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Sean Sherman, Oglala Sioux, receives the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award for his work the past several years.

The award is in its ninth year and recognizes individuals who tackle sustainability, food justice and public health through their work. A committee of experts and recipients from the previous year select awardees based on the innovation and excellence of their work and the “scale of impact within a community or the nation.”

Sherman, CEO and founder of The Sioux Chef, has been cooking for 30 years and focuses on revitalizing the Indigenous food systems in modern food culture. His wife Dana Thompson is co-owner of the catering business.

The company’s social media was excited about the news.

“We are so honored and humbled by this! Our very own Chef Sean Sherman is being honored with a 2019 James Beard Foundation Leadership Award for his work helping to revitalize and promote the indigenous foods of the Americas!”

The changemaker, who was born in Pine Ridge, also expressed his gratitude for the award on social media.

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“I can’t say how much this means, and to know our hard work is being recognized as we strive to make a difference in this world!” he said. “Thank you to everybody at the James Beard Foundation for this award!”

Last spring, his book “The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen,” co-authored by Beth Dooley also won an award from the James Beard Foundation for the Best American Cookbook.

Besides the award, Sherman has so much going on. A fundraiser for his business’s next project, the Indigenous Food Lab, will be held on April 2 in Minneapolis. He is also opening a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis in 2020, according to the StarTribune. Both the food lab and restaurant are part of a non-profit he co-founded called North American Traditional Indigenous Foods Systems.

Other awardees include the Pioneer Valley Workers Center Women’s Collective, Cornelius Blanding of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Anim Steel of Real Food Generation and Leah Penniman of Soul Fire Farm.

Awards will be presented on May 5 in Chicago. 

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Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @jourdanbb. Email: