Native American Heritage Month: Off the Rez Food Truck and Café

In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, we are hosting a series of profiles and stories to amplify and honor people, businesses, organizations, stories, and projects connected to Seattle’s Indigenous community.

Mark McConnell grew up eating traditional recipes made by his mother on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. Now in Seattle, he and his partner, Cecilia Rikard, are the owners of the well-loved Off the Rez Food Truck and Off the Rez Café at the Burke Museum. They have blended flavors from their Native heritage, such as frybread and succotash, to make fusion dishes like Indian tacos, quinoa salad, and Powwow burgers.  

Within the menu, frybread takes center stage. But that food has a history in Native American culture that doesn’t match the simple enjoyment that comes from sinking your teeth into a piece of warm, fried dough. Frybread was invented by the Navajo in 1844 and was born out of the limited government rations offered to the Navajo people when they were forced to make their 300-mile journey to New Mexico. What can you make out of flour, sugar, salt and lard? Frybread! It has since become a staple of many Native American tribes and a symbol of both oppression and resilience. 

colorful frybread tacos placed on a wood table

In addition to a lot of love from Seattleites (and visitors from far and wide), Off the Rez is also the most requested food truck among the inmates at the Washington Correctional Facility in Shelton. They were the first truck to be invited into the prison to serve delicious meals to inmates, bringing some comfort and hospitality to men serving out their sentences there.  They donated the proceeds from that event to the Chief Seattle Club. 

You can find Off the Rez at the Burke Museum or stay informed about their food truck locations on Facebook