The Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio provides a number of programs and resources for Native Americans who have relocated to Columbus. Now, after years of grassroots planning, its leaders have recently launched the first authentic Native American cuisine available in Central Ohio called NAICCO Cuisine.
“My wife and I are tribal members of the Confederate Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon,” said Ty Smith, Project Director at NAICCO.
Ty and his wife, Masami, moved to Columbus in 1996.
“The first thing that we looked for was an Indian Center, you know or Indian people,” said Masami Smith, Executive Director at NAICCO.
Whether it is relocating for school, military assignment, or potential employment opportunities, Native Americans who move to Central Ohio find community in the inter-tribal center at the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio, known as NAICCO.
“A lot of different events, activities, and the core focus for us is about community development and cultural preservation,” said Ty.
Masami added, “The ceremonial and cultural piece is really important to the wellness of our community.”
One of the many ways they try and preserve the Native American culture comes through food.
“NAICCO cuisine is our vehicle,” said Masami.
The food truck, located on Saturdays outside NAICCO’s building on the South Side of Columbus, is a first of its kind.
“It’s Indian comfort food so we’ve called it Native American street food,” said Masami.
From a “NAICCO Pocket” and “Indian Taco,” to “Rez Sliders” and an “Indian Sundae,” NAICCO Cuisine offers a variety of contemporary and traditional dishes.
“Fry bread, that’s our key piece! That’s what all the Indian country wants is fry bread with everything,” said Masami.
As management of NAICCO, Ty and Masami hope NAICCO Cuisine can help raise funds for a new, larger center in Central Ohio…a place with more land, so their community can grow.
“We’ve provided subject matter experts, champions, elders, spiritual leaders, and from a variation of tribes too to try and make sure that representation is again, inclusive of as many tribes as possible,” said Ty.
“NAICCO Cuisine is hopefully going help us provide this space that’s therapeutic and home for our Indian people,” added Masami.
The NAICCO Cuisine food truck is open to the public on Saturdays between 2pm-7pm at 67 E Innis Ave., Columbus, OH 43207.
NAICCO has started a fundraising campaign to build a new center. For more information, click here.