This Week at First Nations: January 26, 2024

Exploring Ecological and Just Food Systems at EcoFarm Conference 

Last week, First Nations’ Nourishing Native Foods and Health and California Tribal Fund staff members joined colleagues at the 44th Annual EcoFarm Conference, where we helped organize more than six skill-building workshops.

One of those sessions was “Tribal Food Supply Chains: Lessons from our Grandparents,” in which A-dae Romero-Briones (Cochiti/Kiowa) led a panel with Maria Givens, principal researcher at Tahoma Peak Solutions; Jason Belcourt, sustainability coordinator for the Rocky Boy Chippewa Cree Tribe; and Sammy Gensaw, co-founder and director of Ancestral Guard. The panelists discussed how, in Indian Country, food chains operate very differently from mainstream supply chains. Yet, in addressing supply chain issues in our communities we often use mainstream language and measures that do not reflect our cultural practice and values. They underscored the strength of tribal food supply chains and the importance of measuring our work and impact in our own words.


Save the Date for Support for Tribal Nature-Based Solutions: March 20, 2024

As part of our new project Advancing Tribal Native-Based Solutions, launched under our Stewarding Native Lands’ Climate initiative, First Nations will award six grants of $200,000 over 22 months to support Native community-based projects that build adaptive capacity and disaster preparation through the application of Native knowledge and nature-based solutions. Learn more about the project here, and look for the application opening, March 4. Reserve your spot now for the Q&A application webinar, March 20, 2024 – Register here.

This project is made possible through support from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies and First Nations’ Tribal Lands Conservation Fund.


Q&A Webinar Next Week for Native Language Immersion Program Funding

The application window for First Nations’ 2024 Native Language Immersion Initiative grant opportunity is now open. Apply by March 4, 2024, for support to build the capacity of Native-controlled nonprofit organizations and tribal government programs that actively advance Native language immersion programs.

Questions about the application process? Attend the free Q&A webinar next Tuesday, January 30, 2024, at 1 pm Mountain Time. Register here.


Meet Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow Martha A. Austin

When Martha A. Austin (Diné), a fluent Navajo speaker, was 17 years old, she began working for Dr. Oswald Werner, a linguistic anthropologist, on a federally funded project to develop the Navajo Ethno-Medical Encyclopedia (NEME). Now at 74, Austin is picking up where Werner’s team left off. “My fellowship goal is to complete Volume III on conception, pregnancy, and childbirth, and make it ready for publication.” Long-term, the retired chairperson of the Center for Diné Studies at Diné College aims to complete all 10 NEME volumes, with partial English translations. “We’re losing our language, our culture, and people tell me to … keep moving forward with what I do.”

Read more about this 2023 Luce Indigenous Knowledge Fellow and her work on the NEME here.


Funding Opportunity through USDA Value-Added Producer Grant Program

Applications are now being accepted for producer-owned or -controlled meat and poultry processing enterprises to seek funding for feasibility studies, business and marketing plans, and working capital. The USDA Rural Development’s Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program is designed to help farmers and ranchers generate new products, create marketing opportunities, and increase their income through value-added activities. Eligible applicants include independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer or rancher cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures. Flower Hill Institute has an overview of the VAPG, including links to the application and resource documents. Learn more and apply by April 11, 2024.


Army Refuses to Return Indigenous Boys’ Remains

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska is suing the United States Army for failing to comply with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), the federal law that requires museums and state agencies to return human remains and sacred objects to lineal descendants or culturally affiliated Indian tribes and organizations. In a suit filed last week, the Winnebago Tribe seeks to address the military’s ongoing violations in repatriating the remains of two of Winnebago’s boys, Samuel Gilbert and Edward Hensley, buried at the Carlisle Barracks Post Cemetery in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Read more from the Huffpost.

Photo credit Huffpost, Matt Slocum, Associated Press


25th Annual American Indian Studies Association Conference: Registration Open

The American Indian Studies Association at the University of New Mexico will host its 25th Annual Conference next week, February 1 and 2, 2024, with a free graduate pre-conference on January 31 in Albuquerque. A sample of sessions includes Indigenous literary expression for personal and community wellbeing and centering indigeneity in mental health, suicide prevention, and deathcare. A banquet and Native venders will also be featured. There is still time to register.