Native American Natural Foods, LLC, is focused on creating a family
of nationally branded food products that are delicious and that
promote a Native American way of wellness that feeds mind, body,
Beginning with its first product
line, which features Tanka Bar™,
Tanka Bite™, and Tanka Trail™, Native American Natural
Foods provides a category of natural healthy choices in the marketplace
that currently does not exist. By adding value to traditional Native
using modern scientific methods and the least amount of processing
possible, Native American Natural Foods innovates value-added products
the U.S. consumer marketplace.
Founded in 2005 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, owners Karlene
Hunter and Mark Tilsen imagine a world filled with healthy foods
that add to the restoration and preservation of our lands and ecosystem
-- a world without the pain of starvation or obesity. The world
they imagine embraces the lifestyle that Native American people
lived just over a century ago.
The vision at Native American Natural
Foods is not to go back to a traditional way of life but to bring
the heritage of wisdom from
the Native American traditional healthy lifestyle into the 21st
century and into the lives of those who share that vision.
In addition to online ordering via the company’s
easy-to-use web site,
www.tankabar.com, the Tanka™ product line will be available
in a variety of convenience stores, grocery stores, natural food
stores and specialty markets across the country.
KARLENE HUNTER is CEO and co-founder of Native American Natural
Foods. A member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Ms. Hunter has more
than 25 years of experience working on educational and economic
development on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, where
Native American Natural Foods is based. The Kyle, S.D., company,
founded with her longtime business partner Mark Tilsen, is the
second business Ms. Hunter has started on the reservation.
In 1996, Ms. Hunter and Mr. Tilsen
created Lakota Express, a direct marketing and customer care
management company. Focused primarily on fund-raising
for non-profit organizations, Ms. Hunter has led the direct marketing
campaign for Oglala Lakota College for more than 21 years. More
than $25 million has been raised under Ms. Hunter’s leadership,
including raising the funds for the establishment of the first
library on the reservation and the creation of new college centers
in each of the nine districts on Pine Ridge.
Well-known throughout the Native American community for her local
service record, Ms. Hunter serves on the Board of Directors of
the National Center
for American Indian Enterprise Development. She has also served
on the Board of Directors for the Native American Rights Fund;
the National Indian Business Association; and the Pine Ridge Area
Chamber of Commerce.
Ms. Hunter, who holds an MBA from Oglala Lakota College, has received
numerous awards, including the 2007 SBA Minority Business Woman
of the Year for South Dakota.
Recognized in 2003 as one of the 100 Best Minority Suppliers by
Business Network, Ms. Hunter received the National Director’s
in 2006 from then-Department of Commerce Secretary Ronald Langston.
She has also been awarded the President Harry S. Truman Foundation
Scholarship; Indian Business Woman of the Year from the National
Indian Business Association; and the Rising Star Award from the
Business Women's Network and Diversity Best Practices.
MARK TILSEN is President of Native American Natural Foods and a
business partner with Karlene Hunter in Lakota Express, Inc., a
direct marketing and customer care management company. Mr. Tilsen
has more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit fundraising,
marketing community development, and 18 years in special events
marketing and productions.
A recipient of numerous marketing awards, most recently, Mr. Tilsen
and Lakota Express were featured as the lead story in the Mal Warwick
Associates newsletter, Successful Direct Mail, Telephone and Online
A lifelong supporter of Native American causes, Mr. Tilsen began
working as a volunteer in 1973 for the Wounded Knee Defense Offense
Committee, which his parents co-founded. Since that time, he has
honed his skills coordinating award-winning, database-driven direct
marketing campaigns that have raised more than $25 million for
Native American educational and environmental organizations. He
also serves on the Advisory Board of the Seva Foundation, an organization
focused on alleviating suffering caused by disease and poverty.
Mr. Tilsen has co-founded several successful community organizations
and businesses, including: