Mariah “Omahkaistaawakaakii” Gladstone is one ambitious woman. She is an aerial instructor in Kalispell, makes and sells jewelry, maintains a photography business, and most centrally these days is focused on her business, Indigikitchen.
Gladstone grew up between Helena and Kalispell with summers on Lower Saint Mary Lake. She earned a degree in environmental engineering from Columbia University and has been nationally recognized for her work dedicated to “re- indigenizing our diets using digital media.”
“I was really lucky my mom made sure I spent time in the kitchen to learn how to cook,” Gladstone says. “She would have me write down the recipes I would dream up.”
Gladstone says her father and her uncle tilled a part of the yard and built her a garden when she was a kid so she had a place to plant vegetables. From early on, she was able to experience the process of seeds turning into plants and then food.
Through Indigikitchen, Gladstone does catering, cooking classes, lectures, and trainings. For instance, she recently catered a large meal of bison sandwiches and serviceberry lemonade for the Chief Mountain bison reintroduction. Her cooking shows feature Indigenous foods and recipes geared towards strengthening cultural ties and identities.
“I am Blackfeet and Cherokee living on Blackfeet homelands,” Gladstone says, “my identity is basically built into everything I do.”
So how might someone follow in Gladstone’s adventurous footsteps? According to her, there are a growing number of resources dedicated specifically for women to learn new skills in non-judgmental spaces. For example, there are classes on becoming an outdoorswoman, hunting, and backpacking.
“And sometimes adventure is just picking up a plant book or downloading Google Lens to start learning all the plants,” she says. “I hadn’t rolled my sea kayak on Saint Mary Lake in a while, so I watched a YouTube clip to refresh; I didn’t die.”
Gladstone’s takeaway on adventure is evident in her life; find ways to follow what you’re curious about and go do it. To view a cooking class or more information, visit indigikitchen.com.