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 »
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack (center left, second row) meets with members of the USDA Council for Native American Farming and Ranching (CNAFR) in Washington, D.C. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
Late last month it was my privilege to join representatives from multiple USDA agencies at Wisconsin’s Mole Lake Indian Reservation to discuss ways to work together, across agency lines, to provide needed services to Tribes. Thanks to funding support through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and other USDA programs, the Obama Administration has boosted federal support for Tribes, but now we are working to step up our effort even more, to work as one to support projects and initiatives that the Tribes have told us they support and need. As we observe Native American Heritage Month, it is important to note that this effort is consistent with Secretary Vilsack’s “One USDA” policy. The intention is to have “one USDA speaking with one voice.”
Because we are such a large department, sometimes those seeking services just don’t know where to start. At USDA we are moving to unify our brand identity and broaden our outreach. We know that when a member of a Tribe approaches a USDA representative, they don’t want a process. They want an answer, and we should be giving them answers from all of our agencies. That was the message I shared with my USDA colleagues at Mole Lake. Read more »
APHIS plant health specialists investigate for Emerald Ash Borer.
For centuries, the Mohawk community of the Akwesasne (pronounced AHG – weh – SAUCE – knee) have created traditional basketry from the abundance of ash trees found along the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Thousand Islands area in New York.
But for the last three years, the trees and the matchless creativity of the Akwesasne have been threatened by a particularly harmful insect called the Emerald Ash Borer. Read more »
Earlier this month, I submitted a blog discussing plans to observe Native American Heritage Month in South Dakota. USDA Rural Development South Dakota staff held a Native American interactive day on November 28, which included traditional teachings, significance of the circle, meal, a game of “all my relations” and Native Pictionary. Today marks the final day of Native American Heritage Month, 2012.
Native American Heritage month is an opportunity for learning and sharing of Native American culture. USDA staff were educated on the symbolism of the circle and its relevance to the Native American people with Rural Housing Specialist Ken Lynch reading a quote from Black Elk Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux; USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks provided comments in support of this event and traditional foods included smoked white fish, salmon, herring, and fish spread. The hand smoking with native hardwoods brings out the delicate flavor of these fish. Chicken, a wild rice dish, and squash was provided by Rural Housing Technician Hetti Cekalla and her husband Leroy. Also served were Indian fried bread, vegetables, dessert and drinks. Read more »
Navajo Tech Veterinary Technology Program uses NIFA grant to teach students animal care.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.
USDA honors the achievements of American Indians during Native American Heritage Month and year-round. With educational funding and support from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), Navajo Technical College in Crownpoint, N.M., is one of the many tribal colleges and 1994 land-grant institutions doing considerable work in the scientific fields. Read more »
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center employee Bahe Rock gives the blessing at USDA's Native American Heritage Month Observance in the Jefferson Auditorium at the USDA South Building in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012.
I was honored last week to participate in the annual Native American Heritage Month observance at USDA’s Jefferson Auditorium. A near-capacity crowd watched as the Vietnam Era Veterans Intertribal Association presented the colors. That gesture was especially fitting, given this year’s theme of “Serving with Honor, Pride and Devotion: Country, Land and People.”
Following the blessing, given by Bahe Rock of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources Arthur “Butch” Blazer, a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, read a letter of support on behalf of Secretary Vilsack and noted that “When President Obama issued a proclamation designating November as Native American Heritage Month, it made me proud to be an American and a Native American.” He spoke of the continuing efforts of the Secretary to promote diversity in hiring at USDA. Read more »