Launched roughly 15 years ago on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Native American Natural Foods (NANF) aims to help restore the buffalo economy on Native lands, while providing healthy snacks based on a traditional pemmican recipe.
The Native American-owned and -operated company produces the highly acclaimed TANKA line of meat and fruit snacks — and USA Today has taken notice.
An expert panel for USA Today’s 2020 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards has selected the Tanka Slow-Smoked Original Gift Box as one of 20 contenders for Best Gift for Outdoor Adventure, and now readers get to vote. The highly competitive vote shows TANKA Bar consistently appearing in the top three as readers from around the country show support for their favorite brands.
“We’re thrilled to have a larger platform to share the purpose and mission of TANKA, to return the buffalo to the land, lives and economies of Native people,” said Dawn Sherman, CEO of Native American Natural Foods. “Indigenous foods restore our mind, body and spirit and enhance our traditions. We’re honored to receive this important recognition and thank our customers and USA Today readers for their loyalty and support.”
It was 2007 when Native American Natural Foods debuted its first food product, the Tanka Bar. Based on traditional wasna and pemmican, the Tanka Bar combines high-protein, prairie-fed buffalo and tart-sweet cranberries. The lean meat has provided fuel to Lakota warriors for centuries. “Our runners used buffalo and berries when they would go out on hunts; they’d pack it in a buffalo horn,” Karlene Hunter (Oglala Lakota), co-founder of Native American Natural Foods, told Native Business.
While providing traditional fuel to contemporary warriors, Native American Natural Foods is claiming substantial shelf and e-commerce space. In the Lakota language, Tanka means “larger than life,” and that’s what the company is becoming. Today Native American Natural Foods products are sold at more than 8,000 retailers, including Amazon, Whole Foods, REI and Costco. The company also makes the only nationally distributed Native American food product certified by the Intertribal Agriculture Council as “Native-made.”
In a pivotal move in July, the Native American-owned business raised its first multi-million-dollar capital investment, backed by the Libra Social Investment Fund, Clearinghouse CDFI and Highlands Associates, with support from Candide Group. The funds are propelling NANF and TANKA products into the future, and elevating the brand’s profile even further.
The USA Today national contest ends on October 26, 2020. Anyone can vote for Tanka’s gift box at https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-gift-for-outdoor-adventure/. A person can vote once a day for the run of the contest.