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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America



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Santa Ana Pueblo’s Cooking Post


by Brenda Norrell / Southwest Staff Reporter / Indian Country Today


credits: New Mexico red chiles are a main ingredient in Laguna Pueblo business woman Debra Halland’s red chile sauce and salsa, featured in Santa Ana Pueblo’s Cooking Post online. These red chiles are at Arlo’s Fresh Produce stand in Espanola, N.M., bordertown to northern pueblos in New Mexico. (Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today)


New Mexico red chiles are a main ingredient in Laguna Pueblo business woman Debra Halland’s red chile sauce and salsa, featured in Santa Ana Pueblo’s Cooking Post online. These red chiles are at Arlo’s Fresh Produce stand in Espanola, N.M., bordertown to northern pueblos in New Mexico. (Brenda Norrell / Indian Country Today)SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. - The green shoots of blue corn are bursting through the ground on Santa Ana Pueblo and Ray Leon is in the mill grinding Osage red corn kernels from Oklahoma into flour.

In Santa Ana Pueblo’s mill, a sophisticated, high-tech machine is being readied for tea bag packaging for the American Indian Tea & Coffee Company in nearby Santa Fe.

With Native wild rice, maple syrup, salsa and deer jerky ready for shipments, Santa Ana Pueblo’s Cooking Post is providing a rare service. It is bringing Native harvests to kitchens, pow wows and restaurants across America.

The Internet has transformed what began as a mail order business based on a catalog to an Internet industry, where a savvy webmaster keeps the Cooking Post at the top of Google’s search hits.

Back in his office at Santa Ana Pueblo tribal headquarters northeast of Albuquerque, Jerry Kinsman, general manager of Santa Ana’s agricultural enterprises, displays the Cooking Post mail order catalogs. "This will probably be a collector’s item now. I doubt we’ll publish another catalog," said Kinsman of the booklet mailed out to 12,000 customers.

While the catalog cost thousands of dollars a year to produce, the Cooking Post Internet site cost only $1,000 a year to operate. "We’re planning to increase our Internet business," Kinsman said. Besides saving dollars, the Internet site can be quickly changed when there is a change in suppliers or available products.

When Santa Ana Pueblo began the business of selling their blue corn products, the pueblo didn’t realize the Cooking Post would become a wholesale business supplying rare and hard-to-find Native foods nationwide.

"We get the very large and the very small businesses," Kinsman said of the customers who range from large casinos to vendors at pow wows.

"We have mom and pop vendors that do the pow wow circuit. They don’t buy a lot and they give me a credit card number and I can ‘sit on it’ for 30 days."

Kinsman said he is always happy to pass along the contact information of his Native food producers located across the country, but most customers appreciate the ease of simply ordering all products from the Cooking Post with one purchase order.

"It started out with one casino in Michigan. They made a commitment to buy as much Native American as possible. So we went kicking and screaming into the wholesale business." With about 35 wholesale customers now, in his office, Kinsman shifts his attention from orders to blue corn recipes, then pauses to diagram a tractor repair for a Pueblo worker in the field.

What’s hot in the Cooking Post business? Hot sauce.

"We sell a fair amount of Two Flaming Arrows Hot Sauce, it’s for brave people," Kinsman said of the sauce blended from fiery cayenne, habanero and other peppers with tomatoes, garlic, orange juice, honey and spices.

"HOT!" is the singular Cooking Post description for this sauce. It comes from Pueblo Food Specialties, owned by Laguna Pueblo’s Debra Haaland. Haaland’s wooden gift crate is packed with Roasted Red Chile Sauce medium and Indian Summer Salsa hot and decorated with corn husks, pine burrs and a small collectible ceramic treasure.

"Battle of the Salsas", for serious hot salsa lovers, offers Cibolo Junction’s Southwest Style vs. Santa Ana’s own Warrior Green vs. Laguna Pueblo’s Indian summer.

"We try to get as much business as possible for our suppliers," Kinsman said, surrounded by boxes stamped with Umpqua, Potawatomi and White Earth.

When asked about Cooking Post profits for Santa Ana Pueblo, Kinsman said, "It’s a steady business. It is still self-supporting, along with the tribal farm and wholesale nursery."

From the corn fields of Santa Ana Pueblo comes the treasured Tamaya blue corn, ground in the Pueblo’s mill for their parched corn, corn meal, pancake mix and muffin and cornbread mix. The Tamaya Blue Corn Sampler offers a bag of Atole Blue Corn Drink Mix and the popular roasted parched corn snack with the other blue corn products.

Tamaya Blue is the trademark of the Blue Corn Products Division of Santa Ana Pueblo’s Agricultural Enterprises. Tamaya is the name of the tribe in its traditional Keres language.

Among the selections is the Pueblo Breakfast-in-a-Box, which includes Tamaya Blue Pancake Mix, a 16-ounce jug of Native Harvest Maple Syrup and a 2-ounce bag for a pot of Thunder Bird Thunder and Lightning Coffee. There’s also a "Chef Chef" apron included, all for $34.

The coffee comes from the Thunder Bird Trading Post of Long Island, N.Y., opened by Chief Thunder Bird and his family from the Shinnecock Tribe in 1946. The family specializes in handmade buckskin and beadwork and revived the business in 1995, adding this aromatic line of organic Mexican, El Salvadoran and Peruvian coffees.

Native Harvest, owned by the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Minnesota, produces Grade-A maple syrup harvested in the spring and hauled by horse-drawn wagon to the sugar house for cooking in a wood-fired evaporator.

Through their efforts, Anishinaabe have reclaimed more than 1,300 acres of their land. The sale of maple syrup, raspberry preserves, wild plum jelly and wild rice, helps fund the land recovery project.

Anishinaabe wild rice is harvested in canoes from indigenous lakes and certified organic. Wild rice is one of nature’s most perfect foods, high in protein, carbohydrates and fiber, but low in fat.

For chocolate lovers, the Cooking Post has added Bedre Chocolates, owned by the Chickasaw Nation in Ada, Okla. Among the taste treats are "Oklahoma Rocks", made from fresh peanuts covered in milk chocolates, Brazilian Black Ivory, with the nuts coated in milk chocolate, and Kilties Milk Chocolate with fresh roasted pecans. Since no paraffin is added for heat resistance, the chocolates are available only October through March.

For traditional staples, fry bread lovers order Woodenknife fry bread mix from Lakota in South Dakota. For savory posole stew, there’s the Red Corn family in Oklahoma’s Red Hominy Corn. Jerky, including the tasty Teriyaki jerky, comes from the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe in Oregon.

Then, from Wisconsin comes Forest County Potawatomi’s Red Deer Ranch Venison Sausage. The tribal venture is guided by elders and produces venison from the Nicolet National Forest, without growth hormones or harmful dyes. Their gift pack includes Wisconsin cheese.

Native American Herbal Teas from Aberdeen, S.D., provides Orange Pekoe Warrior’s Brew, peppermint Teepee Dreams and Indian Love Tea of ginger and ginseng. The Indian-owned company offers the Chef’s Delight of strawberry, myrtle and blackberry. Victory Tea has rose hips, known for its high Vitamin C content, combined with hibiscus, wild cherry and spearmint. Good Medicine Tea rounds out the list.

Pinon coffee is the specialty of the Hesbrook family, Lakota owners of the American Indian Tea & Coffee Company in Santa Fe. The producers of whole bean coffee blended with roasted pinon nuts also offer bulk gourmet teas, ranging from Wild Berry to Sour Cherry and Dreamcatcher.

Even though the Southwest is locked in a long drought, Kinsman said irrigation waters flowing through Santa Ana Pueblo promise a blue corn harvest in October and November. "We’ve got our fingers crossed for this year."

Back in the mill, Leon is grinding the red corn. "One guy does all that work," Kinsman said of the roasting, grinding and packaging of corn and other food products.

Kinsman is excited about two high-tech machines, one weighs food products precisely and the other is the new tea bag machine. It puts the tiny tags on the little bags, fills those with tea and places the bags in envelopes.

"It is an incredibly complex machine made in Argentina," Kinsman said.

Among the new innovations for ancient foods is the wizardry of the webmaster, Net Channel in Albuquerque, who has transformed the mail order service into an easy-to-use shopping cart system on the Cooking Post Web site.

Kinsman said Net Channel’s knowledge of how to keep Cooking Post at the top of Google search hits has been another plus for the business. Television recommendations, such as those on the Food Channel’s "Food Find", have also brought sudden surges of orders.

"The trick is to have a nice looking site and an expensive data-based ordering system, so customers can order online. And you have to have someone who understands how to market a product on the Internet," Kinsman said, pointing out that simply placing a Web page online won’t bring in customers without savvy marketing.

The final test, however, is in the taste.

To tempt your taste buds, visit

Santa Ana Pueblo, NM Map

Maps by Travel

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

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