Pawnee cook wins second consecutive taco championship

For the second consecutive year, Ramona Horsechief is the top Indian taco cook after winning first place at the 2014 National Indian Taco Championship in Pawhuska.

Horsechief (Pawnee/ Cherokee) took the winning honors and $1,500 in prize money after competing against 15 other competitors in the annual event held Oct. 4 on Kihekah in front of the Triangle Building. That day, the participants set up food booths where they prepared their Indian taco dishes for sale to the public and also prepared dishes for the two rounds of judging for the top three finishers.

Finishing in second place ($1,000 prize) was the Strike Axe booth run by Osages Marjorie Williams, Tom Trumbly and assisting family members. Third place ($500) went to Beatrice Realrider (Pawnee), who won second place in 2012.

This year’s People’s Choice award and $1,000 prize went to Dana Daylight, who ran a booth with family members including Mary Wildcat and Robynn Rulo. Spectators who sign up and pay a fee to sample tacos from the contestants and score their best choices determine the winner in the People’s Choice competition. 

Horsechief said she is “thankful to God” and felt “just blessed” after learning she won first place. Horsechief caters and sells her Indian tacos out of food booths at various Native American-related festivals and special events. Horsechief also won first place in the 2009 competition and her sister, Lisa Pahsetopah, won first place in the dessert taco competition offered that year.

In this year’s competition, Horsechief said she cooked her chili with venison and buffalo meat. She also makes her own salsa with chilies that are roasted in the ground beforehand.  

Horsechief launched Horsechief Catering last year and said she still holds cooking presentations on healthy eating ideas and cooks for ministry events. She refers to these efforts as “using her God-given skills and talent.” 

This year’s participation of 16 food booths is up from last year’s count at 13, said event worker Patricia Wilson. By afternoon, Wilson said 64 people had signed up to be People’s Choice judges so they could sample Indian tacos from the booths.

Wilson said she was also encouraged by the day’s cool sunny weather which was suitable for the event. In 2012, the event took place amid cloudy skies that brought rain, sleet and snow all in one day.

For the top three place judging, the Indian taco dishes faced two rounds of judging, as well as a “celebrity judge” round where invited well-known locals and public officials sampled the dishes before writing their scores on pieces of paper. This year’s celebrity judge panel included reigning 2014 Osage Princess Katelynn Pipestem, Osage County District Court Judge John Kane, Osage Nation Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn, Interior designer Chad Renfro, and Tulsa’s News on 6 reporter Tess Maune.

Daylight said she felt “ecstatic, thankful and grateful” for her second win of the People’s Choice award. “It takes a lot of work – good chili, good bread and good service,” she added.

Daylight attributed her win to the homemade pico de gallo used on the Indian tacos, as well as the “love and laughter” she shared with assisting family members and the spectators who visited with them.

The 2015 National Indian Taco Championship date is set again for the first Saturday in October, according to the event’s Facebook page.

See more photos from this year's Indian taco championship event on the Osage News Flickr page at: