food systems

New reporting project focuses on Indigenous food sovereignty in the Columbia River Basin

Producer
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Year

There’s no official definition for the term “food sovereignty,” but the Indian Affairs Bureau describes it as “the ability of communities to determine the quantity and quality of the food that they consume by controlling how their food is produced and distributed.”

Portland-based news outlet Underscore recently tackled the topic in a new series. The Food Sovereignty Project features stories of Indigenous communities rebuilding food systems, reclaiming traditional foods and practices and preserving that knowledge for future generations.

Project co-director Nicole Charley joins us to talk more about the series, along with freelance writer Leah Altman, who contributed two stories to the project.

Image: Farmland on Sauvie Island in early summer (Matvyei/English Wikipedia)

Transcript is available at the resource link.

Archaeology and Social Justice in Native America

Year

Over the past 20 years, collaboration has become an essential aspect of archaeological practice in North America. In paying increased attention to the voices of descendant and local communities, archaeologists have become aware of the persistent injustices these often marginalized groups face. Building on growing calls for a responsive and engaged cultural heritage praxis, this forum article brings together a group of Native and non-Native scholars working at the nexus of history, ethnography, archaeology, and law in order to grapple with the role of archaeology in advancing social justice. Contributors to this article touch on a diverse range of critical issues facing Indigenous communities in the United States, including heritage law, decolonization, foodways, community-based participatory research, and pedagogy. Uniting these commentaries is a shared emphasis on research practices that promote Indigenous sovereignty and self-determination. In drawing these case studies together, we articulate a sovereignty-based model of social justice that facilitates Indigenous control over cultural heritage in ways that address their contemporary needs and goals.

Resource Type
Citation

Laluk, N., Montgomery, L., Tsosie, R., McCleave, C., Miron, R., Carroll, S., . . . Schneider, T. (2022). Archaeology and Social Justice in Native America. American Antiquity, 1-24. doi:10.1017/aaq.2022.59

The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Access for Alaska Natives in 2020

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This chapter in the NOAA Arctic Report Card 2021 highlights:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated existing challenges for Alaska Natives in accessing traditional and store-bought foods.
  • The strength of Indigenous cultural and economic practices such as food sharing networks helped mitigate these challenges.
  • Policies and programs that support access to traditional foods and Indigenous sovereignty strengthen the ability of individuals and communities to respond to significant events that break down supply chains and restrict mobility.

The COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of the 2020 Nay'dini'aa Na'Kayax' (Chickaloon Native Village) culture camp, which had been held annually for the previous 20 summers—or since time immemorial, as the formal camp continued a tradition of gathering to share food, stories, and knowledge. The previous summer, Nay'dini'aa Na'Kayax' welcomed Indigenous Foods Knowledges Network (IFKN) members to join the camp. IFKN convenes Indigenous community members and researchers from the Arctic and US Southwest for place-based knowledge exchange about Indigenous foods. At the camp, network members learned how to fillet and preserve salmon alongside village youth, sharing meals and stories around the campfire. The cancellation of the 2020 camp, along with similar celebrations and gatherings across Alaska, disrupted intergenerational knowledge sharing aboutIndigenous food systems In light of these disruptions, IFKN leadership saw an opportunity to engage in a research project that asked: How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted food access for Indigenous individuals in Alaska and the US Southwest? In this essay, we share what we have learned from interviews conducted with Alaska Native experts as part of this project. Experts were individuals who had knowledge of traditional foods and who maintained a close connection with their home community and land in 2020.
 

Resource Type
Citation

N. Johnson, K. S. Erickson, D. B. Ferguson, M. B. Jäger, L. L. Jennings, A. R. Juan, S. Larson, W. K. S. Smythe, C. Strawhacker, A. Walker, and S. R. Carroll, 2021: The Impact of COVID-19 on Food Access for Alaska Natives in 2020. Arctic Report Card 2021, T. A. Moon, M. L. Druckenmiller, and R. L. Thoman, Eds., NOAA Arctic Report Card 2021. DOI: 10.25923/5cb7-6h06

Hopi Farm Talk Podcast: Indigenous Foods Knowledges Network Gathering with Mary Beth Jäger

Producer
Hopi Farm Talk Podcast
Year

On September 12-16, 2022, the Natwani Coalition & Hopi Foundation hosted the Indigenous Foods Knowledges Network (IFKN) on Hopi Territory. This historic gathering connected Indigenous communities from Alaska and the Southwest in spaces provided for a sharing of knowledge. Tribal food and data sovereignty were areas of focus as the growing conversation over the unique responses to rapid environmental changes that bond geographically distant Indigenous communities. IFKN's Mary Beth Jäger, Citizen Band Potawatomi, sits down with the Natwani Coalition to reflect on time spend in Hopi and Tewa communities.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Hopi Farm Talk. "Indigenous Foods Knowledges Network Gathering: Mary Beth Jäger". October 2022. Spotify. Podcast. https://open.spotify.com/episode/...

Transcripts for all videos are available by request. Please email us: nni@arizona.edu.

Cheyenne River Youth Project's Garden Evolving Into Micro Farm

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When the Cheyenne River Youth Project started its organic garden in 1999, staff at the 26-year-old nonprofit would never have guessed where the little garden would take them.

The two-acre Winyan Toka Win–or “Leading Lady”–garden is the heart of the youth project, and is becoming a micro farm. Sustainable agriculture at the youth project in Eagle Butte, South Dakota supports nutritious meals and snacks at the main youth center for 4 to 12 year olds and at the Cokata Wiconi Teen Center. The garden also provides fresh ingredients for the farm-to-table Keya Café, merchandise for the Keya Gift Shop, and seasonal Leading Lady Farmers Market. To continue with the garden’s success, CRYP has invested in a new irrigation system, a garden redesign, and a composting system...

Resource Type
Citation

ICT Staff. "Cheyenne River Youth Project’s Garden Evolving Into Micro Farm." Indian Country Today. July 6, 2015. Article. (https://ictnews.org/archive/cheyenne-river-youth-projects-garden-evolving-into-micro-farm, accessed March 22, 2023)

Feeding Ourselves: Food Access, Health Disparities, and the Pathways to Healthy Native American Communities

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Echo Hawk Consulting, headed by Crystal Echo Hawk, released today a comprehensive report on the state of food access in Native American communities, and the resulting health disparities in Native Americans. The report--commissioned by the American Heart Association (AHA) and its Voices for Healthy Kids joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and AHA--calls for tribes, the federal government, and philanthropic organizations to serve as agents of change in the area of Native food access.

Written with Janie Simms Hipp, Director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, and Wilson Pipestem of Pipestem Law, the report describes the problem Natives face:

“Now-repudiated federal policies that forcibly separated Native peoples from our historical lands and traditional sources of food are manifesting in our bodies today. Separation from healthy foods has been one of the most pernicious health problems we endure. The epidemics of obesity and diabetes in Native communities, even among our children, are direct consequences of limited access to healthy food.”

Feeding Ourselves examines success stories from grassroots programs in tribal communities that inspire and educate. The authors then suggest specific pathways for tribes, the federal government, and philanthropists to empower Native people to solve these difficult problems.

Resource Type
Citation

Echo Hawk Consulting. Feeding Ourselves: Food Access, Health Disparities, and the Pathways to Healthy Native American Communities. Echo Hawk Consulting. Longmont, Colorado. 2015. Paper. (https://search.issuelab.org/resource/feeding-ourselves-food-access-health-disparities-and-the-pathways-to-healthy-native-american-communities.html, accessed April 11, 2023)

Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool

Year

There are many assets related to Native food systems. Increased consumption of healthy and traditional foods may lead to better health among community members, preserving one of the most important assets in any community, its people. Of course, healthy, productive people are a cornerstone of any healthy community, but the last 200 years of federal policy toward Native Americans has reduced their control of land, disrupted traditional agricultural practices, and dramatically changed diets. Despite challenges created by historical practices and current environments in Native communities, there are many examples of successful projects whereby people are reclaiming local food systems, educating community members about diet-related diseases, revitalizing traditions associated with agriculture, and developing new food and agricultural enterprises. Food sovereignty assessments are one strategy that can be used to help reach these goals, and to revitalize Native agriculture and food systems. Implementing these tools will assist in identifying barriers and opportunities in the areas of health, economic development, and cultural revitalization as they relate to food and agriculture.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Bell-Sheeter, Alicia. Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool. Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative. First Nations Development Institute. Fredericksburg, Virginia. 2004. Tool. (http://www.indigenousfoodsystems.org/sites/default/files/tools/FNDIFSATF..., accessed May 5, 2023)

Diné Food Sovereignty: A Report on the Navajo Nation Food System and the Case to Rebuild a Self Sufficient Food System for the Diné People

Year

In the most basic analysis, food is an essential component of human life. Food nourishes and sustains us; without adequate access to food, human beings cannot survive. As a basic necessity for life, food is interconnected with every sector of life and wellbeing including health (physical, mental, spiritual), economy, family and community, and the environment. For these reasons, the right to food is a fundamental human right, and is recognized by the United Nations in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966.

Many of the issues faced today on the Navajo Nation can be directly tied to the food system. Therefore, understanding the Navajo Nation food system is crucial to improving the wellbeing of the Navajo Nation. An examination of the Navajo Nation food system reveals that our current food system not only does not serve the needs of the Navajo Nation, but also negatively impacts the wellbeing of the Diné people...

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Diné Policy Institute. Diné Food Sovereignty: A Report on the Navajo Nation Food System and the Case to Rebuild a Self Sufficient Food System for the Diné People. Diné Policy Institute. Diné College. Tsaile, Arizona. April 2014. Paper. (https://www.dinecollege.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/dpi-food-sovereignty-report.pdf, accessed April 4, 2023)