Mno-Bmadsen and Chi Ishobak have teamed up to support Pokagon and other Native American owned small businesses in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana. To encourage the Pokagon community to “Buy Native, Support Local,” a different Native American-owned small business will be featured in this newsletter every month. This month we are happy to introduce you to Bneshi Mijem LLC!
Bneshi Mijem LLC was opened in 2018 and is owned and operated by Carla and Woody Steingold. Bneshi, meaning “Bird” is named in memory of Frances Wesaw, Carla’s beloved sister. Francis was called bird as a child and Bneshi Mijem in the language is known as “Bird Food.” The business began as a mobile food vendor setting up in Native American Pow Wows throughout Michigan. Carla prepared her grandmothers frybread and Indian Tacos and woody grilled rainbow trout with wild rice served with a signature tiger sauce. This was a great way for the Steingolds to spend weekends together and involve family members in the business while attending pow wows! Bneshi Mijem also caters large events such as the Potawatomi Gathering and Eagle Staff Gatherings as well as private and corporate events. Woody is a trained chef and develops unique menus for each event. He is so passionate about food; he will even set up the Bneshi Mijem booth and cook frybread and trout right at a client’s home!
The challenge of COVID and shutting down all large and small gatherings for over a year, provided an opportunity for Bneshi Mijem to get creative with their business. To address the challenge, they created a website that allows for online ordering. Bneshi Mijem acquired a Retail Food License from MDARD which grants permission to sell packaged foods privately at farmers markets or in stores. Weekly online ordering and deliveries were consistent throughout the spring. Currently, online ordering has been put on hold as the summer months have brought an increase in private catering. Some online menu items have been bbq brisket, corned beef, rainbow trout platters, assortment of fresh salads, panko crusted chicken, pesto pasta, and more! Visit their Facebook page at bneshimijem or their website at www.bneshimijem.com to get updated with events and online ordering!
If you are interested in starting, owning, and operating your own small business like Bneshi Mijem, please register for a training through the Potawatomi Economic Gathering and reach out to Chi Ishobak for additional resources!