NAICCO Food Truck Helps Guide Mission
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ty Smith is a tribal member of the Confederate Tribes of Warm Springs Oregon.
Opportunity brought Smith and his wife Masami to Ohio, where they operated the Native American Center of Central Ohio (NAICCO) for 11 years.
Last summer, the Smiths added the NAICCO Cuisine food truck to the mix, offering Native American street food, as well as a presence in the community.
“It’s viability, it’s us who raise awareness. It’s us who allow our presence to be here and to be recognized,” Smith said.
Mariah Simplicio is a graduate student at Ohio State University and originally from New Mexico.
She is part of the NAICOO food trailer team that serves everything from fry bread to buffalo burgers and taco bowls.
Simplicio said that despite being thousands of miles from New Mexico, her fellow NAICOO members make her feel at home.
“It’s really nice to have a sense of community and to feel connected to other Indigenous people who aren’t exactly where I’m from, but who share similar values and traditions,” Simplicio said.
For the Smiths, NAICCO will continue to focus on three pillars: social and economic development and cultural preservation and restoration.
The organization has already raised over $140,000 to purchase 20 acres of land before developing the land into a community gathering space.
“How do you work the land? How to get in tune with nature? How do we integrate our teachings from all the different inter-tribal peoples that are represented within our community, that we are moving in the same direction,” Smith said. “And ultimately it’s about how to do this in a way that has integrity, it’s honoring our past. It’s really kind of like stepping forward into the present moment.”
NAICCO hopes to raise $250,000 before the end of 2022.
All proceeds from the food truck will go to programming and #LandBackNAICCO country.