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 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 (Note: you may have to create a free account to download the reports if you don’t already have one.)

Native Food Sovereignty Summit is April 14-17

Registration is open for the Second Annual Native Food Sovereignty Summit that will be held at the Radisson Hotel & Conference Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin, April 14-17, 2014.

Once again, First Nations is a proud co-sponsor of this important event. Our co-sponsors are the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, the Intertribal Agriculture Council and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

Last year’s conference was fully booked and got rave reviews, so register early to ensure you have a seat at this one. Online registration and information is at this link:

Last year's conference was sold out

There will be two training tracks: Track 1 is Applied Agriculture, and Track 2 is Outreach.  Attendees can attend sessions in just one track, or they can customize their experience by selecting from any of the sessions. There are also two optional Field Working Sessions on Thursday, April 17 from 1 to 5 p.m., which will be held at the Oneida Farm, Tsyunhehkwa and the cannery.

Also check the website if you are interested in becoming a vendor or sponsor, or if you want to showcase any traditional foods from other tribes and regions, or want to share samples of your packaging, marketing materials or products.

Tribes Partner Long Distance to Share Key Knowledge

The two tribes are situated far from each other – more than 1,600 miles apart – with one in northeastern Wisconsin and the other in northeastern Arizona.  They experience totally different climates and landscapes, and enjoy distinctly different cultural underpinnings and practices.

Nonetheless, the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin and the Hopi  Education Endowment Fund, a Section 7871 program of the Hopi Tribe of Arizona, are partnering in an effort to improve both of their communities, thanks to First Nations Development Institute’s Native Asset-Building Partnership Project.  It’s a long-distance relationship that holds much promise.

Many Native American communities have lost control of many assets over time.  Without control, the benefits of the assets flow away from tribal communities.  First Nations launched the Native Asset-Building Partnership Project between 2008 and 2010 with funding from various organizations.  It was intended to explore the use of tribe-to-tribe peer learning as an effective asset-building strategy and as a vehicle for tribes to share, explore and expand other strategies for sustainable economic development in Native communities.  The project was a success and paved the way for further partnerships.

This year, in 2013, the Hopi Education Endowment Fund and the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin are partnering under the Native Asset-Building Partnership Project to strengthen their ability to implement and sustain asset-building projects.  They also will engage in an evaluation to document the learning process and outcomes in order to create an even better model for future use.

This year’s effort is supported by the Otto Bremer Foundation and The Nathan Cummings Foundation.

The Hopi Education Endowment Fund (HEEF) will share its knowledge of philanthropy and IRS Section 7871 organizations with the Oneida Tribe in order to help them establish their own successful Section 7871 organization.   The Oneida Tribe will receive a grant to start its own IRS Section 7871 organization.  HEEF will also receive a grant to cover staff time spent on mentoring the Oneida Tribe.  HEEF will also be able to use the grant to increase its organizational capacity and become a stronger organization.  By doing this, HEEF will continue to have the ability to serve its community.

Just this month (March 2013), both partners finalized a Memorandum of Understanding that lists their individual responsibilities, a timeline, project benchmarks and expected outcomes. A site visit to the Oneida Nation is planned for early April by representatives of HEEF, a consultant and a First Nations staff member.  This site visit will allow for an in-person meeting, relationship building, a tour of Oneida’s community for HEEF representatives, and to get the ball rolling on the project.

By Lisa Yellow Eagle, Program Officer