USDA and Tribal leaders meet to discuss nutrition programs in Indian Country.
This February I had the great honor of participating in a meeting on the landscape of nutrition programs in tribal communities. The meeting in Washington, D.C. brought together elected leaders from 12 tribal nations across the country, as well as USDA Acting Deputy Secretary Michael Scuse and representatives of tribal organizations.
Nutrition wasn’t the only topic on the table that day, as leaders shared with us the wonders and challenges for those living within tribal communities. Elected leaders from as far west as Quinault Nation (along the coast of Washington) to representatives from Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians in northern Michigan, spoke of the beauty and tradition among their tribes, but also shared the challenges experienced by tribal youth, young families, single adults, and respected elders living on Indian reservations. Read more »
Bertha Etsitty helps 4-H members make traditional blue corn mush during a club activity. Photo by Leah Platero
Nutritional security is defined as “a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”
Achieving nutritional security in the context of the burgeoning population, climate change, diminishing land and water resources, environmental degradation, and changing incomes and diets will require not just approaches to sustainably producing more food, but also smarter ways of producing food, dealing with food waste, and promoting improved nutritional outcomes. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension and seeks to make transformative discoveries that solve these societal challenges. NIFA’s portfolio of support for nutritional security and sustainable agriculture includes literally thousands of impactful efforts across our nation; below are just a handful that speak to the transformative work transforming lives. For example: Read more »
USDA Deputy Under Secretary Arthur “Butch” Blazer is all smiles with a group of San Carlos Apache Reservation fourth graders as they hold up their Every Kid in a Park passes. Smokey Bear got in on the fun, too, and provided the kids with a special packet of information about wildfire prevention. (U.S. Forest Service)
With more than 40 years of professional experience working in the field of natural resources, I am sometimes asked to share the personal outdoor experiences I had as a tribal member growing up on my reservation. When the request involves children, and those children are Native American, I am especially honored because in my culture the elders share traditional teachings of how we are connected to nature, both through stories and traditional songs.
As we celebrate Earth Day 2016, I am reminded of a recent invitation from the U.S. Forest Service Tonto National Forest and Smokey Bear to speak at a career day on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona. I had an audience of 180 tribal fourth graders from Rice Elementary School to share my experiences growing up on a reservation and the lessons I learned about the outdoors. Read more »
Researchers at the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station hosted a two-day field workshop at the Blodgett Experimental Forest in California as part of last year’s Native American Research Assistantship Program. Photo credit: Jonathan Long, US Forest Service.
The U.S. Forest Service is working with The Wildlife Society to give Native American students a chance to work as research assistants for Forest Service scientists. Forest Service Research and Development funding provides stipends for living expenses for college juniors, seniors and graduate students during their mentorship, while the society provides administrative support and coordination.
The Research Assistantship Program selects Native American students who are interested in becoming wildlife biologists. They gain beneficial hands-on experience while working with a wildlife professional on an approved project. Five students have been selected for research assistantships in this second year of the program, which will last for approximately 12-14 weeks, beginning in late spring and running through late summer. Read more »
Ben Barnette explains the significance of the rock formation in a two-day training session. Photo: Chris Robbins.
The day was brisk, the air was fresh, and the subject of the day was captivating. Sixteen Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field conservationists in California had just sat through a day of classroom-style instruction on cultural resources policy, law and identification. Now they trudged along behind California State Archaeologist Ben Barnette to practice their skills in a field setting.
“It all seemed fairly ordinary,” said Soil Conservationist Chris Robbins. “We stopped at a ranch and hiked over to an unremarkable rock formation jutting from the rolling landscape. But it turned out to be a rock shelter that was used by Native Americans—with plenty of evidence to prove it. They left their marks on the walls as well as pieces of artifacts scattered nearby.” Read more »
FDPIR provides healthy food and nutrition education to an average of 92,500 income-eligible individuals living on or near reservations across the United States each month.
March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.
In Indian Country, culture and tradition are sustained through shared meals with family and the community. Traditional foods are a powerful way for each new generation to connect with and honor its history and its ancestors.
Bison and blue cornmeal have recently graced the tables of participants in USDA’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) thanks to the joint commitment of the Agricultural Marketing Service and Food and Nutrition Service, working with the FDPIR community to identify and procure foods traditional to many tribes. Last year, AMS awarded two contracts to Native American-owned small businesses to deliver frozen, lean ground bison meat to FDPIR. From November 2015 to the end of June 2016, these companies are on schedule to deliver a total of 520,000 pounds of bison meat. A third contract was awarded for whole-grain blue cornmeal. This product was received by tribes during the 2015 holiday season for use in a wide variety of recipes and cultural dishes. Read more »