What exactly is NAICCO Cuisine?
The short, summarized answer could simply be: NAICCO Cuisine is a Native American owned and operated food trailer that offers a one-of-a-kind menu consisting of unique Native American street food, or what might be better referred to as savory favorites from various parts of Indian Country. However, in order to answer this question properly, the most important component of what really makes the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio (NAICCO) what it is, needs to be spoken to… and that’s the Native Americans who personify NAICCO, and all that it stands for.
Like many heartfelt Native American stories, NAICCO Cuisine too, derives from a humble, grassroots beginning. The origin of NAICCO Cuisine first came about by way of the local Native American community, or those who call NAICCO home. Over a period of nine plus years, and through an array of community engagement activities, a consensus was voiced by both NAICCO leadership and a wealth of longstanding Native American community members. The community voice that emerged over those years has spoken directly and distinctly to the importance of NAICCO having an in-house sustainability plan and approach in place; thus, so meaningful Native American programs, events, and gatherings can continue forward into the future. In seeing the importance of this community driven statement, NAICCO team members made a bold decision to step up and apply for an Administration for Native Americans (ANA) grant; a funding source with the distinct potential to address the spirit of this concern.
In writing the ANA grant, the NAICCO team deliberated with community elders, families, youth, and the NAICCO Board of Trustees, to be certain that every element necessary for assuring the success of the project was considered and taken into account, and more so, to ensure meaningful outcomes were set in place for both NAICCO and the local Native American community. The three main pillars that make up NAICCO Cuisine are: Social Development, Economic Development, and Cultural Preservation. NAICCO Cuisine not only stands as a means for creating opportunities for NAICCO community members to earn extra income and develop future employability skillsets – by way of hands on experiences and trainings – but as well, provides a nurturing atmosphere that lends itself to the development of community buy-in and overall ownership. The design of the model that defines NAICCO Cuisine is one that is not only meant to generate revenue to supplement ongoing programs, activities, and events at NAICCO, but just as meaningful, is one that serves as a platform for promoting traditional Native American values and teachings; the foundational fabric of Native Americans, or those virtues better recognized as prayer, respect, compassion, truth, generosity, humility, and wisdom. Furthermore, this sustainability initiative and all the components that it is comprised of, is not just meant to ensure a future for NAICCO and the people it stands for, but just as importantly, it is meant to represent an attainable possibility in today’s day and age for our Native American people; or better yet, the writing of a fresh, new, successful chapter in Native American history.
Notably, this sustainability model is driven by a distinct vision, or the desire to achieve a highly sought-after goal. Through the same participatory focused process described above for NAICCO Cuisine, so too did the clarity of this vision come to fruition. That vision/goal is for NAICCO to move out of its current location on the South Side of Columbus and onward to that of a more suitable location. Simply put, this would be a turn-key piece of property (sizeable acreage with existing-sound structures) somewhere within the vicinity of Central Ohio. This vision, though still in the making, is becoming clearer day by day; even more so now since being able to launch NAICCO Cuisine. Markedly, the voice of the Native American community at NAICCO has given life to this vision, and at the heart of that voice has always been the undeniable desire to have a real place of our own here in Ohio where we can gather; a land base we can call ours… where we can together, raise happy-healthy families, share and enjoy the abundances of life as an intertribal community, and ultimately stand together as proud Native Americans in Ohio. Again, NAICCO Cuisine is more than just a one-of-a-kind Native American street food option in Ohio. At its core there will always be a community driven initiative to develop a self-sustaining means for ensuring future, culturally congruent programming at NAICCO. Simultaneously, NAICCO Cuisine will serve as a real, foundational step toward the goal of establishing a bigger and better NAICCO in Central Ohio.
Going forward, we are not only excited to be the first to bring Native American street food on the scene in Columbus, but as well, are looking forward to the opportunities ahead that will allow us to share NAICCO Cuisine’s unique menu with the rest of Ohio. NAICCO Cuisine will not disappoint in delivering a culturally rich, inviting atmosphere that offers exceptional food to its customers. Native American street food items to be found on NAICCO Cuisine’s menu include: NDN Taco, NDN Taco Bowl, NAICCO Pocket, Buffalo Burger, NDN Sundae, and Fry Bread (best fry bread east of the Mississippi). If you would like to come and taste a bit of Indian Country here in Ohio, and support an honorable cause, then come and experience the exceptionality and positive vibe that NAICCO Cuisine proudly exemplifies.