Many Native American tribes have been gaining ground in recent years in the goal known as “food sovereignty.” Over the past 15 years, tribes in the Northwest and across the country are pushing to return to diets that more closely resemble those of their ancestors. More traditional diets help battle food-based diseases like diabetes that are over-represented in Indian cultures. They also combat the infamous “boarding school” practices throughout the 20th century, which aimed to “westernize” Indians and separate them from their culture.
The food sovereignty effort faces legal, financial, and cultural hurdles. But tribal leaders are fighting for legislation and grants to help make the return easier. On-the-ground efforts like community gardens and cooking classes are helping to reintroduce tribal members to the practices of their ancestors.
Are you a Native American? Do you prioritize a diet focused on “first foods?” What barriers do you face trying to return to a more traditional diet?
- Elise Krohn: Traditional Foods and Medicine Educator at the Northwest Indian College Cooperative Extension
- Rita Williams: Community Educator and Policy Coordinator at Muscogee (Creek) Nation Food and Fitness Policy Council
- Eric Quaempts: Director of the Department of Natural Resources at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation