First Nations Awards Grants to 32 Community Partners to Improve Native Food Sovereignty

First Nations Awards Grants to 32 Community Partners to Improve Native Food Sovereignty

LONGMONT, Colorado (March 1, 2022) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) has announced the 2021-2022 grantees under its GATHER Food Sovereignty Grant Program.

With this funding, each organization will be able to advance its work toward food sovereignty by investing in local Native food systems, leading to improved economies, health, and community policies.

The 32 community partners were chosen from over 108 applicants. The high number of applicants, according to A-dae Briones, First Nations’ Director of Native Agriculture and Food Systems Programs, is an indicator of the increased focus on improving pre-pandemic-related food insecurity in Indian Country. “We received a high number of very deserving proposals,” she said. “Now, the long-term effects of the pandemic have made these projects even more important, and we are honored to invest in their Native-led effectiveness and ingenuity.”

Funding for the GATHER Food Sovereignty Grant Program was made possible through the Indigenous People’s Fund at Tides Foundation, an organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of social change by working with innovative partners to solve society’s toughest problems.

Additional funding has been provided by the Hewlett Foundation through First Nations’ California Tribal Fund, as well as through Keepseagle-related Native American Agriculture Fast-Track Fund (NAAFTF), with dollars allocated to Oklahoma-based producers.

The 32 community partners and grant recipients are:

Aleutian/Pribilof Islands Association, Anchorage, Alaska: $32,000
This grant will improve the nutritional well-being of elders living in the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands region―specifically, the communities of Atka, St. George and Nikolski. Elders in existing congregate meal sites will have greater access to culturally relevant foods, such as fish, birds, plants, and caribou. The association will also provide the proper supplies to obtain these traditional foods, as well as nutritional information for each food item served.

Avi Kwa Ame Farms, Mohave Valley, Arizona: $32,000
Plans are to regain Native resiliency by integrating Indigenous food sovereignty with today’s sustainable agriculture movement. The Tribe will create a greenhouse, poultry house, and worm farm. Tribal members will participate in the harvesting of winter and spring crops. They can also attend online nutrition and cooking classes.

Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women (CSVANW), Albuquerque, New Mexico: $32,000
CSVANW has long recognized the connection between violence prevention and food security. The project, “Planting Seeds for Healing,” will build connection to the history of sustainable methods of food harvesting and preparation through four workshops. A seed library will be created to share with New Mexico-based Tribal communities, New Mexico Tribal youth councils, and Albuquerque-based urban Natives. What’s more, the coalition will grow 400 starter plants to present to youth councils at a plant-giving event.

Emmonak Tribal Council, Emmonak, Alaska: $31,998
This money will help increase opportunities for youth to learn and practice all aspects of food harvesting, including hunting, fishing, gathering, and sharing with community members in need. Youth will learn traditional fishing and fish preparation, such as assembling an under-ice net for ice fishing. They will also learn how to assemble a salmon net, and fish for and prepare salmon for community distribution. Elders will lead the instruction.

Fort Peck Community College, Poplar, Montana: $31,436
The project will link each tier of the local food system to financially benefit all parties involved and encourage buy-in for years to come. Tiers include production (Fort Peck Tribes Fish & Game Department and Fort Peck buffalo herds); processing (butchers for affordable meat processing and packaging); distribution (locally owned and operated grocery stores); and consumption (public promotion, surveys, and food-sovereignty events, such as film screenings and community feeds).

Hui Aloha Aina Momona, Kaneohe, Hawaii: $32,000
The goal is to distribute seed and starter stock of Hawaiian food plants and create ʻOhana Gardens throughout Oʻahu. Four specific goals are to distribute Hawaiian varieties of huli (taro seed stock) throughout Hawaii―a minimum of 10,000; create ʻOhana Gardens with every ingredient for a successful food harvest (soil and infrastructure―box gardens, Indigenous ag fertilizers, manpower and education); plant ulu (breadfruit) orchards in at least three Oahu sites; and make ulu trees available to purchase and plant.

Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, Santa Ysabel, California: $30,915
The Tribe will restore garden beds and other growing areas, water drainages, and picnic areas―and distribute yields among the community. Plans are to build an outdoor food processing area for onsite cleaning, food/medicine processing, drying, and preparation. A Tribal seed bank will provide families with food and medicine―eliminating seed-buying from off-reservation sources. Finally, 12 families will get kits to grow seed crops.

Ivanof Bay Tribe, Anchorage, Alaska: $32,000
This project has three main components: A Tribal Food Sovereignty Needs Assessment Survey, a website update highlighting skilled subsistence producers within the Tribe, and a six-part food-sovereignty workshop. Survey data will inform decision-making and be shared with community members. The website will feature five subsistence producers from the Tribe who will educate and promote food sovereignty. The workshop will educate participants on Tribal food sovereignty and train them to harvest, process, and store subsistence foods.

Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Sequim, Washington: $32,000
The Tribe will develop a business and marketing plan, and organize a focus group comprised of Tribal business owners, local business owners, and Tribal citizens, who will meet monthly to select eight products to produce. A Food and Agriculture Committee will develop a Tribal Food Safety Code and standardized food production sheets for each product, along with a safety manual.

Ka Ipu Makani Cultural Heritage Center, Kaunakakai, Hawaii: $30,316
The Huliamahi Loipunawai Farming Education and Training Project will expand on Ka Ipu Makani Cultural Heritage Center’s current Kawao Kaamola stewardship program at Kaupapaloʻi o Ka’amola (KOK). The project will elevate current work at KOK by developing and increasing opportunities for Native Hawaiians to become proficient in loipunawai kalo farming and harvesting practices, as well as kalo preparation and food processing.

Kawerak, Inc., Nome, Alaska: $31,958
This Alaska Native Corporation has created a garden to grow test crops to sell locally via social media, Nome-based grocery stores, and on-site purchases. Excess produce is donated to the local food bank and senior community center. The corporation will hire a contractor to conduct a region-wide food assessment of food production and distribution models.

Keres Children Learning Center, Cochiti Pueblo: $32,000
The center will create a mobile outdoor classroom for the Cochiti Pueblo community. It will offer 40 hours of nine Keres language immersion classes on traditional farming, cooking, gathering, hunting, and arts and crafts. Parents will learn about atole (blue corn mush) and piki bread (blue corn paper bread), corn planning, melon planting, and harvesting. Older students will plan an in-person or virtual food-sovereignty gathering. A community garden will be created for children and elders to work together in the Keres language.

Klamath Trinity Resource Conservation District, Hoopa, California: $31,993
The district will work with 15 Tribal youth during the two fishing seasons in Hoopa―March to June and late August to October. Participants will learn how to hang nets, set a net on the Trinity River, clean fish, and process them through smoking and canning. Local elders and fisherman will be on hand to help. Tribal dance leaders will teach participants how to respect fish and explain how they fit into Tribal dances.

Kno’Qoti Native Wellness Inc., Clearlake Oaks, California: $31,828
The Elem Indian Colony of Pomo Indians of the Sulphur Bank Rancheria will create raised vegetable and fruit-tree wicking beds. Community members will participate in the planning, seed-ordering, planting, and bed construction. Ten children will travel to the coast to gather seaweed with elders and learn how it is processed, dried, stored, and cooked. Also, a research team will study ways to improve soil health and will share findings at a workshop.

Menīkānaehkem, Inc., Gresham, Wisconsin: $32,000
This project is a collaboration between Menīkānaehkem, Inc., the Woodland Boys & Girls Club, Menominee Tribal Department of Agriculture and Food Systems, and others that have worked together on obesity prevention. Participants will attend 10 workshops and talking circles to learn about traditional gardening and gathering, community sharing, support, and healing. Youth will grow Indigenous foods to share with the community and use in ceremonies and feasts. At the end of growing season, participants will prepare their harvest for a traditional feast.

Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, Brigham City, Utah: $32,000
A new Food Traditions Kiosk will provide information and education about the Tribe’s historical use of plants and animals. It will also outline what the Tribe is doing to honor these uses through Tribal food sovereignty. Project assistants will produce informational materials, souvenirs, and Native seeds for guests. Finally, the Tribe will create a Tribal food sovereignty code and form a Food Sovereignty Committee that will pursue intertribal partnerships.

O Maku’u Ke Kahua Community Center, Pahoa, Hawaii: $31,550
The center will offer a series of intergenerational workshops to teach traditional practices, such as growing kalo―an ancestral food of Native Hawaiians. Participants will learn how to prepare, plant, care, harvest, and table the kalo. The workshops will integrate chants and prayers, legends, harvesting practices, and cooking classes for family members.

Pinoleville Pomo Nation (PPN), Ukiah, California: $31,996.56
PPN will expand its 54 raised-bed garden to include another greenhouse, an irrigation system, and protective fencing to keep out deer and other animals. The PPN Youth Council will work in the garden with mentors to learn about food sovereignty, community gardens, community distribution, and the farmer’s market. All Tribal members are welcome to work with the staff dietician and gardener to learn how to create healthy meals with produce from the garden.

Seneca Nation of Indians, Irving, New York: $32,000
This grant will fund an advertising campaign to introduce the regional community to Gakwi:yo:h Farms as a source for local, chemical-free foods produced through ecologically sound, sustainable methods―with an emphasis on white corn, maple products, and bison. The campaign will target schools and restaurants in the Seneca Nation’s Allegany and Cattaraugus Territories. Ads will run in at least three local newspapers, on local radio stations, and online for four months.

Shinnecock Indian Nation, Southampton, New York: $26,000
The Tribe’s Traditional Food System Project includes workshops and hands-on trainings for community members who hunt, fish, forage, and grow food. Participants will help identify the most pertinent information to pass on to 25 young students and later, adult learners. Other project components include environmental brochures on safe food harvesting, a seasonal food calendar, a food chart with nutritional information and serving suggestions, and recipes to encourage healthy choices.

Stockbridge-Munsee Community, Bowler, Wisconsin: $32,000
Plans are to expand the community garden from one acre to five acres. The larger garden will include traditional foods, 150 fruit trees and vegetables―and will accommodate the traditional farming practice of the Three Sisters, which includes Lenape corn, beans and squash. The Tribe will produce six videos on growing traditional crops and offer four, hands-on classes. The goal is to increase access to fresh, locally grown foods and provide food security for many generations.

Tewa Women United, Santa Cruz, New Mexico: $32,000
This project will provide an initial 10-15 Indigenous mothers and families with education and materials to produce their own food; it will help 10 more families later. Highlights include two community workshops on rematriating seeds, food and seed sovereignty, garden basics, plant information, technical support, and a check-in and review on lessons learned. Other goals include a collaboration with members of the New Mexico Food and Seed Sovereignty Alliance to develop a path for future work.

The Quapaw Tribe of Indians, Quapaw, Oklahoma: $32,000
The Tribe will expand its food market that connects producers to market opportunities to increase capacity, revenue, and local control of the food system. It will transition the farmer’s market to a food hub per state policy and obtain licensing to store, package, and sell food to the public. Other plans include a marketing rebranding and name change; and the formation of a strategic planning board comprised of agricultural leaders who will develop a strategic plan.

Two Feathers Native American Family Services, McKinleyville, California: $30,850
The Two Feathers Food Sovereignty Program will recruit six cultural leaders from local Native nations to make up a Food Sovereignty Advisory Circle that represents a diversity of local Tribes. In collaboration with community partners, seasonal food sovereignty workshops or camps will be offered to at least 50 Native youth and adolescents to stimulate community-wide engagement and investment in local Native food-sovereignty practices.

United Houma Nation, Golden Meadow, Louisiana: $32,000
The Nation plans to revitalize Yakani Ekelanna, a Houma community garden and farm. The grant will fund many interconnected projects, such as the clearing and rehabilitation of fields for large-scale planting, repairs of farm structures, an assessment of utilities infrastructure and creation of a food forest. Other proposed plans include a volunteer program for farm work, free/subsidized planter boxes for the community, elder teaching days, and a traditional medicine garden.

United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, Tahlequah, Oklahoma: $32,000
The Tribe will create a small gardening area with greenhouses to monitor food production and growth rates. The goal is to develop a self-sustaining resource for traditional and cultural food production markets in Oklahoma. Tribal Youth will assist elders with planting and will learn traditional and current farming methods. Trainings and outreach materials will help promote food sovereignty in the Tribal community. A strategic plan will serve as a resource for food production and knowledge for future generations.

Waimea Hawaiian Homesteaders’ Association, Inc., Kamuela, Hawaii: $32,000
Thanks to this grant, the association will expand its food basket program called “Umeke ‘Ai.” This program has fed more than 1,200 Hawaiian residents since the pandemic shut down access to healthy Hawaiian foods from farmers, ranchers, and fisherman, who were greatly impacted financially. The association will also use the funds to develop a Native Hawaiian Health Center and the Waimea Nui Community Development Initiative, which addresses the agricultural, cultural, health, and recreational needs of the community.

Wisdom of the Elders, Inc., Portland, Oregon: $32,000
The Wisdom Agricultural Business Incubator (WABI) trains up to 12 Native interns annually who aspire to a career in agriculture/horticulture and/or business development. WABI’s goal is to contribute to a more equitable future for program participants by engaging in culturally informed responsive education that sets up interns to build their own businesses. Wisdom of the Elders believes that a future filled with successful Indigenous agricultural leaders is foundational to true food sovereignty.

Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, Hogansburg, New York: $32,000
This grant will fund many Tribal projects, such as an irrigation system for a three-acre outdoor vegetable operation; a seasonal worker to co-ordinate expanded operations and assist with production; and a focused marketing campaign to improve awareness and education on the importance of eating fresh produce to support a healthy lifestyle among the 8,460 community Tribal members residing within Tribal lands.

Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC), Fairbanks, Alaska: $32,000
This project promotes traditional ways of life and food sovereignty through awareness, advocacy and storytelling. Five videos will be produced to promote healthy and traditional food practices in the TCC region. In addition, an advocacy toolbox will be created to promote Tribal governance and food sovereignty. Finally, TCC will develop an awareness campaign to highlight barriers and challenges to food systems and food sovereignty.

Tribal Nations Research Group (TNRG), Belcourt, North Dakota: $32,000
This project will create the foundation to grow, stabilize and encourage the development of the food and agriculture sector for the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. It will increase participation in the food and agriculture industry, and leverage existing resources, such as the Food Code Policy drafted by TNRG in 2019. The research group will meet with local participants in the food/ag industry to evaluate the implementation of its food code.

Ekvn-Yefolecv, Weogufka, Alabama: $32,000
This ecovillage community of Indigenous Maskoke people seeks to utilize, retain, and control traditional agricultural/ecological knowledge, transmitted in the Maskoke language. The community will use the grant to buy more guinea hogs to increase the herd to 160 and to build fencing. Ekvn-Yefolecv language-immersion students will be involved in all processes, and will articulate a daily guinea hog farming routing in the Maskoke language. The overall goal is to create a holistically healthy society of Maskoke People.

More information about the GATHER Food Sovereignty Grant program, including previous grantees, can be found here.

About First Nations Development Institute

For 41 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