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From left: Herseth Sandlin, Hunter, Tilsen, Gambrell, Johnson

Tanka Bar illustrates success story at CDFI funding announcement

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Kyle, S.D., July 1, 2009 -- When a group of political leaders gathered in tiny Kyle, S.D., Wednesday to announce $11.3 million in funding for distressed native communities, there was one business that all of them used to illustrate the project's potential.

Native American Natural Foods CEO Karlene Hunter was front and center when Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., and Department of the Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund Director Donna J. Gambrell announced the awarding of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and CDFI monies to native communities across the country.

"I had no idea I would be asked to speak today," said Hunter, who was the only business leader asked to take part in the event. "I was invited to attend the announcement, but I'm thrilled that Native American Natural Foods and the Tanka Bar was used to illustrate a success story in native America."

Johnson, who started his speech by saying he was happy to be in Kyle, the home of the Tanka Bar, said the group was on Pine Ridge Reservation to recognize projects that have a proven track record. Johnson said the funding was aimed at supporting CDFIs and businesses, like Native American Natural Foods, that are reducing poverty one loan and one business at a time.

The CDFI Fund helps promote access to capital and local economic growth in urban and rural low-income communities across the nation.

Gambrell, who chose Kyle's Lakota Funds building as the location for the announcement, said, "These Native CDFIs are transforming their communities by helping to create businesses and needed jobs, provide affordable housing and build vital community facilities in places that desperately need them.

"They are providing personal financial education and developing business skills in communities that have been excluded from our nation's economic mainstream and they are helping to change the lives of the people they serve."

During her speech, Hunter thanked Johnson, Herseth Sandlin and Gambrell for their support. "We've been working really hard to launch a national brand from the reservation. Without the CDFI fund and the support of people like all of you, our growth wouldn't have been possible."

Following the announcement, the guests stopped at Tanka Headquarters to try a Tanka Dog, the company's new 100 percent natural buffalo hot dog.

Out of the 26 native institutions selected, there are five South Dakota-based award recipients: First Nations Oweesta Corp. (Rapid City); Mazaska Owecaso Otipi Financial, Inc. (Pine Ridge); The Lakota Funds (Kyle); Four Bands Community Fund, Inc. (Eagle Butte); and The Harvest Initiative, Inc. (Fort Thompson).

The Tanka Bar, which is available nationally at about 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.


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