Let’s Name Indian Tacos the Official State Food of Oklahoma!

Straight outta Austin, the Honorable Rep. Gina Hinojosa filed a resolution to make tacos the official state food of Texas. If it passes, I applaud Texas for not only honoring Latino culture, but for recognizing the culinary artistry that makes the Lone Star State so great, especially at a time where many people believe us to be “criminals and rapists.”

This past Friday, I stopped by the Pete White Health and Fitness Center, 4021 S. Walker to support my local Oklahoma City Pow Wow Club and their monthly Indian Taco fundraiser; as I stood there, watching the Indigenous women in the kitchen, proud of their delectable wares, making that vaunted frybread with such hand-crafted precision, I was hit with a startling realization: lawmakers should name Indian Tacos the Official State Food of Oklahoma.

Besides, you know, returning Native land and granting us full sovereignty over them, what better way to pay tribute to this state and its original denizens than by showcasing frybread, once a method of pure survival, and thanks to the Navajos, an evolutionized creation made from the barely-there commodities given to us by the Government.

Once the thing of various tortured walks of relocation now, frybread—and the Indian Taco especially—is a famed foodstuff that many people, Native or otherwise, devour on the most special of moments. And, as delicious as it is, the Indian Taco is far more significant for what it actually represents: overcoming adversity.

There is a certain kind of adversity most Oklahomans have dealt with repeatedly living here, in its various relative forms; for every stark injustice, pivotal set-back and God-given disaster, Oklahoma and its usually downtrodden people have continually managed to survive, for better not worse, just like Native people did and continue to do.

We’ve managed to stand strong and have kept our traditions very alive, including our culinary histories—culminating in that big basket of frybread that just about every tribe in the state has adopted as their own.

Recently, Oklahoma Sen. Casey Murdock of Felt, Oklahoma—who works as a rancher, by the way—has authored a bill to make the rib-eye the Official Steak of Oklahoma. As much as I love a good rib-eye, most people can’t really afford a nice thick cut of beef like that—the last rib-eye I bought was on clearance, green around the edges and emanating a foul odor—but everyone can afford some flour, water and a bit of lard.

At least I hope they can.

So senators and congressmen, please heed the call—the harmony of simmering oil, the melody of that dough in the fryer and the satisfied sounds of a deep-seated hunger being satiated with a mixture of beans and meat, cheese and lettuce, salsa and jalapeños. But, Oklahoma lawmakers, if you need a little bit more sonorous noise, here’s Oklahoma’s own Native Krunk duo, Mike Bone, with the final word about Frybread Power…


Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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9 Responses

  1. Well don’t get me wrong I loves me some Indian Tacos but I gotta vote for the Okie Onion Fried Hamburger as the Official State Food. Lot’s of places in the Southwest can claim Indian Tacos but nobody other than Oklahoma can claim this classic burger prepared just so. Places like the J&W Grill in Chickasha and Sid’s in El Reno are food shrines!

  2. A slice of pizza dipped in ranch.

  3. Best idea I have heard all year!

  4. I have lived in Oklahoma my whole life but only recently discovered the wonders of Indian Tacos, after moving from the big city to the rural parts of the historic Cherokee Nation. I’m sad for all those years that I did without.

    My introduction was at a boring yet very well-attended political fundraiser. Would so many people have shown up for burgers? I doubt it.

    Everyone has beef and hamburgers. Indian Tacos are SO GOOD, and no food is as uniquely Oklahoman as they are. Louis’ nomination is brilliant.

    Before our botched attempt to represent a scissor-tailed flycatcher on our license plates, those plates represented our Native heritage and proclaimed us to be “Native America.” I’d rather see us continue to honor that heritage rather that of the cheating, land-grabbing “sooners.”

  5. I was going to suggest,

    “chicken fried steak” but,

    “roller dogs” at Love’s”

    gets my vote as the quintessential Okie food. (whoa, spell checker said I got that right the first time)

    1. Only if you add ranch.

  6. It would be a rare person to deny that frybread and ndn tacos are delicious. Despite the fact that it was once a food of resilience at a time the United States government was openly committing genocide against native nations, we have to ask ourselves – is this still a tool of resilience and survival. The answer is no. We now have epidemic levels of diabetes, hypertension, and a list of other chronic diseases rampant that are food related in our communities not only in Oklahoma but across the United States and Canada. At 700 calories per piece -not to mention all the additional calories piled on top of it when you are having an ndn taco (and you know you can’t just have or make one piece of frybread) – frybread and ndn tacos are killing our communities. There’s no way to get around it.

    Although not pan-ndn (like frybread has become) there are many indigenous cuisines that have been eaten in Oklahoma prior US government forcefully moving tribal nations from else where on to the traditional lands of the tribes that were originally there. With the coming of other nations brought tons of new cuisines not previously seen in Oklahoma. These tribes brought seeds and a new knowledge base from their homelands of various ways to prepare the different kinds of foods they now found around them in Indian Territory. Afterwards settlers (and can we really stop praising boomer sooners – there’s nothing cool or romantic about being so greedy you couldn’t wait for the others to make a run on stealing ndn land and wanted to do it early. The whole thing is apart of the larger story/act of genocide in the country and it’s not cute) brought their food knowledge as foods they’re accustomed to.

    Although fusion with indigenous foods have been around since the late 1400 or early 1500s (Columbus sailed back to Spain with indigenous foods – and with a starving Europe, more food from the americas was sent back there making them the first to receive food aid from the americas. Additionally 70% of the produce in the world comes from indigenous peoples in the americas) precolonial and colonial cuisines continue to be fused together in Oklahoma and elsewhere. This goes beyond frybread.

    With such a rich and deep culinary history within oklahoma, there should really be a push for rediscovery by folks to understand what are the original cuisines of what is now Oklahoma and to support the folks cooking them – Cherokee chefs located in Tulsa Taelor Barton and Bradley James Dry, for example. Furthermore folks should embrace the fusion of those indigenous cuisines and the contributions of their ancestors to make cuisines that true li could not have been created any other place in the world. Either way, let’s stop praising a food (frybread made from flour and ndn tacos) that is literally killing our peoples. Let’s understand the past and embrace healthier indigenous foods as well.

    As a side note: Choctaws have a precolonial traditional frybread made from corn (tanchi) and bear grease. It can be made at home using olive oil. To learn more contact Ian Thompson from Choctaw nation.

  7. Are those dude midgets?

  8. I got a whiff of county fair Indian tacos cooked in old grease & never have tried one…it’s pretty bad when even a child yells “Dad, what’s that nasty smell!”….

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