chickee talk by Tina Marie Osceola


I wish there was technology that allowed me to share the pleasure of eating fry bread with you. The pleasure of the crispy crust and the pillowy inside of a good piece of fry bread is unmatched by anything I’ve ever had. Those of you who have been to the Everglades Seafood Festival know that, although seafood is the draw to that little town that was once our county seat, the lines for Iona’s Fry Bread are longer than any other. However, the number of fry bread vendors from the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes are numerous and, depending on who you ask, everyone has their favorite! Some are known for their fried pumpkin bread and others are known for the best chili on top of the Indian Taco. Others are known for the best pie filling stuffed inside the steaming hot piece of bread as soon as it comes out of the fryer!

I grew up in a family known for their yummy menu. In the early 1970’s my grandma, aunt, and father began traveling to fairs, carnivals, pow wows, and arts and crafts festivals across the country as “O.B.’s Fry Bread.” We had people waiting for us to set up so they could order their favorite stuffed fry bread. Most Indian Tacos are served on a plate with toppings piled high and you need a fork and knife (and lots of napkins) to enjoy or savor each bite… But my family started stuffing the fry bread so that people could walk around and eat their food. Brilliant!

As much as all of us in Florida would like to think we have the best fry bread, almost every tribe in the nation has their own favorite vendors/chefs. I remember traveling to a pow wow in South Dakota and trying a “Big A—Indian Taco!” Yes, that was the name of the booth… “BIG A__ Indian Tacos” (you fill in the blanks). When we used to stay in Oklahoma during the summer folks would walk around the pow wow grounds with little Styrofoam coolers stuffed with “Meat Pies.” They really hit the spot!

Fry Bread is more than just something to eat. It really has become an icon of American Indian, Native American, tribal culture. There are memes, t-shirts, gifs, Facebook groups, social media tags, and so much merchandise centered around those little pillows of deliciousness. When I decided to write an article about fry bread, I asked my friends on Facebook to send me pics of themselves cooking fry bread, eating fry bread, or of their favorite fry bread. I really enjoyed what I got in return. One long-time friend, Michael Nephew, sent me a photo of himself holding a piece of fry bread while wearing his favorite fry bread t-shirt. Another sent me a photo of chef Paul Wahlberg, preparing fry bread hamburgers at the Mescalero Apache’s Inn of the Mountain Gods, in southern New Mexico. Court Standing Bear, a local chef from the Lakota people, shared a photo of his fry bread that you can enjoy at the Flamingo Island flea market on Bonita Beach Road!

Fry Bread is also a reason to come together and a way to share tradition. Grandmas, moms, and aunties share their techniques with young people. In our Tribe, young people are taught how to make fry bread over an open fire under cook chickees. My niece, Samantha Hisler, sent a photo with her two daughters covered in flour, learning how to make Indian burgers. Indian burgers are fry bread dough stuffed with seasoned ground beef and onions and then deep fried into golden flavor bombs. The conversations and stories told while being taught how to cook are an invaluable way to preserve culture and teach language. The Seminole Tribe has culture programs on each reservation and in communities. We also have a tribal wide language program that has taken on the task of preservation and education. Fry Bread has become the magnet that draws people together, regardless of tribe, regardless of culture.

Tina Osceola


If you have never tried fry bread, wait in the lines! It’s worth it!


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