14 Stories of Resiliency and Food Justice in Indigenous Communities

We share our recent reporting on the myriad Native solutions to food insecurity, seed preservation, sustained food sovereignty, and more.

A Mashpee Wampanoag tribal gathering. (Photo courtesy of the Mashpee Wampanoag)

This year, Thanksgiving is fraught for many reasons, chief among them the ongoing and escalating crisis of the coronavirus pandemic. Many families have canceled or limited travel and festivities, and some are only gathering virtually.

But for Indigenous people, Thanksgiving has never been a celebration, but rather a National Day of Mourning and a sorrowful reminder of white colonizers’ genocide of millions of their people, the theft of their lands, and the continued, relentless assault on their cultures. Instead, they choose to honor their ancestors and the way Native people struggle to survive today, especially in the face of COVID-19.

Throughout the years, Civil Eats has reported on the unique ways Indigenous Foodways inform and contribute to the U.S. food system.

This year, we deepened that reporting on the myriad solutions Native people are applying to food insecurity, seed preservation, and sustained food sovereignty. In recognition of this resiliency, here is a list of our recent stories on hope, reconciliation, and justice in Native communities.

The Civil Eats team is saddened by the recent passing of Hank Herrera, an Ohlone elder and long-time food justice advocate, from COVID-19. We honor his work and spirit, and dedicate this post to him.

Restoring Food Sovereignty on the Spirit Lake Reservation
With a grocery store, traditional garden programs, and an emphasis on cooking, these bands of the Dakota tribe in northern North Dakota are reviving their food system through traditional foods.

Coronavirus Is Creating a Food Security Crisis in Indian Country
‘There’s no way this is going to end well.’ The coronavirus is devastating Indigenous communities, long shut out of food supply chains and infrastructure development.

interior of fry bread houseHow The Fry Bread House, a Mainstay of Indigenous Cuisine, Perseveres
As restaurants fully reopened in May in Arizona, a beloved Phoenix restaurant serves as a model of Indigenous adaptation and survival.

Op-ed: Migrant Farmworkers, Native Ranchers in Border States Hit Hardest by COVID-19
An agricultural ecologist points to systemic racism resulting in a devastating lack of response to the pandemic.

Food as Medicine on the Navajo Nation
This Native-run coronavirus relief effort could help the Navajo Nation become more resilient over the long term.

Jessika Greendeer teaching kids in the DWH Seed Garden. (Photo courtesy of Dream of Wild Health)

Photo courtesy of Dream of Wild Health.

Feeding an Indigenous Community and Rematriating Seeds in Minneapolis
The nonprofit Dream of Wild Health grows food to fight insecurity and creates food sovereignty for Native Americans hit hard by the pandemic and ongoing racial justice protests.

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Rediscovering Detroit’s Roots Through Indigenous Food
Through a collective maple sugaring effort, pop-up dinners, seed saving, and more, an urban community is reconnecting to its Indigenous foodways.

The ‘Thanksgiving Tribe’ Is Still Fighting for Food Sovereignty
The Mashpee Wampanoag, who shared their harvest with the Pilgrims in 1620, are at the center of a legal battle with the U.S. government to maintain access to their traditional lands and foodways.

Neftalí Durán. (Photo courtesy of I-Collective)

Photo courtesy of I-Collective.

Neftalí Durán is Using Indigenous Wisdom to Educate Eaters and Address Inequity
The food activist and co-founder of the I-Collective sees the work of his elders as the foundation for promoting economic, racial, and environmental justice.

12 Native-Owned Food Businesses to Support on Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Ways to honor the original stewards of this country, through reverence, respect, and remuneration.

‘Gather’ Centers Efforts to Heal and Rebuild Indigenous Traditions and Foodways
Filmmaker Sanjay Rawal explains the complexities of making the documentary for and about Indian Country.

Caribou cow in the Klinse-za Maternity Pen. Project members collect a portion of the herd’s pregnant cows in March (13 cows in 2020) and hold them in the pen, where they can care for and protect them until late July when the calves are about two months old and able to fend for themselves in the wild.

Photo by David Moskowitz.

Saving Caribou and Preserving Food Traditions Among Canada’s First Nations
A photojournalist documents an unprecedented effort to restore caribou herds that are central to Indigenous foodways.

 

A New Native Seed Cooperative Aims to Rebuild Indigenous Foodways
The Indigenous Seed Growers Network sprouted from the pandemic, and is quickly evolving to help communities secure their own food systems for generations to come.

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An overhead view of the Yocha Dehe Wintu Nation's farmland, including the Séka Hills oil processing mill.Civil Eats TV: Liquid Gold on Tribal Land
With its Séka Hills olive oil, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation is reclaiming its ancestral land with a crop for the future.

 

 

 

Top photo: A Mashpee Wampanoag tribal gathering. (Photo courtesy of the Mashpee Wampanoag)

The Civil Eats Editors

Since 2009, the Civil Eats editorial team has published award-winning and groundbreaking news and commentary about the American food system, and worked to make complicated, underreported stories—on climate change, the environment, social justice, animal welfare, policy, health, nutrition, and the farm bill— more accessible to a mainstream audience. Read more >

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