A sampling of foods produced for sale by Native American businesses. USDA photo by John Lowery.
During the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) 71st Annual Marketplace & Convention, I had the privilege to host “Made in Native America: A Workshop on Native Business Exporting”. In this seminar, Tribal leaders and Native business owners came together to discuss the benefits and challenges of moving Native-made/Native-harvested products abroad.
“I believe as we start growing and working together, we’ll never have the poverty that we’ve seen in Indian Country,” says Karlene Hunter, CEO of Native American Natural Foods, during the workshop’s first panel. She continued by remarking, “You need to know your market. You need to know your capacity.” Read more »
Students at Circle of Nations School gathered vegetables that they grew in the school’s garden. They used the kale and cabbage in a “Healthy Choices” cooking class.
In November, USDA pays tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans by observing Native American Heritage Month. Today, an important part of Native American culture includes working towards a healthier lifestyle for Native American people. The following guest blog demonstrates the wide range of efforts that tribes are making to support a healthier next generation. We thank the Circle of Nations School for sharing their story.
By Lise Erdrich, School Health Coordinator, Circle of Nations School
Circle of Nations School (CNS) is an inter-tribal off-reservation boarding school in Wahpeton, N.D., chartered under the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate and funded by the Bureau of Indian Education. CNS serves American Indian youth in grades 4 through 8.
CNS is a 2012 recipient of the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award, a Green Ribbon School Award, and of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant. CNS was the first Green Ribbon School in the state of North Dakota and the entire Bureau of Indian Education system. These and related initiatives promote healthy environment, physical activity and nutritional improvement points including fresh, locally sourced food. Read more »
(Left to right) Educator and former government official Ada Deer, Rural Development’s Deputy Under Secretary Patrice Kunesh (Standing Rock Lakota), Office of Tribal Relations Director Leslie Wheelock (Oneida) and the Forest Service’s Deputy Under Secretary Butch Blazer (Mescalero Apache) at the USDA Native American Heritage Month observance at the Jefferson Auditorium at USDA. Photo by Bob Nichols.
Dennis Zotigh, Kiowa, National Native American Museum shared Native cultures through music and song during the Native American Heritage Month Observance Cultural exchange at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014. The Cultural Exchange featured Tribal College exhibit booths and cultural food sampling. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.
Legendary Native American Indian activist, educator and former government official Ada Deer (Menominee) delivered a charge to those attending USDA’s Native American Heritage Month observance here in Washington last week. “Be activists to achieve change,” she said. “We all pay our rent on the planet. How are you paying your rent?”
A former head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, she recently retired as director of the American Indian Studies Department and Director of the School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In my introduction, I noted that Ms. Deer’s life is a tribute to tribal sovereignty and self-determination. She is a role model to all Native Americans, but especially to Native American women. Not surprisingly, Ms. Deer spoke passionately about the role of Tribal colleges and universities. This year marks the 20th anniversary of their recognition by Congress as land grant institutions. These colleges and universities are central to the Tribes. They mark a firm move away from the old boarding school model and provide life-long learning opportunities in Tribal communities. “Education,” said Ms. Deer, “empowers people to enact positive change.” Read more »
U.S. exhibitors from Washington state and Alaska showcase their seafood products to buyers inside the American Indian Foods Booth at FOODEX 2013. (Courtesy Photo)
The Foreign Agricultural Service recognizes the U.S. agricultural exports grown, produced and harvested by American Indians across the country during Native American Heritage Month
For more than 25 years, the Intertribal Agriculture Council has promoted the conservation, development and use of agricultural resources to benefit American Indians. With the help of the Foreign Agricultural Service’s market development programs, IAC has introduced American Indian foods, grown and harvested in traditional ways established hundreds of years ago, to countries around the world.
The council is a Market Access Program participant, and uses the program to recruit new members, help businesses attend export readiness seminars and international trade shows, lead buyer’s trade missions and conduct promotional activities in worldwide markets. IAC also partners with FAS to conduct the American Indian Foods program, which also helps Indian-owned businesses showcase their agricultural products and culture to foreign markets. Read more »
Members of the Round Valley Indian Tribe retrace the 1863 route of the Nome Cult walk, a forced relocation of Indians from Chico, Calif., to Covelo, Calif. (U.S. Forest Service)
Many of us may think of the forest as a place to reflect upon times long past. There may even be a bit of nostalgia in those ruminations. Yet for members of the Round Valley Tribes, a recent walk through the Mendocino National Forest in California was more than a time to contemplate—it was a time to remember an agonizing event in history.
This autumn marked the 150th anniversary of the Nome Cult Walk, a forced relocation of 461 Native Americans from Chico, Calif., to the Nome Cult Reservation, near Covelo, Calif. Only 277 of those completed the forced march that passed through what is the heart of today’s Mendocino National Forest. Those who did not complete the journey were too sick to go on, some escaped, and others were killed. Read more »
Larry Romanelli, with the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Ogema (left) and NRCS Michigan State Conservationist Garry Lee (right) pose with artist Shirley M. Brauker, the winner of the agency’s Native American Heritage Month poster contest. NRCS photo.
When the Anishinaabe people migrated from the Atlantic Ocean coast to Michigan centuries ago, they were in search of a place where “food grows on the water,” according to their tribe’s legend. Their quest ended when they found wild rice, thriving in shallow waters in the Great Lakes region.
The wild rice, or manoomin, served as a staple of the Anishinaabe diet is still culturally and spiritually important to them. And, today, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is helping keep this tradition alive.
NRCS has worked with two Anishinaabe tribes to increase the number of wild rice beds using financial assistance from Farm Bill conservation programs. The Lac Vieux Desert Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was the first tribe to use NRCS assistance for planting rice. Tribal members planted about 12 acres of wild rice at six locations in 2006. Read more »