SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — For many South Dakota Native Americans, Thanksgiving isn’t a time for celebrating, given the history of hostilities between the U.S. and Indigenous peoples. Yet the spirit of giving thanks is on the menu at a Native American restaurant in Sioux Falls. Guests at the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House will benefit from the generosity being dished-out from the Watecha Bowl.
The Watecha Bowl is switching from preparing its signature traditional Native American food to a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
“We’re doing turkey, honey-baked ham, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy,” Watecha Bowl owner Lawrence West said.
The Watecha Bowl closed for the day so workers and volunteers could prepare the meals for guests at the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House.
“I like to volunteer in the community and I haven’t been able to in the last year-and-a-half, with COVID, and it’s an opportunity that came up and it sounded like something good to do,” volunteer Tabitha Schochenmaier said.
“It’s a nice time. It’s bringing our employees together, it’s bringing volunteers together, it’s all in good fun. It’s all made with love,” Sophie West said.
The meals will be served in the Bishop Dudley House’s newly-remodeled kitchen featuring stainless steel appliances and cookware.
“We’re really excited to have the Watecha Bowl and Lawrence and his whole crew here, it’s going to be a great day and I think our guests are going to be so excited and they’re going to love it and who doesn’t love Thanksgiving dinner,” Bishop Dudley Hospitality House Executive Director Madeline Shields said.
The Watecha Bowl staff and volunteers plan to prepare about 200 Thanksgiving meals. And really, the process isn’t all that different from a regular business day here at the restaurant.
“Clearly, it’s a lot less flour! But no, it’s just run-of-the-mill seasonings and fun, break-up the every day fry bread mania,” Lawrence West said.
But for the Wests, Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday they circle on their calendar.
“We don’t necessarily acknowledge Thanksgiving in the traditional sense, or what it is to be celebrated for. It’s not really politics behind it. But at the end of the day, it’s like I’d rather go spend it with my people being thankful for what we actually do have,” West said.
For Native Americans like West, Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday to observe, but rather, a day to serve.
The Bishop Dudley Hospitality House expects between 100 to 130 guests for the Thanksgiving lunch on Thursday.
The organization is always looking for volunteers to help prepare and serve meals. If you’re interested in volunteering, click here