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National Indian Taco Championship title goes to Fort Randall Casino

Ramona Horsechief, Frybread Factory LLC win second and third places and People’s Choice award goes to Jacque Jones and the Jones Girls

The 19th Annual National Indian Taco Championship crown went to the chefs of Four Directions Restaurant this year, a four-person team from the Fort Randall Casino/Hotel in South Dakota.

The Four Directions team, Michelle Irvin, Ingrid Weddell, Andrea Cournoyer and Loren Kazena, all work at the restaurant located in the casino and hotel owned and operated by the Yankton Sioux Tribe.

They drove 10 hours from Wagner, S.D., before arriving in the early morning on the day of the competition. They had just enough time to get in a brief sleep at the new Pawhuska Osage Casino & Hotel, which they said was “very nice.”

The championships also saw some familiar faces and winners with Second place going to 8-time champion Ramona Horsechief, and third place going to Frybread Factory LLC. People’s Choice went to Jacque Jones and the Jones girls. Twenty-two competitors took part in the event, held in downtown Pawhuska.

When asked what makes their Indian Tacos special, Irvin, like any good cook, gave some hints but not her secrets.

“I’ll start with the dough. Loren is our dough maker. When he first jumped on the Four Directions team, he didn’t even know how to make frybread,” she said. “But he learned from like four or five different people and he made his own recipe. He did that himself and he’s really good.

“Our taco meat is really good. We do something different, we don’t put the whole bean in our taco meat, we use the refried beans in our taco meat and it’s just enough to make a binder and we flavor them with special seasonings. But I think what got us the win today is her salsa,” Irvin said, pointing at Cournoyer. “Her salsa was amazing.”

“It’s homemade, roasted,” Cournoyer said.

Irvin said everything worked out perfectly. “It all came together and I’m very proud of my team.”

To view photos from NITC 2023, visit the Osage News Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/photos/osagenews/albums/72177720312356262

The NITC also hosts a contest powwow every year and below is a list of the dance winners:

Jr Girls Cloth/Buckskin

1) Maliyah West

2) Embree Smith

3) Stahts Hammer

Jr. Girls Jingle/Fancy

1) Emma Mckibben

2) Wahveshe Hamilton

3) Lyric Hogner

Jr. Boys Straight

1) Antwine Hamilton

2) Blaine Hipp

3) Darien West

Women’s Jingle/Fancy

1) Jaida Whitecloud

2) Shanon Forte

Women’s Cloth/Buckskin

1) Blake Cunningham

2) Tammy Cunningham

3) Cresencia Twohatchett

Men’s Straight

1) Beaushee Wildcat

2) Otto Hamilton

3) Keetha Buffalohead

Men’s Fancy

1) Vann Wildcat

2) Graycloud Lieb

3) Ryland Moore

Author

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Shannon Shaw Duty
Shannon Shaw Dutyhttps://osagenews.org

Title: Editor

Email: sshaw@osagenation-nsn.gov

Twitter: @dutyshaw

Topic Expertise: Columnist, Culture, Community

Languages spoken: English, Osage (intermediate), Spanish (beginner)

Shannon Shaw Duty, Osage from the Grayhorse District, is the editor of the award-winning Osage News, the official independent media of the Osage Nation. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a master’s degree in Legal Studies with an emphasis in Indigenous Peoples Law. She currently sits on the Freedom of Information Committee for the Society of Professional Journalists. She has served as a board member for LION Publishers, as Vice President for the Pawhuska Public Schools Board of Education, on the Board of Directors for the Native American Journalists Association (now Indigenous Journalists Association) and served as a board member and Chairwoman for the Pawhuska Johnson O’Malley Parent Committee. She is a Chips Quinn Scholar, a former instructor for the Freedom Forum’s Native American Journalism Career Conference and the Freedom Forum’s American Indian Journalism Institute. She is a former reporter for The Santa Fe New Mexican. She is a 2012 recipient of the Native American 40 Under 40 from the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development. In 2014 she helped lead the Osage News to receive NAJA's Elias Boudinot Free Press Award. The Osage News won Best Newspaper from the SPJ-Oklahoma Chapter in their division 2018-2022. Her award-winning work has been published in Indian Country Today, The Washington Post, the Center for Public Integrity, NPR, the Associated Press, Tulsa World and others. She currently resides in Pawhuska, Okla., with her husband and together they share six children, two dogs and two cats.
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