Renata Birkenbuel | Civil Eats


Renata Birkenbuel is the Civil Eats Indigenous Foodways Fellow for 2022–23. Birkenbuel, a member of the Montana Little Shell tribe, began her newspaper career as a daily sports writer, but eventually evolved into an education and business reporter who also covered food co-ops, food banks, and food security—sometimes intertwined with other social issues, as well as unions, health care, the arts, and pay equity. Based in Missoula, she mentors young writers as a college adjunct writing instructor. She also spent time working as an editor at Prairie Populist, an online-only advocacy conservation publication covering on-the-ground agriculture and sustainability stories in Montana missed by the mainstream press. She has worked as a contract reporter for Newsweek and Missoula Current. From 2013 to 2017, she served as an education, business, and features reporter for The Montana Standard in Butte, Montana. For the 14 years preceding that, Birkenbuel was a contributing writer for The Seattle Times and published articles in about 40 other Northwest publications.

Indigenous Foodways Are the Focus in a Growing Number of Classrooms

Indigenous and non-native Great Falls students and staff gather around hides of six bison, including a freshly killed bison, as Indian Education Director Dugan Coburn (in blanket coat) demonstrates skinning the bison and honoring its life with thanks with a sage-burning and pipe prayer. The sage smudge burns away any bad energy. Sweetgrass burning welcomes the good. (Photo credit: Great Falls Public Schools)