14 Stories of Resiliency and Food Justice in Indigenous Communities

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.

How 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.

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.

Thank you for being a loyal reader.

We rely on you. Become a member today to read unlimited stories.

Become a member

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.

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.

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.

Get the latest. Delivered every week.

We rely on you. Become a member today to read unlimited stories.

Sign up

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

Published by
The Civil Eats Editors

Recent Posts

Getting Food Assistance to Californians Might Get Easier

“California’s food insecurity crisis is worse than ever, and we have a moral responsibility to…

1 day ago

As COVID-19 Ups the Stakes, Advocates Say Prison Food Needs an Overhaul

“I’ve eaten things that may have given me food poisoning,” he said. “I've broken out…

2 days ago

Are Some Animal Welfare Labels ‘Humanewashing’?

Many of these labels look similar and use the same words and imagery—think cows on…

4 days ago

On MLK Day: Our Stories on Food and Democracy

The events of the past weeks have shaken the halls of American democracy, and us…

5 days ago

Op-ed: The Peanut Industry Has a Monopoly Problem—but Farmers Are Pushing Back

And it’s not just a pandemic-fueled phenomenon. U.S. peanut consumption has grown just about every…

1 week ago

The Seneca Nation Is Building Food Sovereignty, One Bison at a Time

Snyder, the director of the agriculture department for the Seneca Nation, has overseen a number…

1 week ago