Wan Woihamble Tanka, A Big Dream

June 28, 2009

Wan Woihamble Tanka, A Big Dream
All things are connected like the blood that unites us. We did not weave the web of life; we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. -- Chief Seattle

People often ask me what I do, and I tell them I run the MySpace for Tanka Bar and I'm an online customer representative. I sometimes help people place orders and answer questions about our products and our company.

Those are my duties, but I feel my real role is in articulating the possibilities that are part of Tanka. In the few blogs I have written, I have tried to honor and present positive people and organizations from our community that I feel symbolize what Tanka is about.

Thunder Valley, Tusweca Tiospaye, Beau LeBeaux, Floyd Westerman, Uncle John Around Him. These are some of the people in my community that represent the best of the best in Indian Country.

When I think of Tanka, the message I reflect on most is one of greatness and transformation. It is my belief as we grow stronger as individuals and communities, we are doing our part of making a better world.

Every choice we make influences the world around us, and it is up to us to decide if we leave a positive or negative impact. Pretty over the top and grandiose for a snack bar, eh?

If we fail at being a successful company, nothing happens. People will shake their heads and tell us we gave it our best shot. If we are successful, though, things begin to change a little bit. One of the interesting things about Tanka Bars is that we don't really have to push them too much. Once people try them, they sell themselves.

How is this all connected?

We have this beautiful dream of a healthy world filled with strong nations living with respect for themselves, each other, and Unci Maka Mother Earth.

Right now, we are a new business with great food and a big dream. But how does this one food lead to the dream? It is my hope to cover many issues, and this is a small preview of the topics I hope to address:

The Buffalo

As more and more people hear about us, they'll want to try out the Tanka Bar. We will sell more Tanka Bars and we will buy more buffalo and cranberries to make them. The buffalo are looking us right in the face telling us that they are here for us.

All we have to do is let them be part of our lives and almost immediately we begin becoming stronger. When the buffalo return to the land, they bring back all sorts of wildlife with them and the grasses and land become more vibrant and full of life.

The buffalo are a people and remember the medicines they need when they are sick. They only eat when they are hungry, and they drink water with respect to all the other animals that need water to survive. They only take what they need.

I will talk to different people from my community to help us all better understand the incredible power and beauty of the Buffalo Nation.

The Economy

For Pine Ridge, it will mean a few more jobs as our team expands. We will have a healthy Native food in stores across the country, but what will that mean for all of us? We are the first Native brand that will go from our reservations to being in storefronts across the country. After that, the sky is the limit for us.

If we look at the models of the most successful companies, their real value is in their brands, not just in the machinery of their plants and the things they own. It's their brands that represents who they are.

What we are trying to do is work within the new mind-frame of business. The old way of doing business was to open a plant and hope to get contracts for it. What we are doing is something truly unique in Indian Country.

When people think of Indians and economics, they typically think of casinos and the fact that we don't pay taxes. Both are inaccurate portrayals of the true economics on most of our lands. Every time Natives have tried to advance our economy, there have been systematic and institutional obstacles.

We are doing our best to overcome all of these. We are not just making snacks here. We are creating a new way of doing business in Indian Country. Over time, I hope to visit with leaders of enterprise from our Native communities and share their stories of struggle and triumph.

The Environment

We are now living in a very exciting and frightening time for our planet and all of its people. Yesterday, the temperature was 50 degrees and now it is zero. Over the weekend, there were winds in the state clocked at more than 100 miles an hour. This wouldn't be shocking if it was tornado season, but it is the middle of winter.

We are now living in a world where Global warming should not be debated, it is a fact for any of us who can remember what normal weather looks like. How we live our lives deeply affects our world. What future are we leaving for our children with our environment in such a delicate state?

It seems that the only motivator to really change our society is money, and I am not sure that this is entirely a bad thing. If the world was motivated by morality, we would see people doing their best to only buy what they need. And companies would be investing in technology to safely maintain and grow our economy, but that is not case.

The green movement is a growing phenomenon and some of our native communities are leading the pack with innovative ideas and strategies to create sustainable energy and housing for our people.


When I think of health, I usually think of not being sick and being able to perform my daily tasks with ease. The more I learn about the Lakota perspective on health, the more my thinking changes.

A man can be strong in body, but if he does not balance his heart and spirit, that is not true health. There is a deep connection between mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. I am not the healthiest person myself, but it is a journey and not just a destination.

These are just some of the topics I wish to cover in the coming months, and I am open to ideas. Chances are, there will be some things we talk about that will fall outside of the few topics I list here.

If you'd like to write a piece for Tanka Bar, drop us a line and we will visit about it.


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