COLVILLE INDIAN AGENCY – At 15-years old Colville tribal member Micki Bearcub-Hudson took her first steps into the food industry working at D’Arcy Tatshama’s VideoQuest selling deli items.
Now over 20 years later, Bearcub-Hudson has come full circle.
Along with her husband Phillip Hudson, Bearcub operates Micki’s Clubhouse, a food truck serving healthy options such as sandwiches, salads and smoothies alongside local favorites like Indian tacos and powwow burgers.
“I make a batch of dough every day,” Bearcub-Hudson said for all her frybread junkies out there. “All frybread is fried to order so it’s always hot and fresh for those who want an NDN taco or powwow burger regardless of what we are selling.”
“I would recommend them for lunch,” says Colville tribal member Etta Grunlose, who works for the Colville Tribal AAOA Program. “I bought the chicken Indian taco and it was great. It was very full of the meat, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and the seasoning was delicious. The fried bread was perfect, not hard and not too soft. Easy to take a bite.”
Just before the food truck craze took off, Bearcub-Hudson was ahead of the curve, buying her truck in 2015. That same year, she started as a vendor at area powwows during the summer.
However, Bearcub-Hudson would soon be faced with a difficult choice as she found herself torn on two different paths.
“I might have opened up for regular business back then but I found myself working for the [Colville Tribal] Language Department and that too became a passion and priority, given the state of emergency for the nxaʔamxčín Language,” she said.
The husband-wife duo opened up on a regular basis in August and have managed to continue on steady with business, despite COVID-19 throwing a wrench at them.
“Because of the pandemic; no powwows, no fairs, no town festivals,” says Bearcub-Hudson. “The main challenges we face are staying safe, staying healthy and keeping our customers safe and healthy as well.”
Business has been up and down at times, but a loyal customer base has meant a lot.
“Business was good before the holidays then it slowed way down,” she said. “Since New Years things are picking back up again. We do have a loyal customer base that we appreciate so much. It’s always nice to see a new face here and there. Lets us know word of mouth is working.”
Currently Micki’s Clubhouse is in the parking lot in front of the old IHS building at the Colville Indian Agency.
“We have customers who ask us to deliver because they choose to stay home due to being high risk and we do porch drop-offs for those who are in active quarantine,” said Bearcub-Hudson. “No delivery fees whatsoever. Of course, we are open to doing more if asked. I do wish there were events we could be vending at but whenever this COVID-19 mess finally ends we will be ready to go wherever”
So what lured her back into the food industry?
“My passion for cooking,” she says. “I love learning new recipes. A lot of my cooking is trial and error. Although I’ve had other jobs, food was always my go-to. I get a lot of satisfaction from it. Knowing I put my heart into my food and people enjoy eating my food, it’s also rewarding.”
Those who she cherishes have also taught her along the way.
“My two oldest son’s late grandma Jennifer Joseph (Colville tribal elder) taught me how to make fry bread when I was 19,” Bearcub-Hudson expressed. “Took me 20 years to perfect the art but not without tips from elders like Linda Simpson and Ernie Brooks throughout the years.”
Plus she doesn’t mind too much with who she works with.
“Working with my husband is the cherry on top of it all,” she says. “He is my muscle too. Loading and unloading that heavy generator full of gas? Yeah, I couldn’t manage that if I were alone.”
But more then just heavy lifting, Hudson provides well-rounded stability.
“Phillip is my biggest motivator,” she says. “He does a majority of the prepping like marinating meats and cutting up veggies, and is also the meat cook so I can focus on everything else.”
Operating a successful food truck isn’t a cakewalk and requires discipline, but is also a passion too.
Everyday, Hudson-Bearcub has a list of various tasks that she goes over.
How much food do they need? Do they have enough supplies? Which equipment will be needed? Will we have enough gas, propane, and generator power?
“Operating a food truck on a regular basis is stressful,” she says laughing. “Takes a lot of planning. Forgetting one small detail could throw our whole day off. Yet with all that I love it. It’s one of my dreams coming true. While serving our Nespelem Community we try our best to keep our portions big, quality good, and prices small given the demographics. It’s an honor to do what I love and have my community support me back. lámlamt!! t̓il̓ iča.”