Crystal Wahpepah

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Crystal Wahpepah is an enrolled member of the Kickapoo nation of Oklahoma Sack and Fox Nation . She was born and raised in Oakland, California, on Ohlone land, surrounded by a multi-tribal, tight-knit, urban Native community. Crystal’s objectives for Wahpepah’s Kitchen are threefold: (1) to acknowledge that we live on stolen land; and (2) how that acknowledgement connects to the reclamation of Native food ways (food sovereignty); as well as (3) to educate communities and organizations on the health benefits of Native food ways using the knowledge passed onto her.

Although it’s impossible to boil down the cultural food ways of 600 federally recognized tribes across the country into a single statement (Native Americans are not a monolith), something many nations have in common is the sharing of food and caring for each other in a community setting. Crystal has observed and participated in her cultural food ways since she was a small child. Her work cannot be separated from her culture or identity as a Native American woman, daughter, grand-daughter, niece, aunt, mother and community member.

In addition to Crystal’s inimitable experience with food in ancestral and community settings, Crystal has received extensive training from prominent organizations in Oakland and San Francisco on how to run her business. She received the Indigenous Artist Activist Award and has been inducted into the Native American Almanac for being one of the first Native American women to own a catering business in Oakland, Ca. In 2016, she was the first Native American Chef to compete in the Food Network’s show, Chopped. Crystal has also been featured in Oaklandside.

Crystal does not merely cater events and go—she speaks on where her food comes from and honors its roots, its Indigenous cultivators and stewards and its place within the seasons. This is why you will always see diversity in her food, because Wahpepah’s Kitchen honors the seasons with changing menus and product availability. Crystal’s creations through food and community shine with joy, lightness of heart, and are led by a solid internal compass.

Crystal has catered and done educational talks in many forums that span local community settings, the tech world, non-profit organizations and educational institutions. Crystal has worked with the American Indian film festival, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Salesforce, WeWork, UC Berkeley, Cal Poly, UCSF and the National Indian Health Board. This is a small sample that illustrates the diversity of Crystal’s reach. She has traveled all over the country attending food summits and building networks with other Native American and Indigenous farmers, land stewards and chefs.

Crystal values deeply the reciprocal practices of mindfully choosing Indigenous food sources with which she creates her cuisine. Her ingredients come from people and lands to which she is connected and has a relationship. She views her business as a portal to food sovereignty and a reclamation of ancestral knowledge in Native and Indigenous communities. Crystal has plans for herself and her community that give voice and claim ground for an ethical and sustainable way to nourish ourselves on this planet.

Crystal has also been featured in Oaklandside and on Broken Bread season 2.

 

Photo credit: Jean Melesaine 

Spokesperson
Author
  1. Julia Dzafic

  2. Muhammad Abdul-Hadi

  3. Jaíne Mackievicz

  4. Tamarind Tree

  5. Monti Carlo

  6. Shelley Rahim

  7. Justin Burke

  8. Beejhy Barhany

  9. Amethyst Ganaway

  10. Crystal Wahpepah

  11. Sammy Monsour and Kassady Wiggins

  12. Sapna Punjabi Gupta, MS, RDN, LD

  13. Lauren Stauble

  14. Alyssa Campbell

  15. Sonya Sanford

  16. Michele Song

  17. Judi Leib

  18. Natalie Rizzo, MS, RD

  19. Crystal Wilkinson

  20. Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack

  21. Pam Victor

  22. Frankie Gaw

  23. Jessica Formicola

  24. Brian Noyes

  25. Lori Shaw

  26. Matthew Raiford

  27. Amy Paige Condon

  28. Mark Bologna

  29. Julia Skinner, PhD

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  31. Jerry L. Wyckoff, Ph.D.

  32. Cynthia Graubart

  33. Angela Garbacz

  34. Haile Thomas

  35. Maria Hines

  36. Eventide Oyster Co.

  37. Bobbi Wegner

  38. Philia Kelnhofer

  39. Lauren Toyota

  40. Elizabeth Sims

  41. Laura Bashar

  42. Matthew Prescott

  43. Keith Pandolfi

  44. Todd Richards

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  46. Erika Council

  47. Leah Segedie

  48. Stephanie Weaver

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  51. Ford Fry

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  56. Anne Willan

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  57. Dan Whalen

  58. Jeff Weiss

  59. Katie Webster

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  61. Andreas Viestad

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  62. Barbara Unell

  63. Toni Tipton-Martin

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  64. Lauren Keiper Stein

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  65. Ana Sortun

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  66. Natalie Slater

  67. Miyoko Schinner

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  68. Jeanne Sauvage

    Jeanne Sauvage

  69. Yukari Sakamoto

    Yukari Sakamoto

  70. Betty Rosbottom

  71. Jennie Ripps & Maria Littlefield

  72. Lisa Boalt Richardson

  73. A.J. Rathbun

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  74. Anne Quatrano

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  75. Neka Pasquale

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  76. Kim O’Donnel

  77. Brittany Nickerson

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  78. June Naylor

  79. Kathy Moore & Roxanne Wyss

  80. Irv Miller

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  84. Perre Coleman Magness

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  85. Yvonne Maffei

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  86. Ronni Lundy

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  87. Cindy Littlefield

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  88. Phoebe Lapine

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  89. Allyson Kramer

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  90. Steven Kolpan

  91. Jennifer Justus

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  92. David Joachim

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  93. Lisa Howard

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  94. beth hillson

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  95. Kathy Hester

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  96. Bob & Mary Lou Heiss

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  97. Chris & Idie Hastings

  98. Julie Hasson

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  99. Will Harris

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  100. Sandra A. Gutierrez

  101. Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn

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  102. Lisa Fetterman

  103. Judith Fertig

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  104. Carol Fenster

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  105. Sandy D'Amato

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  106. Fran Costigan

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  108. Kristina Bucaram

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  110. Stacie Billis

  111. Maria Baez Kijac

    Maria Baez Kijac

  112. Nava Atlas

    Nava Atlas

  113. Elizabeth Andoh

    Elizabeth Andoh

  114. Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, FAND

  115. Karen Adler

    Karen Adler

  116. Debbie Adler

  117. Kevin Gillespie


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