Our History

Smokin’ Bear BBQ and how it came to be has a back story that is very special to our family. The matriarch of the Oakman family was Mary Myrtle “Myrt” Mabe Oakman Lee. She was born August 27, 1931, and was an Elder in the Suquamish Tribe. Her mother, Hazel Violet Mabe, is pictured here on the reservation.

The Suquamish is one of many Native American Tribes in the Pacific Northwest on the Puget Sound in Washington state. They were experts in canoe building, basket weaving and fishing. The abundance of natural resources allowed them to be mostly autonomous. Today, most Suquamish people are enrolled in the federally recognized Suquamish Tribe a signatory to the 1855 Treaty of Point Elliott. That treaty was signed by Chief Seattle, the famous leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish Tribes for which the City of Seattle is named.

After Grandma Myrt met my grandfather, Jackie Oakman Sr., they married, moved to Ohio and had five children. Before she passed away in 2003 she was successful in getting one of her children recognized (the others followed after her passing in 2003), as Native American and member of the Suquamish Tribe. In 2016, her son, Jackie Oakman Jr. (my father), was successful, after multiple attempts in getting my sister and I recognized as tribe members. After the acceptance and for my 40th birthday, my father gave me my Native American name of “Smokin’ Bear” for obvious reasons.

As head BBQ Pitmaster, I am now living my dream after many years in corporate America. I started out smoking ribs and brisket about 8 years ago and fell in love with it. It became a passion for me and my wife, Susan, after cooking for family and friends for years. Many weekends have been spent with a messy kitchen and lots of liquids, spices and seasonings on the floor. With her side dishes and my meats, we make a pretty fantastic team. Our daughter, Payton, will be learning the ropes and making her place in the family business when the time is right.
We are excited to share our passion with this community…welcome to our reservation!!

Tyson, Susan & Payton Oakman
Established March 2018

impaktOur History