Elena Terry, Wisconsin Dales-based chef, a member of Ho-Chunk Nation, founded Wild Bearies, which helps cure and educate Indigenous communities through traditional food.
Terry grows her food, and as she told HuffPost, “I can’t go to the grocery store and buy everything I need.” “It is the definition and then some of the slow food.”
Terry studied political science and philosophy and worked as a tribal legislator. But one day, she decided, “this is not me.” She began working in restaurants and then founded her own business.
Last year, Terry helped two of her friends, Sean Sherman (The Sioux Chef) and Crystal Wahpepah, open their Indigenous restaurants in Minneapolis and Oakland. On Huffpost’s Voices in Food series, Terry spoke with Garin Pirnia about Indigenous restaurants, how bad environmental decisions affect agriculture, and having the chance to assist others.
Food as medicine is trendy, but for me, it isn’t like that at all. The drug is the process of creating, acquiring, and building relationships with my community.
We’ve had a lot of casualties from addictions and substance abuse, and Wild Bearies is a mentoring program for people struggling with addictions or emotional trauma. With that umbrella in the community, it can be related to anybody at a certain level. We are here to cook together, share meals with our community and sustain each other.
Terry says that she is incredibly blessed to be doing this. It is a place for healing, and it does me good to do that work and support others in the same way. If you can appreciate your traditional food systems if it is Italian or Greek, a little more because of my work and the connections I have, we’re all working for better health and more vital.