Multifaceted thought leader and social impact entrepreneur. Indigenous cuisine and food sovereignty expert. Accomplished restauranteur and innovator.

Dana Thompson

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At a glance:

Dana Thompson is the co-owner and Chief Operating Officer of The Sioux Chef and co-owner of the James Beard Award-winning Owamni Restaurant. By looking at food sovereignty through an Indigenous, non-Western lens, Dana reveals remarkable connections between culture, healthy eating, mental health, and sustainability. She has been featured in the New York Times, Vogue, the MN Women’s Press, and on PBS NewsHour.

A lineal descendant of the Wahpeton-Sisseton and Mdewakanton Dakota tribes and lifetime Minnesota native, Dana has worked for nearly a decade within the food sovereignty
movement. She has traveled extensively throughout tribal communities, engaging in critical ways to improve food access and implementing strategies to do the most possible good as
a social entrepreneur.

As co-owner and Chief Operating Officer of The Sioux Chef, she manages all business development strategies for the company. In July 2021, Dana and co-founded Owamni by The Sioux Chef, Minnesota’s first full-service Indigenous restaurant. Owamni received the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in the U.S. in June 2022.

Dana also co-founded the nonprofit NĀTIFS (North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems), where she served as Senior Director of Health and Wellness Initiatives. Here she
focused her expertise on addressing and treating ancestral trauma through decolonized perspectives of honoring and leveraging Indigenous wisdom. She left NATIFS is April of 2023 to pursue new opportunities.

Her writing has been published in the New York Times, MN Women’s Press, and her work within food sovereignty has been featured in Vogue, Bloomberg, The New York Times, New
Yorker and many other publications.

As a working musician and music producer through much of her life, Dana has released seven albums.

  • Food sovereignty – How Indigenous Wisdom Can Influence Our Health

    Description: Food sovereignty is “the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods“. Through her expert, Indigenous and non-Western lens, Dana reveals remarkable connections between culture, healthy eating, mental health, and sustainability.
  • A Turbulent Journey: Personal & Professional Reflections on the history of the Indigenous Peoples of North America

    Through stories of the turmoil of her childhood, and her inherited Dakota bloodline, Dana illustrates the sweeping history of the Indigenous peoples of North America. With heart and grit, she illustrates what resiliency looks like and how she triumphed over negative thinking, moving from scarcity to abundance. to build a business that has changed the world.
  • Social Impact Entrepreneurship – How do we make societal improvements through business?

    Entrepreneurs may turn a profit and affect society in positive way.  Using the inspiring story of creating Owamni and Dana’s honed philosophy of success, this talk outlines strategies for business development to make work and the workplace better.  By exploring health and wellness, sustainability, job creation and education, businesses can often be financially successful because consumers want to vote with their pocketbooks. New financing vehicles are emerging to create ways for investors to be connected with social impact businesses environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing.
Dana presented as a keynote speaker at ArktiskMat 2022, on the topic of ‘origins’. Dana has immense knowledge on the topic of food sovereignty – and has greatly contributed to raising knowledge and awareness around indigenous food culture around the world. Her work is far reaching, and we are beyond grateful that she made such an impactful contribution to our symposium as a keynote speaker! Dana has a wonderful presence as a skilled speaker and presenter, but more importantly, her positive presence and warmth made it wonderful to work with her at every stage of planning. We know that she will continue to do great work and look forward to watching her in the future!

— ArktiskMat, Arctic Food Festival, Norway

Dana is an incredible speaker – highly engaging and deeply passionate. Her presentation for Carmichael Lynch was educational, interactive, inspiring, and left everyone wanting more. Truly, many attendees expressed the desire for her presentation to go on for another hour.

— Laura Norton, Carmichael Lynch

Dana's presentation about generational trauma and how it can affect the body was so powerful and eye-opening. The way she and her staff at Owamni use decolonized foods to help heal the human body and to heal Native Peoples is aspiring and beautiful. Having a better understanding about the correlation between gut health, food and colonization left our community inspired and in awe of Dana's work.

— Kue Chang, Carmichael Lynch

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