Current Projects

Seeds of Native Health

Seeds of Native Health – created and funded by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) is a major philanthropic effort to improve the nutrition of Native Americans across the country. It encompasses efforts to improve awareness of Native nutrition problems, promote wider application of proven best practices, and encourage additional work related to food access, education and research. First Nations is one of SMSC’s strategic partners in the effort. The campaign builds on localized efforts to solve the problems of Indian nutrition and hopes to raise awareness, spread knowledge, create capacity for change, and develop additional solutions on a broader scale.

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In 2016 First Nations awarded 15 grants totaling $422,500 under the Seeds of Native Health campaign.

Choctaw Fresh Produce, Philadelphia, Mississippi, $33,418

The “Choctaw Local Food Ambassador” program will hire an ambassador who will work to maximize the benefits of Choctaw Fresh Produce’s organic food operations for tribal members, particularly youth and low-income members. Among other activities, it will include coordination of training in organic growing, farm tours, mobile market, on-reservation sales to tribal programs (e.g. schools, health center, resort), surveying community needs/desires relative to foods grown, and improving the weekly community-donation program to low-income individuals to ensure no fresh produce goes unused. The ambassador will also coordinate the transition of one of the mini-farms to a community farm, and possibly the conversion of a high tunnel to a community garden model.

College of Menominee Nation, Keshena, Wisconsin, $34,332

The “Strengthening Menominee Health and Native Food System” project will provide members living on the Menominee Reservation and in surrounding areas with food education that aligns with Menominee traditions, while improving access to locally-produced food. The college will increase production of traditional, healthy food through the cultivation of a garden; increase community members’ financial accessibility to produce by implementing financial incentives for SNAP users and garden volunteers; educate Menominee students and elders about the history, cultivation, nutrition and culinary uses of traditional Menominee winter squash; and develop a five-year agriculture outreach business plan as a guide toward self-sufficient food initiatives.

Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Portland, Oregon, $30,000

This effort is focused on education about and adoption of food safety codes by the four Columbia River tribes (Nez Perce Tribe, Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, and the Yakama Nation) for fisheries to comply with the federal Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). Activities include developing a working group to review and identify issues, and presenting draft food-safety codes to tribal councils, expanding the fisher education program to include FSMA, and updating the fisher food-quality handling handbook to include information relating to the act and a checklist to help with compliance.

Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, Pablo, Montana, $34,343

The “Healing the Jocko Valley” project will increase nutrition and health knowledge by providing gardening and healthy cooking activities through monthly classes; provide opportunities to gather, prepare and preserve traditional Salish foods; increase access to healthy, locally-produced foods through a community garden and individual family gardens; create a one-acre plot that will include a community garden, greenhouse, camas baking pit, dry meat rack, and tipi learning/gathering area to prepare and preserve traditional foods; create accompanying interdisciplinary curriculum that will be disseminated and promoted to other schools; develop the project as a replicable model with activity toolkits; and create a network and learning community.

Grasshopper Livestock Association, Cibecue, Arizona, $10,000

The GLA Entrepreneurship and Growth Program will build on previous First Nations and USDA support to provide income for association improvements and potential income for association members through sale of cattle to the Native Beef program of LaBatt Foods.

Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission, Odanah, Wisconsin, $31,336

The “Manoomin – The Good Berry” project will work to strengthen local, tribal food systems by increasing awareness of and access to traditional Anishinaabe food knowledge, recipes and local tribal wild rice harvesters for all 11 member tribal communities: Bad River (Wis.), Bay Mills (Mich.), Fond du Lac (Minn.), Keweenaw Bay (Mich.), Lac Courte Oreilles (Wis.), Lac du Flambeau (Wis.), Lac Vieux Desert (Mich.), Mille Lacs (Minn.), Red Cliff (Wis.), Sokaogon-Mole Lake (Wis.), and St. Croix (Wis.). The project will do this through facilitated community outreach at tribal community events and tribal youth programs.

Kalispel Tribe of Indians, Usk, Washington, $28,270

The “Kalispel Family Gardens” project will increase food security by increasing the number of family gardens and providing gardening support to community members. It will expand on existing gardens that are primarily youth projects and traditional gardens. A community educational effort will provide workshops that address food and garden-related subjects, preservation methods, and that support traditional foods revitalization.

Klamath Tribal Health & Family Services, Klamath Falls, Oregon, $34,343

The Chiloquin Community Kitchen/Food Security program will increase access to healthy foods in Chiloquin, Oregon, which has a population of about 750 people with about 60% being Klamath tribal members. This grant adds funding needed to complete the food security building renovation to create a commercial-grade community kitchen and learning classroom, food storage and distribution center.

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Auburn, Washington, $17,418

The Traditional Healthy Beverage Campaign will work to reduce youth consumption of sugary drinks and increase the consumption of herbal teas, fruits and vegetables. To this end, the campaign will host a one-day education summit for at least 40 health educators and champions to discuss issues around consumption of unhealthy foods and beverages. The summit will also highlight opportunities for change. Finally, the campaign will develop a healthy beverage promotion campaign, including public education materials, a healthy beverage station toolkit and posters, and recipes for dissemination.

Nooksack Indian Tribe, Deming, Washington, $30,478

The “Nooksack Seeds of Health” project will establish a local community garden for Nooksack Indian Tribe members. It supports public health goals by focusing on nutritional education classes to increase individual knowledge of food choices related to chronic disease prevention and health promotion, especially for health education and prevention relating to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Northern California Tribal Court Coalition, Talent, Oregon, $37,761

The “Tribal Food Purity Project” will respond to the concerns of coalition member tribes over unregulated chemical pesticides on and around tribal lands. In close consultation with tribal environmental professionals, the coalition will draft legislation to limit the release of chemical toxins and provide for enforcement mechanisms. Enacted pesticide legislation is considered critical for the tribes to safeguard the health and well-being of youth, elders, mothers and vulnerable individuals within its jurisdiction, and ensure that land- and water-based food resources can be safely harvested and consumed.

Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College, New Town, North Dakota, $34,343

The “Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College Full Circle Nutrition Program” is a garden-to-plate program to improve the cultural connection to food, nutrition, skills and education of college students and staff, optimally preparing them to disseminate these to the community at large. Components include garden planning, planting, care, harvesting, and food-preservation to serve the cafeteria and campus, as well as composting and nutrition education.

Oyate Networking Project/Oyate Teca Project, Kyle, South Dakota, $33,072

The grant supports the “Medicine Root Gardening Program.”

Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Red Lake, Minnesota, $1,000

This grant supports the Red Lake Food Summit.

Squaxin Island Tribe, Shelton, Washington, $32,385

The “Squaxin Community Garden Project” will develop a tribal community garden on the Squaxin Island Reservation to sustainably improve food security and health outcomes for the community. The garden will be a tool for community members to build skills, grow healthy food, and build community through sustainable, small-scale agricultural production. The supportive programming will provide nutrition, food-preparation and preservation education.

In 2015 First Nations awarded 15 grants totaling $523,000 under the Seeds of Native Health campaign.

Bishop Paiute Tribe, Bishop, California, $40,000

This project will serve tribal members in surrounding communities by increasing access to traditional and organic foods through continued use of the existing Tribal Food Sovereignty Farm and the Tribal Community Market. The tribe will work toward farm sustainability, hold traditional food workshops and support use of local resources and land management.

Igiugig Village, Igiugig, Alaska, $39,794

This project will increase food security through greenhouse-grown fresh produce. It will also train local residents to preserve the food throughout the year as well as promote youth entrepreneurial opportunities through a traditional food stand.

Intertribal Agriculture Council, Billings, Montana, $17,887

This project will implement a tribally-supported agriculture project to improve access to healthy and traditional foods in the Great Lakes Region. There will be a promotional campaign to build interest, as well as a focus on improvements in online ordering.

Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Cass Lake, Minnesota, $33,743

This project will create a community garden at the tribal school that will focus on healthy and local meal choices. The tribe will purchase and develop a greenhouse and garden beds for students and community members to cultivate traditional crops, and conduct classroom lessons, workshops, trainings and other activities aimed at developing a holistic approach to wellness.

Little Big Horn College, Crow Agency, Montana, $40,000

This project will increase knowledge of and access to fresh produce through gardening, beginning on the Little Big Horn campus. It will also promote health through the exercise of gardening and by building respect for growing one’s own food. The project includes educational workshops and trainings.

Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, $40,000

This project will promote healthy eating using each household’s own land for food production. It will include classes on farming and gardening skills where community members will learn how to grow on their land as well as how to help their neighbors do the same.

Nez Perce Tribe, Lapwai, Idaho, $37,629

This project will promote good health, diet and exercise through community gardening and the building of a smokehouse and pavilion in the existing community garden that will be dedicated to processing local food.

North Leupp Family Farms, Leupp, Arizona, $34,650

This project will serve Navajo Nation residents in the southwest side of the reservation where there is little access to food. The grantee will purchase fresh produce from family farmers so it can be stored, processed, marketed and distributed to the food markets, schools, restaurants, elder centers and other places.

Painted Desert Demonstration Project, DBA the STAR School, Flagstaff, Arizona, $40,000

This project will engage Navajo youth students in growing, processing, cooking and serving meals to the community by constructing a greenhouse adjacent to the community kitchen. The students also will create recipes for the locally-grown foods and will explore entrepreneurial opportunities with the produce.

Pueblo of Nambé, Santa Fe, New Mexico, $37,404

This project will continue to teach the Indigenous traditional knowledge of farming and agriculture. The pueblo will hire two farm technicians to help expand the production of fresh produce and coordinate upgrades in equipment and irrigation to suit the expansion.

Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Red Lake, Minnesota, $39,171

This project will work to improve nutrition in the Red Lake Reservation as well as stimulate the local food economy. The tribe will educate community members on growing their own food, coordinate a pre-diabetes program, and enroll participants into educational 16-week trainings to promote health.

Seneca Diabetes Foundation, Irving, New York, $32,040

This project will work to restore Native plant usage in the community. The White Corn Project will focus on the cultivation, processing and distribution of white corn to the Seneca Nation through the use of farmers’ markets. They will use volunteers to assist and to raise community awareness.

The Suquamish Tribe, Suquamish, Washington, $28,773

This project will bring together elders and other community members through the building of five smokehouses where youth will be able to learn traditional skills to feed themselves and their families. They also plan to develop a culturally-based curriculum for tribal schools, conduct creative outreach for nutritional education, and reinforce the reciprocal relationship and responsibility to protect their homeland.

Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, Zuni, New Mexico, $40,000

This project will promote small-scale local agriculture, improve the local food system, and facilitate intergenerational knowledge exchange by constructing an outdoor learning space and farmers’ market area. It will also coordinate gifting some of the garden produce to the community as well as including it in the commercial food system.

Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, Porcupine, South Dakota, $21,909

The Food Sovereignty Initiative is a new project that will serve the Oglala Lakota Nation. The organization will assemble and coordinate a Lakota Food Sovereignty Coalition, continue the successful community garden program, as well as launch community education workshops targeting families and youth to encourage the development of a sustainable agriculture demonstration farm and an aquaponics greenhouse.

Sustaining Culture and Livelihood in Remote Igiugig Village, September 2016

With support from First Nations, the Yup’ik Eskimos, Aleuts, and Athabascan Indians are finding new ways to develop sustainable food sources and create opportunities for young people to succeed.