food sovereignty

Indigenous Peoples' Rights in Data: a contribution toward Indigenous Research Sovereignty

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Indigenous Peoples' right to sovereignty forms the foundation for advocacy and actions toward greater Indigenous self-determination and control across a range of domains that impact Indigenous Peoples' communities and cultures. Declarations for sovereignty are rising throughout Indigenous communities and across diverse fields, including Network Sovereignty, Food Sovereignty, Energy Sovereignty, and Data Sovereignty. Indigenous Research Sovereignty draws in the sovereignty discourse of these initiatives to consider their applications to the broader research ecosystem. Our exploration of Indigenous Research Sovereignty, or Indigenous self-determination in the context of research activities, has been focused on the relationship between Indigenous Data Sovereignty and efforts to describe Indigenous Peoples' Rights in data.

Citation

Hudson Maui, Carroll Stephanie Russo, Anderson Jane, Blackwater Darrah, Cordova-Marks Felina M., Cummins Jewel, David-Chavez Dominique, Fernandez Adam, Garba Ibrahim, Hiraldo Danielle, Jäger Mary Beth, Jennings Lydia L., Martinez Andrew, Sterling Rogena, Walker Jennifer D., Rowe Robyn K. Indigenous Peoples' Rights in Data: a contribution toward Indigenous Research Sovereignty. (2023).  Frontiers in Research Metrics and Analytics. 8. DOI=10.3389/frma.2023.1173805  https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/frma.2023.1173805

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.

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.
 

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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

Indigenous Foods Knowledges Network: Facilitating Exchange between Arctic and Southwest Indigenous Communities on Food and Knowledge Sovereignty

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On a sunny morning in June of 2019, our hosts at the Athabaskan Nay'dini'aa Na'Kayax' Culture Camp, located near Chickaloon Native Village in south-central Alaska, set up a table near the smoke house and demonstrated how to fillet salmon. It was salmon season in Chickaloon, and young campers were learning how to process fish: how to fillet, smoke, and preserve it in oil. First, children and youth from the camp were given the chance to practice their knife skills, with adults standing behind them and offering encouragement and gentle correction of technique when it was needed. Adults also taught the children Ahtna words (Ahtna is part of the Athabaskan language group) and stories as they prepared the salmon. After the children had all had a turn, camp leaders offered our group of visitors the chance to try. Amy Juan, a member of the Tohono O'odham Nation (located within the Sonoran Desert in south central Arizona) , eagerly stepped forward. "I've always wanted to learn how to fillet fish!" she said, explaining that since she came from a desert people, she had never had the chance to try.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Johnson, N,. Jäger, M.B., Jennings, L., Juan, A., Carroll, S.R., & Ferguson DB. (March 2020). Indigenous Foods Knowledges Network: Facilitating Exchange between Arctic and Southwest Indigenous Communities on Food and Knowledge Sovereignty.” Witness Community Highlights Arcus.org/witness-the-arctic

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.

Honoring Nations All-Stars Profile: The Red Lake Walleye Recovery Program

Year

In 1997, the members of the Red Lake Fisheries Association (RLFA), a cooperative established by com-mercial fishermen from the Red Lake Nation,1 voted to discontinue all commercial gillnet fishing on Red Lake for the upcoming season. An overwhelming majority of the RLFA’s members supported the decision, despite its direct impact on their livelihoods. Less than a year later, the Red Lake Tribal Council passed a resolution banning hook-and-line subsistence fishing for walleye, effectively ending all fishing on tribal waters. Hundreds of families lost income from the demise of commercial walleye fishing, and with the overall fishing ban, every tribal citizen lost access to a significant food source. But witnessing firsthand the stark decline of the walleye and recognizing that a vital cultural and economic resource was slipping away, the Red Lake Nation had taken a stand: it needed to do everything it could to save the walleye and make its iconic lake healthy again.

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Citation

Dolan, Jamie; Ian Record; Miriam Jorgensen; and Eileen Briggs. "Honoring Nations All-Stars Profile: The Red Lake Walleye Recovery Program". Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. 2013.

Sovereign Nations: Giving Visibility

Producer
Produced in partnership with TPT-Twin Cities PBS and producer/director Missy Whiteman
Year

Tribal nations have always had formal ways of self-governing. Take a closer look at local Tribes exercising their inherent rights to land, culture, and self-governance in a contemporary context. Produced in partnership with TPT-Twin Cities PBS and producer/director Missy Whiteman. Special thanks to Bradley Harrington, Byron Ninham, Levi Brown, and Peri Pourier.

Resource Type
Topics
Citation

Native Governance Center. 2018. "Sovereign Nations: Giving Visibility." Produced in partnership with TPT-Twin Cities PBS and producer/director Missy Whiteman. St. Paul, Minnesota. Video. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG9AVnIA5O0, accessed November 30, 2023)

Ahwahsiin (The Land/Where We Get Our Food)

Author
Year

Indigenous Peoples’ knowledge and food systems are fast disappearing but are of the utmost importance, not only for sustaining Indigenous Peoples but also for providing alternative paradigms for coping with diverse ecosystems in a changing global environment. This research examines Blackfeet tribal food systems and is meant to be not only an oral history of Blackfeet foods but a guide on how to use them.

Native Nations
Resource Type
Citation

Beck, Abaki. Ahwahsiin (The Land/Where We Get Our Food): Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Contemporary Food Sovereignty on the Blackfeet Reservation. Blackfeet Reservation, Montana: Saokio Heritage, 2017. Accessed February 28, 2023.

Honoring Nations: Patricia Ninham-Hoeft: Oneida Nation Farms

Producer
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development
Year

Patty Ninham-Hoeft, Business Committee Secretary for the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, discusses the impact of Oneida Nation Farms on the Oneida community and how it is a concrete expression of tribal sovereignty.

Resource Type
Citation

Ninham-Hoeft, Patricia. "Oneida Nation Farms," Honoring Nations symposium. Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Cambridge, Massachusetts. September 27-28, 2007. Presentation.

Heather Kendall-Miller:

"Now the people that we have today, on our panel, each have wonderful programs that they have been affiliated with, and each of them have their own stories of leadership and the roles that leadership played in developing nationhood. The first person that we are going to -- I want to first make note that we are missing, unfortunately, Tim Mintz, who was going to be here to speak on behalf of the Tribal Historic Preservation project and he is an officer of the Standing Rock Sioux [Tribe]. The Tribal Monitors program was one that we honored in 2005, a wonderful program. And you'll find in your reading material a summary of that program. And even though Tim is not here to speak about that today, I encourage you to look at that for yourself...We are going to begin with Patty Ninham-Hoeft and she's the tribal secretary with the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin. She's going to speak a little bit about the Oneida Farms project that was given high awards in 2005. Very, very interesting I would say. Again, [I] happened to be there. It was one of these stunning projects that we're all going, 'Yeah, yeah!' So with that, here's Patty."

Patty Ninham-Hoeft:

"Good afternoon. My name's Patty Ninham-Hoeft. I'm the tribal secretary for the Oneida Nation in Wisconsin. I'm serving my first term as one of nine people elected to the tribe's Oneida Business Committee. I'm here to talk about the Farm, which was honored by the Honoring Nations program in 2005 as an example of leadership. And I'm feeling very humble, a little not confident because I didn't really have, I didn't actually have any role in developing the Farm as an applicant to receive that award. Although I was there watching the people on our team compete for that award. What I'm going to share with you are some of the perceptions that I, personally, have about what the Farm represents to me and as a reflection of what I think is occurring in my tribe in Oneida. I think the Farm is a quiet leader. It's the result of working hard and doing a good job every day. And that comes -- that's a description from Pat Cornelius who, at 69-years-old, is still managing the Farm. You look at Pat and she looks younger than I do.

The idea for the Farm started around 1978 with 150 acres of land, 25 head of cattle. But many people since 1978 have worked that idea about having a farm. Today, the farm has I think almost 9,000, or more than 9,000 acres of land. 4,000 or more are in a mix of crops. There's alfalfa, corn silage, corn, soybeans, wheat, some pasture. And 4,000 acres of that land is used for federal conservation programs. We have restoration programs in place of wetlands and trout streams and waterways. We even have some cooperation going on with local municipalities in restoring some of the smaller trout streams that run through the reservation. We have Black Angus as livestock, about 450-550, and 125 or so cow/calf grazing programs. When I was asked to present on the Farm, that was a surprise to me, because as soon as I saw that the summit was announced, I immediately signed up because I wanted to attend because I'm a big fan of this project. And so then later, when I was asked to talk about the Farm, I sat down with Pat Cornelius to talk to her about it. And really all Pat had to say about the Farm was that it was just the result of hard work and doing a good job every day. And I kept urging her to describe more about what this represented and that was all I could get. So that's why you're going to get my perceptions.

The Farm I think is becoming visible. It's been a quiet leader, but it's becoming visible. And I think the visibility came when it got the 2005 award. And for me, someone who grew up in Oneida, I kind of took the Farm for granted. I watched in 1978 as some people, a little older than me then, tried to create a place where they could grow some indigenous crops and I watched them struggle and I watched the community beat it down and I watched somebody revive the idea. And then in 1992, I think that's when Pat came around, and she started running the Farm.

The Farm is becoming visible in ways that, because it uses tribal dollars and it manages the Farm with tribal members and it uses its land for the common good of the tribe. It generates revenues; it's a way to offset taxes. Because Oneida is a checkerboard reservation, we have overlapping jurisdictions across Oneida. We have two counties, we have a village and a town, we have the city of Green Bay, we have the village of Ashwaubenon, we have five public school districts and -- I think there's two towns actually, the town of Oneida and the town of Pittsfield. So we have lots of complexities and our goal has always been to reacquire our lands by the year 2020, or reacquire 51 percent of the lands by 2020. And so the Farm is a way as we're acquiring the lands, reacquiring through purchasing -- It's difficult to convert that land into trust status so we have taxes to pay. So this is a way to farm the land, get revenue back, and offset those taxes. The Farm is also a place that gives jobs and it's also become a place where Oneida gets to practice its culture. It's a place where Oneida values are brought to life. It's also a place where we get a chance to exercise our sovereignty.

Ways in which the Farm is a quiet leader: People want to buy the farm products, not just Oneida people, but people in the surrounding Green Bay metropolitan area. And the tribe -- marketing right now is a problem, Pat says. It's time to start marketing the product; right now it's just word of mouth. And you see the products in the local grocery store, at Festival Foods. And it's a source of pride, I think, for tribal members to walk down the aisles and see, in the fresh produce aisle, Oneida apples and to see people wanting to buy Oneida apple cider and specifically looking for it. It's great to be around people -- I belong to a sailing club and if we have cookouts they want Oneida buffalo burgers and buffalo brats. And it's great to have white corn products in your refrigerator. I remember as a kid growing up, the only way to get corn bread, white corn bread, these hard heavy loaves, was usually at Thanksgiving time and they were hand-made by elders in the community. But now you can get them every day.

Area farmers, another place where we're having some leadership is with area farmers. I think when the Farm was starting in those early years, local farmers looked at Oneida and said, 'Can these Indians farm? What are those Indians doing?' And now they are still asking that same question, but they're doing it because they want to learn and replicate our practices. So what's happening there is we're building relationships with our neighbors, and understanding.

Pat, as the manager, also is changing the role of women and the role of age. At 69-years-old and a woman managing a farm, she's breaking stereotypes and setting new examples for us.

The Farm also is helping us maintain the rural character of the reservation. And as I described all the multiple layers of jurisdiction, we have lots of competition for land use with Oneida and that competition is from developers. And Oneida is struggling right now because we don't have strong zoning rules, we don't have a comprehensive plan in place. And so the people that are defining how Oneida will look, how the geography of Oneida will be used, are the developers. And I see it happening on the outer perimeters of the reservation. I drive around and what was once rural, is now filled with pole metal buildings, storage sheds, and they're starting to define what my place is going to look like. So the farm is a way to kind of get this land, put it to use, and kind of slow development for a bit. And it's also good for, when we're paying taxes, because agricultural land, maybe some real estate people will argue with that, but it's a better tax base because there's less infrastructure to support it. So they're happy. And then it also helps to preserve the continuation of hunting. My dad, my brothers grew up hunting on the reservation, but as Green Bay encroaches into the res, hunting is becoming less and less. There are less places to do that. And, in fact, the village of Hobart, which is on half of the reservation, is starting to assert its rules of not allowing hunting.

The Farm has become a place to teach children and families about where their food comes from, the cultural values that Oneida had in regards to food and in regards to the land. And it's also a place where we're learning, revitalizing our language. One aspect of the Farm is called Tsyunhehkwa. And it's an Oneida word that means 'provides life for us.' And sometimes, on a good day, as I'm writing out a check for something there I can spell it from memory. But I run into my friends who aren't Oneida and they talk about going to Tsyunhehkwa to get essential oils or an herb. And the Farm has become a place to gather for community events. They have husking bee events, jigging contests.

The idea of the Farm, like I said, has been worked on by many people and I've watched them struggle; but Pat, I have to give credit to Pat who said to me -- when we were talking about what she does and what I do and the struggles that Oneida is having now and she said, 'You couldn't pay me enough money to be on the Business Committee.' But I think she's found a place to provide leadership for people who get elected to the Business Committee and she is an example of many community leaders from her generation who saw a problem, who took the initiative, had the spirit of entrepreneurism, and they went to work and they found ways to solve it. And my mother is an example of that generation. Pat's 69, my mom is 64, and when my mom was 32 years old (and I'm 45), she and another woman started Oneida Bingo in the gymnasium of the tribe's civic center. And they started it because, she was working in the civic center, couldn't afford to pay the utility bills, and they were playing Bingo at the local VFW and they started their own game; and it grew and grew. And in 1980, the tribe was issuing payroll checks for the first time and she was building a new building across from the airport in Green Bay. It's an example I think of people taking the initiative of that generation. And many projects I think that Oneida has been proud of have come from the community.

Oneida has a system where -- we have a direct democracy system where you can petition to have a special meeting, take action. So we have a representative system that I think sometimes is in conflict with that direct democracy system. Fifty people can petition; they get a meeting. As long as 75 people show up for that meeting you have, what you call, a General Tribal Council (GTC) meeting, and it's there where decisions can be made and they are often made there. But from there came ideas like the Farm, where it got its support; a scholarship program that is now in place, where Oneidas who want to pursue higher [education], wherever they live, get $20,000 a year to do that at three different levels -- undergrad, masters and a doctorate program. All those ideas came from the community.

The Farm is also a place like I said to exercise our sovereignty and they do that quietly, I think. It's a place where we can work more at, in the future I think, to develop land use policies. Because I think it's in the land use area where the tribe really is going to need to put its work toward improving, enhancing, our sovereignty. And so it's in zoning, it's how we control development. It's how we decide how someone is going to care for the land, storm water, runoff practices. And it starts with comprehensive planning. And the tribe started a comprehensive-planning process and has been doing it over and over and over again. And we are about to engage a consultant to come and help us do that. And I hope we get it finished next year.

Exercising sovereignty also happens too by knowing where our food comes from. And I have a cousin who's on the council, Paul Ninham, who really is a strong supporter of food sovereignty, and he's been introducing that concept wherever he goes. But it's really, kind of, being able to sustain yourself, sustain the production and the distribution of your food. Diabetes is a big problem in Oneida and according to the application that we submitted 10 percent of our population -- we have 16,000 members -- have diabetes. And they say we get one new patient a day with diabetes. And I think it starts with, it stems from food as one of the components.

My husband and I and our two kids last year started, for one month, for 30 days, we did the local food challenge, the 100-mile diet, where, in October, for one month we would only eat foods that we could find within 100 miles of where we lived. And what we learned from that was that our family became closer, because we spent more time preparing meals. We sat down and ate. Breakfast was really great. We produced less waste. We had less garbage that we brought to the curb. And it tasted better. We went to farmers' markets. We got to meet local farmers. We got to meet people who produce food. But the one thing that we found out was that it was very expensive. That if you wanted to eat good food, you have to have a higher income to do that. And so I think that's a challenge for Oneida too is because even white corn, dried white corn, I think, a pound of it was nine dollars -- very expensive. Controlling our seeds and you talk about heirloom seeds and our farmers market, we have a farmers' market. I forget how old it is, but it's located on an asphalt parking lot behind the tribe's Oneida One Stop gas station in the center of town. And as I was sitting there with Pat last week, we were sitting on a picnic table eating Oneida buffalo burgers and -- but the trucks that were using the gas station, semi-trucks would roll by us as we were talking and I thought, 'This is not the place for a farmers market.' But those are challenges that Oneida has in developing our space.

And then the Farm, as an exercise in sovereignty, helps to spread our ideas about Oneida; our values of Oneida get spread. When people use our food, when they start to depend on us for food and they start to trust what we are providing, I think then that's another chance to express our sovereignty. So, in conclusion, I think we have lots of challenges, lots of opportunities, the Farm is one of those quiet places I think where the community needs to look at as a source of inspiration. We're at a crux in Oneida; we're at a crossroads, I think. We have, we're searching for leadership, we're searching for people like Pat who can help guide the tribe in our next path, our next journey.

The tribe just recently passed a motion at a GTC meeting that created a per capita distribution plan. And on August 11 of this year [2007], we had more than 800 people show up for a GTC meeting. And more than 500 of them agreed that we would have a one-time per capita distribution by December 12 of this year. Tribal members 62 and older will get $10,000 and everyone younger will get $5,000. With 16,000 members, that'll be more than $88 million. It will deplete the rainy day fund that we have spent years and years of building. The vote, I think, is an example of, or a symptom of, an expression of frustration with tribal leadership. And the Business Committee constantly gets blamed for that. And it doesn't matter who's on the Business Committee, it's just the Business Committee gets blamed for that. And I think there's a lot of people who feel they've been invisible, that their needs have not been met. And I think too, the tribe, Oneida -- and I'm very critical of the tribe right now, I'm trying not to be. But I think we've lost sight of our purpose, that we've become great casino managers and thought that the casino was the end result when really it was supposed to be the means to the end. And this vote, as we're trying to figure out how we're going to pay for this and how we're going to distribute it, it really is forcing the entire community, the entire organization to think and reflect on who we are as a people and who we want to be in 25 or 50 years from now.

So I've heard people talk, it's about back to the basics and it's forcing us, that vote is forcing us to go back to the basics and really talk about what we want to be. I'll just leave this -- I was at a history conference in Oneida this summer and I got to hear just the end of someone's talk. It was a professor from Minnesota traveling back to Oneida. He's Oneida. And he said as he was driving home he asked himself, 'How do I know I'm Oneida. How do I know that?' And he said, 'I know because I have a home to come to, I have a place.' And to me, I think part of my purpose, part of being on the Business Committee, part of working for Oneida, is really trying to build, define this vision of what Oneida is going to look like. And it's really busting the stereotypes about a reservation community, about what a reservation community should look like. It's rethinking everything. So the Farm is, I think, a step in that direction at defining the place. And I'm just hopeful that the rest of the community will see it that way. And hopefully, when we come back and talk again that we'll have something more positive about what that vision's going to look like. Thank you very much."

Cheyenne River Youth Project's Garden Evolving Into Micro Farm

Year

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)