Native Food Sovereignty Summit is Oct. 26-29

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) and the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin will co-host the Third Annual Food Sovereignty Summit to be held in Green Bay, Wisconsin, October 26-29, 2015, at the Radisson Green Bay Hotel and Conference Center. At the event, Native American communities come together to learn from one another in order to promote Native health, wellness and food sovereignty. (Also see “Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool” below.)

This conference sold out well ahead of time the previous two years, so be sure to guarantee your attendance by registering soon at www.firstnations.org/summit. Previously the conference was held in April, and this year it will be held in October to incorporate the Oneida Nation’s traditional white corn harvesting.

This year’s event will feature three tracks: Applied Agriculture, Community Outreach, and Products to Market. Native farmers, ranchers, gardeners, businesses, policymakers and other practitioners from around the U.S. will share information, program models and tools to meet growing and marketing challenges, as well as provide inspiration, mentoring and networking opportunities. Among special features of this year’s summit are Experiential Learning Field Sessions (farm practices, food preservation, food handling, organic certification, etc.), a Chefs’ Corner (culinary creations from various tribal regions), and a “Connect the Dots” session to connect mentors and mentees with the goal of building healthy Native communities.

As in the past, the Food Sovereignty Summit is generously supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool Updated, Republished

Related to the food sovereignty movement in Indian Country, First Nations also recently released a revised, updated Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool that can be downloaded for free.

The Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool (FSAT) assists Native communities in reclaiming their local food systems. It helps demystify the process of data collection about local food systems and provides tools and a framework for Native communities to measure and assess food access, land use and food policy in their communities. Since its original development, First Nations has provided hundreds of trainings on the FSAT and it has been used around the world in other Indigenous communities.

Prior to colonization, Native peoples had self-sufficient and sustainable food systems. Over time, removal from traditional homelands, limited access to traditional food sources, and transitions to cash economies, among other things, weakened tribal food systems. Today, many Native communities and households are food insecure, dependent on outside food sources, and maintain a diet of Western foodstuffs that are often linked to negative and deteriorating health, community and economics. Recognizing that the loss of self-sufficient food systems is a contributing factor to the many issues Native communities face today, First Nations works with and supports Native communities in reclaiming local food systems.

According to the FSAT’s introduction, “Local food-system control is foundational to reversing years of colonization aimed at the disintegration of cultural and traditional belief systems and dismantling of Native social and economic systems. If Native communities can control local food systems, food can become a driver for cultural revitalization, improving community health, and economic development.”

To download this new, free publication, visit http://www.firstnations.org/knowledge-center/foods-health (Note: you may have to create a free account to download the reports if you don’t already have one.)

Free Native Ag/Food & Financial Capability Resources

 

First Nations Development Institute recently released new publications in two of its focus areas: 1) Native Foods and Health and 2) Native Financial Empowerment.

Native Foods and Health

Twelve new Fact Sheets were published recently that provide broad overviews and specific insights into numerous topics dealing with Native American agriculture and food systems. The fact sheets should prove valuable to Native farmers, ranchers, gardeners, food processors, marketers and tribal policymakers. The publications are free and available for download from First Nations’ Knowledge Center at this link: http://www.firstnations.org/knowledge-center/foods-health/resources/fact-sheets-2. (Note: you may have to create a free account to download the reports if you don’t already have one.)

The new fact sheet topics are:

  • Community Kitchens
  • Farm-to-School Programs
  • Farmers’ Markets
  • Food and Household Income
  • Food Hubs
  • Food Policy
  • Food Safety
  • Food Seasonality
  • Food Sovereignty
  • Producers and Market Access
  • Seed Saving and Seed Sovereignty
  • Youth Engagement

First Nations also recently released a revised, updated Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool (FSAT). The FSAT assists Native communities in reclaiming their local food systems. It helps demystify the process of data collection about local food systems and provides tools and a framework for Native communities to measure and assess food access, land use and food policy in their communities. Since its original development, First Nations has provided hundreds of trainings on the FSAT and it has been used around the world in other Indigenous communities.

To download, visit http://www.firstnations.org/knowledge-center/foods-health (Note: you may have to create a free account to download the reports if you don’t already have one.)

Native Financial Empowerment

Tribes and Native American nonprofits are pioneering new and innovative financial capability programs that empower tribal citizens to take control of their financial futures. First Nations, working in partnership with the Northwest Area Foundation, recently released a report documenting these programs and identifying promising practices and areas for growth. Titled Building Assets and Building Lives: Financial Capability Programs in Native Communities, this report provides an overview of recent research on financial literacy and financial services in Native communities, and then presents data on financial capability programs serving a broad range of communities in the Northwest Area Foundation region.

Financial capability programs increase financial knowledge and also provide financial services that are affordable, easy to use, and safe. For example, the Northern Eagle Federal Credit Union, a financial institution recently launched by the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa Indians, offers affordable savings accounts and other financial services to tribal members. Staff members also conduct financial education workshops for tribal employees, high school students and other community members to help people build their financial knowledge and skills. In addition, they provide financial counseling services.

For a copy of the Building Assets and Building Lives: Financial Capability Programs in Native Communities paper, visit http://www.firstnations.org/knowledge-center/financial-education/research. (Note: you may have to create a free account to download the reports if you don’t already have one.)

Tribal College Students Get Into Food Sovereignty

The American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) serves as the core network and national voice of the nation’s 37 tribal colleges and universities. It provides those tribally- and federally-chartered institutions with services in the areas of advocacy, public policy, research and program initiatives.

Now it’s helping First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) spread the word about Native food sovereignty to students and others at those tribal campuses and in the college communities.

At the AIHEC Annual Student Congress in March 2014 in Billings, Montana, the students will hold a food-assessment competition.  Formally assessing a community’s food assets, systems and processes is a key first step in developing a strong food sovereignty outcome in that community.

The building block of the student food-assessment competition is First Nations’ own Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool, or FSAT, which First Nations developed in 2004. The student congress representatives took First Nation’s assessment tool and made some modifications to fit their needs for the competition. The congress is now distributing the document to each tribal college or university so they, in turn, can interest their students in competing in the event.

Students must turn in their completed assessment by February 1. As many as two students can collaborate on each entry. The most thoroughly completed assessment – with the best attempt to inform and make the most difference in their community in regards to food sovereignty – wins the competition. The winner or winners, who will be decided ahead of the conference, will receive a stipend to attend the conference, where they will present the findings of their assessment.

According to AIHEC, the competition is intended to promote food sovereignty awareness and encourage tribal college and university students to begin conversations with their fellow peers and the college administration to become more food sovereign as a tribal college campus, a tribal community, and a tribal nation. Further, the Annual Student Conference says it “hopes to stimulate sustained involvement in sustainability and health and well-being through food sovereignty across Indian Country.”

You can find First Nations’ Food Sovereignty Assessment Tool at this link – http://www.firstnations.org/KnowledgeCenter/NativeAmericanFoodsAndHealth/Resources — along with many other resources dealing with Native food and agriculture.

By Randy Blauvelt, First Nations Senior Communications Officer