The Indigenous Food Lab has since been preparing between 200 – 400+ free meals a day as part of a collaboration with Minnesota Central Kitchen. We currently have support to feed homeless encampments, elder centers, people accessing food shelves, and other at-risk groups through December. We hope to raise funds to continue these efforts and integrate them into our training programming.

Q: How can I get involved with the Indigenous Food Lab?

A: Building strong community is at the core of what we do. If you want to get involved, you can sign up for volunteer shifts in our kitchen.

We will have updated volunteer opportunities as our vision evolves depending on so many things, so please keep checking back.

Q: Where can I access the ingredients used in The Sioux Chef cookbook that are showcased at the Indigenous Food Lab?

A: Head over to the Sioux Chef website to explore Indigenous food producers working with these ingredients and other Indigenous foods.

We plan to have indigenous ingredients for sale on-site in the near future at the Midtown Global Market to create more food access.

Q: When will the Indigenous Food Lab be open for in-person classes?

A: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, our classes will be taught through online learning modalities until further notice. Stay tuned for updates on in-person classes via our website and social media.

Q: How can I access the e-learning education modules for Indigenous Food Lab?

A: You can find these at the NATIFS website, where our e-learning modules will be shared with the public. We are working hard to get that curriculum jump-started, and we estimate the first classwork will be online by mid-October.