Current Projects

Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaign / Policy Innovation Fund

As part of the Nourishing Native Foods & Health Program, First Nations’ Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaign supports Native American-led efforts aimed at advancing new policies and innovative policymaking at the tribal, local, state and national levels in ways that ultimately improve the health and nutrition and Native communities.

Launched in 2019, the Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaign is 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 is a continuation of the SMSC and American Heart Association’s partnership to promote Native-led dietary health advocacy, which first began with the Seeds of Native Health program 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.

Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaign grants were awarded through a competitive process to tribes and Native-led organizations to support innovative projects. First Nations administers the grant process and the American Indian Cancer Foundation provides technical assistance to grantees.

From developing fundamental food codes to reinforcing legal rights for wild rice, the grantees highlighted here are advocating for their communities and investing in Native fertile ground, and thus the health, nutrition and future of their people.

2020 Grantees

American Indian Community Housing Organization: $78,122

Through the Zaaga’iganing Anishinaabe Food Sovereignty Policy Initiative, this organization will 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

Through the Codification and Creation of Agricultural (Nutrition) Standards for the Blackfeet Nation project, this organization will customize and codify tribal standards to promote healthy food production and 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

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

The Lummi Food Sovereignty project will 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

Niibi Center Institute for the Rights of Nature project will 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

Turtle Mountain Food Code Initiative will 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

Through the Yurok Fertile Ground Project, Yurok Tribe will 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.

2019 Grantees

California Indian Museum & Cultural Center (Santa Rosa, California): $81,667

The Ma Pʰidin: Protecting Our Ground project serves Native people of all ages from 24 Pomo and Miwok tribes in Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties in Northern California. These tribes have limited access to traditional food resources, so the project will focus on removing barriers to access, such as updating county park codes, which currently prohibit gathering food. The project also includes conducting a community assessment, engaging stakeholders and developing recommendations to ensure tribal and county leaders can address barriers and improve nutrition and health.

Karuk Tribe (Happy Camp, California): $81,667

The Yav Pananu’avaha: Karuk Tribe’s Our Good Food project supports developing, advocating and implementing policies that promote tribal food sovereignty. Our Good Food will improve access to Native foods for community members and food-service programs; promote healthy choices for K-12 students through Native health lessons and a youth-led food sovereignty campaign; and encourage comprehensive implementation of the Karuk Tribe Food Policy in all tribal events. The project also will advocate for changes to school, summer, community and elder food-service programs and finalizing the tribe’s food sovereignty policy through research and community engagement.

Port Gamble S'Klallam Foundation (Kingston, Washington): $80,000

The Port Gamble S’Klallam Shellfish Grow-Out Expansion Project will focus on ways to sustain and expand natural shellfish resources for a healthy traditional diet of the S’Klallam tribal community. The project will develop shellfish aquaculture policy, conduct community outreach focused on sustaining shellfish populations for community subsistence and later expand the shellfish population for commercial production.

The Code to Better Health, June 2021

With funding coming in part through First Nations’ Fertile Ground Advocacy Campaign, Tribal Nations Research Group has been able to invest in food policy to improve the local food systems and food economy of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa community.