Someone You Should Know: Sharing his culture & food throughout Sioux Falls

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 4:58 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - This week’s Someone You Should Know is a man who is passionate about sharing his food and culture with Sioux Falls.

Lawrence West has always gravitated toward food, community, and entrepreneurship.

“I grew up in my home having this sort of food around all the time, so a joke around my house amongst my brothers is that I was always in trouble, so I had to stay in the kitchen with the grandmas, and that’s how I learned to cook so good,” West said.

He started with a food truck and then entered the restaurant scene with different reviews.

“There’s a lot of Native Americans who don’t believe that we should hold positions of power, that we aren’t there yet, we don’t deserve it, it’s unheard of. I’m absolutely here to shatter that mold,” West said.

“Failure is one hundred percent intertwined with success and business, and if you’re afraid to fail, you’ll never be successful,” West said.

As a fusion restaurant, Watecha Bowl offers traditional Native American and pow-wow-styled fair food.

“It’s a way for our people to come together,” said Sheree Lacey, manager of Watecha Bowl. “You know a lot of people have thoughts and stigmas towards our culture and people. To provide a place different from what they think.”

He runs the business with family and friends.

“LT is like my brother — since the first day I started here he’s treated me like family,” Sheree said.

He strives to create a safe place for the community to ask questions and learn about his culture.

“I created this space because, as a sovereign Native American out in the world, I didn’t know where to start, anywhere to go or people to talk to ask for resources,” West said. “I jumped into the Native American business space in hopes that it would attract elders and teachers and people to come in and teach me so that I can soak up, and my customers can soak up. We have beaders and quillers and people that do artwork in here all the time, and we are exposing the people to as much art and culture as we can.”

West hopes to inspire others from his community.

“Regardless of how history played out, regardless of how people feel, the world is progressing,” West said. “We as Native Americans don’t find our niche, we don’t get in there and start representing as CEOs, as relators, positions of authority and decision-making, and sovereign. There’s no tribe behind me. There’s no check behind me. There’s nobody behind me.”

He wants to keep improving, learning and growing, excited to branch out into other ventures and franchise Watecha Bowl.

“The thing that I realized is that I am Watecha Bowl — my heart, my beliefs, what I do, how I love the food, how I love the interactions, me, my spirit is Watecha Bowl,” West said.