Screenshot of website for Native Food Perspective. By Lee Egerstrom
Christina (Tina) Valtierra and Robert Blake are living proof the COVID-19 pandemic has dealt a heavy hand on Native-owned and operated businesses this past year.
Valtierra owns and operates Minneapolis-based Native Food Perspectives, a food catering and a food and nutrition education company. This catering business focuses on serving both foods and related cultural information at community events, powwows, ceremonies, weddings, graduations and church events.
All of that crashed beginning in March a year ago when the World Health Organization declared COVID to be an international pandemic. The first infections began showing up in Minnesota at about the same time. Social gatherings for any purpose were discouraged and outright banned for most of the past 12 months.
Blake owns Solar Bear LLC, a Minneapolis solar energy company that was installing solar panels in a renewable energy project at Red Lake Nation government buildings when the pandemic hit. One set of panels was installed but the rest were put in storage while Solar Bear and Red Lake wait out the threat of the virus.
“We couldn’t risk bringing people into Red Lake who might be carriers,” said Blake, who is also a Red Lake tribal member. That could happen; a crew chief for Solar Bear became infected with COVID-19 during the past year.
Valtierra understands that. She, too, has had a bout with the COVID virus. As if that wasn’t enough, she was also treated for cancer in the past year. That is now in […]