Hillel Echo-Hawk (she/her; Pawnee and Athabaskan) is an Indigenous chef, caterer and speaker born and raised in the interior of Alaska around the Athabaskan village of Mentasta––home to the matriarchal chief and subsistence rights activist, Katie John. Watching John and other Indigenous Peoples’ fight for food sovereignty, as well as seeing her mother strive to make healthy, home-cooked meals for her and her six siblings, has given Hillel a unique and important perspective on diet and wellness. After receiving her degree in Culinary Arts from Seattle Central College, Echo-Hawk has been working as a cook in some of Seattle’s most innovative and popular restaurants for several years.
As the owner of Birch Basket, her food and work has been featured in multiple national and international media sources; Including James Beard, Bon Appetit, Eater, Huffpost, National Geographic, PBS, Vogue, The Seattle Times, and many, many more. Hillel has spoken at various conferences on Indigenous food sovereignty and its intersections with social justice, colonialisms, and environmental injustice. She provides catering and private chef services, with menu’s consisting of pre-colonial, Indigenous ingredients, paired with both traditional and modern techniques, and the stories of the people and the land that the food tells.
Hillel has a passion for local, ethically sourced and sustainable foods, all through an Indigenous lens and perspective. Echo-Hawk is dedicated to the food sovereignty of Native peoples and is committed to empowering all Indigenous Peoples by increasing knowledge of an access to traditional diets and foods. It is her strong belief that food should feed not only the body, but the spirit of the entire community.
Hillel is a proud member of the I-Collective, an autonomous group of Indigenous chefs, activists, herbalists, seed, and knowledge keepers. Hillel is a sister, aunt, daughter, and active member of her community.