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Native American Natural Foods CEO invited to President's announcement on small business credit crisis

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President Obama reaches to shake CEO Karlene Hunter's hand

KYLE, S.D., March 17, 2009 -- When President Barack Obama announced his administration's plans Monday for helping small business owners through the worsening credit crisis, Karlene Hunter, CEO of Native American Natural Foods of Kyle, S.D., was front and center at the White House.

Hunter, who was contacted by a White House aide Friday about flying to Washington, D.C., for Monday's announcement, said the invitation was completely unexpected.

"I was so surprised to be chosen," said Hunter, who was one of only five small business owners invited to attend the announcement in person. "Needless to say, I rearranged my schedule in a hurry."

Hunter, whose company is based in Kyle, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, was accompanied to the White House by her business partner, Mark Tilsen Sr. Hunter said the hasty trip was well worth the effort.

"During these challenging economic times, it's inspirational to have a president who recognizes the important role of small business and the need to support the healthy, natural food industry," she said.

Tilsen, who is president of Native American Natural Foods, said the East Room of the White House was packed with banking officials, senators, members of Congress and the press.

"We were excited that President Obama chose a leader from the natural food industry to introduce him at this important event, and it was an honor to be able to participate in this announcement," Tilsen said. "It gives us hope that more people will be able learn about the Tanka Bar and add it to their lives."

The Tanka Bar, which is available nationally at nearly 2,000 retail locations and at, is a modern artisanal take on a traditional Native American recipe for "wasna" or "pemmican," which has been described by many nutritionists as the perfect energy food. The 100 percent natural bar is 70 calories and 1.5 grams of fat per 1 ounce serving, with no trans fats.

Native American Natural Foods, which is based in Kyle, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, provides a category of natural healthy products by adding value to traditional Native food products, using modern scientific methods, the least amount of processing, and the lowest-stress animal handling methods possible.


For more information, photos or a full press kit, please call Linda Crider at 214-789-8642 or e-mail Linda at