Native Americans across Midwest embrace traditional foods rejected by centuries of colonization

“Native American tribes and communities are creating formal programs that focus on their traditional foods to not only combat systemic food insecurity, but also connect people to their culture”

In late July in Kansas City on a foraging trip Jojo Blackwood made a discovery of a rare mushroom that changed the way she views her food. The Kanas City Indian Center currently has two community gardens that Blackwood helps with, and she has stated, “It really helps me connect to my culture better. It helps me connect to my people better. I like to think that my ancestors are proud of me for doing this.”

This movement towards food sovereignty – meaning the right for people to control how and where they get their food – is growing throughout the United States. For Native American tribes and communities especially as many of them have been separated from their culture and traditions from centuries of colonization. The impacts of the federal government and American people on Native Americans is something that is still happening today. According to a recent study done by the Food Security journal researchers found that while Native Americans make up 2% of the population, they suffer from some of the highest rates of food insecurity, poverty, diet-related diseases, and other socioeconomic challenges.

To combat these systematic issues and barriers, Indigenous organizations have started food sovereignty programs taking matters into their own hands. A-dae Briones, a director of programs by the First Nations Development Institute in Colorado had this to say, “When we’re talking about Indigenous communities, especially on this continent, we’ve always been here, we’ve always been trying to feed our people, we’ve always been working to steward land and water and seeds. But it’s only been recently that you see more formal organizations such as non-profits led by Indigenous people explicitly stating that’s part of their work.”

The full article on how Native Americans are embracing traditional foods that have health benefits and how this movement is helping people reconnect to their culture can be found here.

Source: KCUR 89.3 npr “Native Americans across Midwest embrace traditional foods rejected by centuries of colonization.” July 25, 2022.