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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Osages Win First, People's Choice Awards At National Indian Taco Championship
by Benny Polacca - Osage News
Oct. 9, 2015Jackie McCann and Paul Mays expressed thankfulness following their first-ever win in this year's National Indian Taco Championship in Pawhuska.
From left: Third place Kendall Allen, Second place Garner Lieb and First place Jackie McCann, Paul Mays, People's Choice Award winners Dana Daylight, Mary Wildcat and Jacque Jones. (photo by Benny Polacca - Osage News)

Both Osages and their families operated "Many Horses NDN Food" booth at the annual cooking competition where they cooked food for sale to the public and for the three rounds of judging, which determined the first, second and third place winners.

McCann and Mays split the $1,500 first place prize money they won that day. Second place ($1,000) went to Garner Lieb and third place ($500) to Kendall Allen. In the separate competition for the People's Choice Award, the "Osage Sisters" food booth operated by Dana Daylight, Jacque Jones and Mary Wildcat won that prize for the third consecutive year.

"Many Horses NDN Food" is the first Osage food booth to win the National Indian Taco Championship title in two years. Ramona Horsechief (Pawnee/ Cherokee) won the title in 2014 and 2013 and Debra Lookout (Osage) won first place in 2012.

McCann believes their win is thanks to the combined efforts made to create their Indian taco plate with her not-too crispy golden frybread and Mays's chili meat and beans. She also said feedback from friends and family also helped them customize the recipe for their Indian tacos.

"It's awesome and it's been a blessing," McCann said of her win. "From the beginning, when (the results were announced) they called third place, our fingers were crossed, second place, we started getting long-faced at that point. When they said ‘and we have a new champion!' (and called their food booth), I said ‘oh my gosh!' and jumped up."

Mays also expressed gratitude for the win, despite obstacles such as running out of flour for frybread, so they had a backup of hungry customers waiting for more bread to be cooked. Mays's recipe for the toppings was served at the Roan Horse Arena for years and Mays said he "tweaked" it for a more traditional flavor.

"Jackie's awesome frybread was the perfect choice. We didn't expect to win, but we hoped everyone would enjoy our effort. We can't give our secrets away – we will be back next year!" he said.

For the top three place judging, the Indian taco dishes faced two rounds of judging, as well as a "celebrity judge" round where invited locals and public officials sampled the dishes before writing their scores on pieces of paper. This year's celebrity judge panel included Osage Nation Assistant Principal Chief Raymond Red Corn, Tulsa TV News on 6 reporter Tess Maune, Pawhuska Mayor Mark Buchanan, newly hired Pawhuska High football coach Chad KillsCrow and local Osage culinary chef and caterer Brian Lookout.

Now in its 11th year, the annual NITC event is held in downtown Pawhuska on Kihekah Ave., north of the Triangle Building with nearly one dozen participating food booths set-up on the east and west sides of the building. Judges reported to a vacant building where they were presented unidentified Indian taco plates from each of the competing booths. The judges sampled each dish and entered scores for each plate that were used to tabulate and determine the top three finishers.

The Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce hosts the competition with sponsors including the Osage Nation and Osage Casino. A Native American dance competition also took place with dancers performing for the spectators who socialized as they waited in lines at the food booths.

In the People's Choice Award Contest spectators sign up and pay a fee to sample tacos from the contestant booths and score their best choices to determine the winner for the $1,000 prize.

"I really enjoy and look forward to participating in the Indian Taco contest especially with my sisters. This is our third year winning the People's Choice Award and we are humbled so many took time to vote for us for the people's favorite Indian taco," Jones said. "I would like to thank all who voted for us and we are looking forward to next year."

The 2016 National Indian Taco Championship date is set for Oct. 1 again in downtown Pawhuska.

For more photos of the 2015 NITC, visit the Osage News photo album at:

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