Chef Arlene Kay O’Neal, Fort Worth, Texas

Cook, Researcher, Teacher
Caddo Nation Tribal Council, Fort Cobb Representative
Fort Worth, Texas
Caddo Nation

Arlene Kay O’Neal was born in Fort Worth, Texas and is a Caddo Nation of Oklahoma councilwoman representative. O’Neal is a cook and conducts lectures and cooking demonstrations at the Caddo Mounds Historic Site operated by the Texas Historical Commission. She was also an integral part of getting the Indian Education platform off the ground in the mid 70’s in the Dallas Fort Worth area. Tejas is the Spanish spelling of a Caddo word taysha, which means “friend” or “ally”. In the 17th century the Spanish knew the westernmost Caddo peoples as “the great kingdom of Tejas” and the name lived on to become the name of the 28th state of the United States—Texas. In 1859 the Caddo people were driven by force to Oklahoma but they return annually to their Texas homelands. The Caddo Mounds Historic Site has developed strong ties and collaborations with the Caddo Nation.

O’Neal’s foraging and cooking native ingredients have involved Salads: Corn salad, wild lettuce, dandelion greens, pink primrose flowers and farmer’s cheese. Pokeweed: young pokeweed leaves are collected, boiled the traditional three times, then sautéed in butter with more wild onions, dandelion hearts, and greenbriar. Tea: roasted dandelion roots, dandelion flowers, crimson clover flowers, and white clover flowers.

The Caddo Mounds Historic site was destroyed by a tornado in 2019, but is rebuilding. O’Neal declares: “Our spirit is still whole and intact and we’re thriving as a people and we’re going forward with this.”