Reports Detail Tribal Food Policy Efforts & Tribal College Impact

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First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) recently released two new reports that should prove valuable for tribes and Native organizations.

Roots of Change: Food Policy in Native Communities

Roots of Change: Food Policy in Native Communities looks at recent developments in tribal communities aimed at taking control of their local food systems.

“Far too often, tribal communities asserting control over their food systems feel alone. But they are not alone and can garner lessons from other tribal communities working on revitalizing their food systems,” said A-dae Romero-Briones, First Nations Associate Director of Research and Policy for Native Agriculture, and report co-author. “This report reviews recent and lesser-known food-reclaiming strategies and food system work.”

The strategies vary from reservation to reservation, with some tribes getting involved in food policy and legislation, land management, food gathering, traditional food access, and the business development of food retailers.

“Native communities are looking at different ways to exert food sovereignty to improve nutrition, health, economies and governance over local food systems,” said Raymond Foxworth, First Nations Vice President of Grantmaking, Development and Communications. “Moreover, different sectors within Native communities are involved, including grassroots and nonprofit organizations, businesses and tribal departments. This report highlights what Native nations can do at the policy and legislative levels to improve local food sovereignty.”

Some of the tribes featured in the report include Cheyenne River Sioux (South Dakota), Confederated Siletz Tribe (Oregon), Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians (Michigan), Lummi Nation (Washington), Muscogee (Creek ) Nation (Oklahoma), Navajo Nation (Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado), Salt River Pima Maricopa (Arizona), Sault St. Marie Tribe (Michigan), and the Yurok Tribe (California).

Roots of Change: Food Policy in Native Communities was funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and was created under First Nations’ Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative, or NAFSI. The full report can be downloaded free from the First Nations’ Knowledge Center at http://www.firstnations.org/knowledge-center/foods-health. (Note: In the Knowledge Center, if you don’t have one already, you will need to create a free online account in order to download the report. Your account will also give you access to numerous other free resources in the Knowledge Center.)

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Research Note: The Economic Impact of Tribal Colleges in the Northwest Area Foundation Region

The second report highlights the economic impact of tribal colleges in the eight-state region served by Northwest Area Foundation. It finds that tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) contribute significantly to both short- and long-term economic development in reservation-based Native communities.

The report – The Economic Impact of Tribal Colleges in the Northwest Area Foundation Region — is the first in a new series of short publications called Research Notes that will keep the field updated with timely research about Indian Country. This inaugural report in the series was authored by Benjamin Marks, First Nations Senior Research Officer.

The report illustrates that the 19 TCUs in the eight-state region of the Northwest Area Foundation serve as immediate economic drivers in reservation-based communities. These 19 TCUs accounted for an average of more than $217 million in revenue between 2010 and 2011, and more than $285 million in net assets. Furthermore, the 19 TCUs employ more than 4,200 individuals.

TCUs also contribute to long-term, sustainable economic development by providing a more skilled workforce, encouraging entrepreneurship and small business development through a range of programs and services, and even offering asset-building programs to all community members through financial education classes and financial coaching.

The new Research Note series serves to deliver short, periodic research updates when First Nations has important findings to present that may not require a full-length publication or requires further analysis for a larger publication. The reports will generally be less than 10 pages and feature an analysis of new or existing data. Findings presented in the Research Notes may lead to more extensive studies in the future.

“We’re excited to offer these to anyone interested in new research about exciting developments in Native communities and issues that concern Indian Country,” said First Nations President & CEO Michael E. Roberts. “First Nations has been a leader in producing publications about Native economic development and other efforts, and we wanted to provide even more timely updates whenever we discover significant information that is not suited for a longer report.”

Future Research Notes will include topics dealing with asset-building, Native food systems, giving to Native communities, issues with American Indian/Alaska Native Census data, and more. The Research Notes will be available from the Knowledge Center on the First Nations website at www.firstnations.org/knowledge-center, where they will be individually categorized under the appropriate First Nations program area. (Note: In the Knowledge Center, if you don’t have one already, you will need to create a free online account in order to download the report. Your account will also give you access to numerous other free resources in the Knowledge Center.)

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