GATHER Food Sovereignty Grantees Announced

First Nations Awards Grants to 8 Community Partners to Improve Native Food Sovereignty

LONGMONT, Colorado (July 9, 2020) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today announced the eight grantees under its GATHER Food Sovereignty Grant Program. With this funding, each organization will be able to advance their work toward food sovereignty by investing in their local Native food systems leading to improved economies, health, and community policies. 

The eight community partners were chosen from over 97 applicants. The high number of applicants, according to A-dae Briones, First Nations’ Director of Native Agriculture and Food Systems Programs, is a testament to the progress being pursued and accomplished in Indian Country. “We’re again seeing tremendous innovation surrounding food systems. And now, with coronavirus further compounding the issues that these communities are facing, the work of these community partners will be even more important,” she said. 

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

The eight community partners are:

Aina Momona, Kaunakakai, Hawaii – $30,000

The Aloha Aina Fellowship’s “Community Mala Ai” or community food garden will be a “living pantry” for community members on Molokai. It will increase the community’s access to locally grown food and train 20 emerging native leaders in traditional agricultural skills who will attend weekly classes and trainings on natural resource management, civic engagement, community planning, and capacity building. Experts in traditional agriculture, permaculture, botany, and soil sciences will also assist in teaching the community and leading work days at the garden. The project will provide volunteer opportunities and promote food independence. Food will be grown onsite and will be distributed to in-need community members. In addition, workshops will be offered to increase community knowledge. 

Bay Mills Indian Community, Brimley, Michigan – $32,000

With support from Bay Mills Community College’s Waishkey Bay Farm, this project will develop a seed garden for the production, saving, and distribution of culturally-relevant agricultural seeds. Additionally, staff will create a seed catalog of cultural information, starting/planting instructions, and preferred conditions. Partnering with Michigan State University-Extension’s Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program will further allow the team to bring uncleaned seeds to local schools to teach youth about the importance of seed saving and home gardens. In addition, outreach campaigns created by Bay Mills Biological Services will further educate the public about the project, native plant restoration efforts, and local wild edible plants.

Feed Seven Generations, Enumclaw, Washington – $32,000

This organization will collaborate with the Enumclaw Plateau Farmers Market and the Muckleshoot Tribal Council to plan and implement a new, extended market to improve sales opportunities for Native American farmers and ranchers. In addition, Feed will develop and implement a marketing strategy to reach out to Tribal members, tribal farmers and food producers, engaging at least 10 individuals to sell at the summer market. Developing these relationships will be a critical part of this process. The project will further incent Tribal members with a $5 voucher that can be used to purchase products or product at the markets. 

Organized Village of Kake (OVK), Kake, Alaska, – $31,878 

This project is three-fold, including a potato project, fish camp, and community and clan outreach. The first component involves cultivating 90 pounds of potatoes during the first year, which will allow OVK to build community plots, recruit new gardeners, and plant in over 10 sites, with hopes to harvest 700 pounds or more in 2021 and in the following years. In recognizing Tlingit laws around clan and family management of fishing sites, the project will work with a committee of elders, the OVK teen center, and OVK staff to provide guidance on sites and activities.

Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians, Santa Ynez, California – $32,000

This program aims to develop a self-sustaining, self-governed system of food sovereignty building on four core components: dedicated land, trained staff, food production and distribution, and home garden establishment. Santa Ynez’s Cultural and Environmental Departments will work with the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden to develop a culturally-driven training program that specifically focuses on Indigenous foods. By the end of this program, there will be improved Chumash food sovereignty through policy, capacity, skill and knowledge building to provide and sustain healthy indigenous foods to the Chumash community.

Standing Rock Community Development Corporation (SRCDC), Fort Yates, North Dakota – $32,000

This project will support the SRCDC Food Sovereignty Initiative in moving toward true sovereignty and self-determination by gathering the knowledge of elders and the energy of members to fulfill the communities’ priority of regenerating lost practices. Community members will receive training on planting and harvesting traditional plants and medicines at Knife River National Park. Through a partnership with the Tribe’s Tribal Aging and Community Services Agency, SRCDC will distribute the traditional foods to the elderly in all eight districts. The final activity will consist of gathering, organizing, and developing training materials to continue the practice of traditional gardening.

The Hopi Foundation Natwani Coalition, Kykotsmovi, Arizona – $32,000

This project will result in the creation and delivery of a pre- and post-assessment of technical capacity in order to identify the status of traditional Hopi farming and food practices and community health. Over eight weeks, the Hopi Foundation will partner with Indigenous Pride Health Workers and other community partners to ensure the delivery of the survey across all villages, and at stores, meeting places, and workplaces. Upon completion of the survey, data will be entered, scrubbed, and analyzed. These learnings will be used to draft a food assessment report, leading to a community-wide collaboration to develop action plans for decision making, launching new initiatives, and improving existing programs.

Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center, Pendleton, Oregon – $32,000

The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation Department of Natural Resources and Yellowhawk Community Wellness will extend knowledge, access, and prioritization to ensure sustainability of First Foods and food systems. This collaborative will ensure that assessment data collected will be professionally analyzed and summarized to create long-term strategic planning around First Foods and food systems. This dialogue will occur through three community planning sessions resulting in a First Foods and Food Systems Strategic Plan. The project will also provide six First Foods excursions for the community, led by an elder/cultural advisor.

The GATHER Food Sovereignty Grant Program is part of First Nations’ overall approach to nourishing Native foods and health. Through this program area, First Nations has awarded over 341 grants since 2002, based on the recognition that without access to healthy food, a nutritious diet and good health are out of reach for all people, especially those in Native communities.

About First Nations Development Institute
For 40 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


Rana LaPine, First Nations Program Officer
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