Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaign Continues to Drive Native-Led Policy Change

Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaign Continues to Drive Native-Led Policy Change

LONGMONT, Colorado (June 4, 2020) – First Nations awarded seven grants through the Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaign to support Native American-led efforts aimed at advancing new policies and innovative policymaking approaches that benefit Native American nutrition and health. These new grantees’ work ranges from the development of fundamental food codes to the groundbreaking Rights of Manoomin—legal rights for wild rice.

Funded in 2019, the Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaign was made possible through the Policy Innovation Fund, which was developed jointly by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) and the American Heart Association and its Voices for Healthy Kids initiative funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The campaign, administered by First Nations, is a continuation of the SMSC and American Heart Association’s partnership to promote Native-led dietary health advocacy, which first began in 2015. Other elements of the campaign include leadership development, technical assistance and movement-building activities to support the growing nutrition and health movement in Indian Country.

The grant recipients are:

American Indian Community Housing Organization – $78,122.00

Zaaga’iganing Anishinaabe Food Sovereignty Policy Initiative 

Hire a staff person dedicated to developing a robust network of Indigenous food producers and stakeholders in the Lake Superior (Lake of the Anishanaabe) region to share resources and identify future policy strategies. 

Blackfeet Tribe – $78,689.00

Codification and Creation of Agricultural (Nutrition) Standards for the Blackfeet Nation 

Customize and codify tribal standards to promote healthy food production, healthy eating with a focus on traditional foods and Blackfeet seeds within Blackfeet Nation to achieve sustainable economic development and reduce nutrition-related health disparities.

Chugach Regional Resources Commission – $80,000.00

Chugach Hunting, Fishing and Gathering Taskforce – Empowering our People, Encouraging Involvement, Changing Regulations

Implement capacity-building workshops to provide advocates the skills they need to protect Alaska Native hunting and fishing rights central to traditional ways of life and management of wildlife resources.

Lhaq’Temish Foundation – $73,817.50 

Lummi Food Sovereignty

Advocate for a food sovereignty policy that safeguards Lummi Nation’s foods, natural and human resources to improve health and address key nutritional needs. 

Niibi Center – $70,000.00

Niibi Center Institute for the Rights of Nature

Engage White Earth Nation to implement the Rights of Manoomin (wild rice) standards to reinforce the strengths of Indigenous peoples and the nations’ sovereign authority, and to revitalize the local culture. 

Tribal Nations Research Group – $79,998.00

Turtle Mountain Food Code Initiative 

Incorporate food behaviors into health and wellness by engaging the community so it can improve access to food, traditional food sustainability and ecologically sound food growing. 

Yurok Tribe – $73,817.50

Yurok Fertile Ground Project

Establish the creation of an entire Food Sovereignty Division of the Yurok Tribe to address food availability and insecurity, education and cultivation, and food sovereignty to ensure a community that is sustainable, self-reliant and educated in cultural food practices.

To support the success of Native grantees and advocates, the American Indian Cancer Foundation (AICAF), a Native-governed nonprofit organization, will provide leadership development, technical assistance and movement-building activities to support the growing nutrition and health movement in Indian Country. 


About the American Heart Association 

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public’s health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

About Voices for Healthy Kids

Voices for Healthy Kids is a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association, making each day healthier for all children. The collaboration is working with communities across the nation to ensure that children have access to healthy food and physical activity where they live, learn and play. For more information, visit

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized, sovereign Native American tribe located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Following a Dakota tradition of generosity, the SMSC is one of the top philanthropists in Minnesota and is the largest contributor to Native American tribes and causes across the country. It is a strong community partner and a leader in protecting and restoring natural resources. The SMSC’s government, Gaming Enterprise and various other enterprises are collectively the largest employer in Scott County. For more information, visit

About Seeds of Native Health

Seeds of Native Health is the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s philanthropic campaign to improve Native American nutrition and food access. Launched in 2015, the $10 million campaign has provided grants to local communities and funded research, education and capacity-building efforts. Partners include the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, Better Way Foundation, First Nations Development Institute, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, the Notah Begay III Foundation, the University of Arkansas School of Law’s Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, and the University of Minnesota. More information is available at 

About First Nations Development Institute

For 39 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit

About the American Indian Cancer Foundation

The American Indian Cancer Foundation (AICAF) is a national, Native-governed, 501(c)(3) nonprofit health organization dedicated to improving access to prevention, early detection, treatment and survivor support to eliminate the cancer burdens experienced by American Indian and Alaska Native people. AICAF partners with tribal and urban organizations to co-create effective and sustainable cancer solutions that are culturally appropriate. AICAF believes Native communities possess the wisdom to find innovative solutions that are community-centered to address cancer inequities. AICAF provides capacity building through training, technical assistance and resources to tribal and urban partners to achieve these shared objectives. For more information, visit

For Media Inquiries: 

Amy Jakober, First Nations Senior Communications Officer or 303-921-1015

Sara Swenson, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
651-717-4170 or

Suzette Harris, American Heart Association Media Advocacy Director
214-706-1207 or