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?ál?al Café in Seattle to feature Native foods, artwork

The café is blending healthy ingredients with native culinary traditions.

SEATTLE — A first-of-its-kind Indigenous foods café is coming to Pioneer Square.   

The ʔálʔal Café, which opens to the public Tuesday, will introduce traditional Indigenous foods in a modern café setting.

“Food is extremely personal for Native folks," said café manager and chef Anthony Johnson. "It's directly tied to a lot of our origin stories and our identities."

The café is owned and operated by the nonprofit Chief Seattle Club, and 100% of the profits go back into the organization. It’s located on the ground floor of the housing complex ʔálʔal, which offers affordable housing for Native people. ʔálʔal is the Lushootseed word for “home.”

The café will feature authentic Indigenous recipes and ingredients from various regions across the country, like Great Plains bison and Northwest salmon.

One of the café's largest goals is to promote acceptance and visibility of Indigenous foods and culture.

“Our bodies remember and our soul remembers, and we’re able to start to peel back some of those layers of genocide and colonization and heal, you know, both from a spiritual level, but also from a physical level,” Johnson said. “It's beautiful.”

The café space itself is also a visual feast of authentic Native artwork curated specifically for the space. The current exhibit for winter themes around rest, according to the café’s website.

Credit: KING
A mural that will be displayed in the ʔálʔal Café shows the change from a traditional Native world on the left to a modern world on the right.

“I wanted this mural to kind of again, identify the change of worlds from a traditional Native world, which is on the left side,” said artist Roger Fernandez. “And he's the pivotal piece, identifying the changing world to a new world where we live in a city, but we still have many elements of our culture still around us.”


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