Conference looking to put healthy foods on plates
By Nate Wisneski
A conference aiming to get Native American tribes together
to discuss food solutions will be taking place April 15-18 at the Radisson
Hotel and Conference Center.
The Food Sovereignty Summit was developed by the First
Nations Development Institute, the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, the Intertribal
Agriculture Council and Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to foster
discussion related to Native American food systems. It is expected to have
about 250 attendees.
“The conference was developed so that we could bring
together tribes, tribal programs and Native nonprofit organizations to share
and learn from one another about successful programs aimed at food system control all taking place in Indian Country,” said
Raymond Foxworth, Senior Program Officer at First Nations Development
Institute. “This conference acknowledges that there are very exciting things
taking place in Indian Country related to Native food systems and that Native
communities do possess the knowledge and expertise to develop mechanisms for
food system control. This conference is a forum to bring together tribes,
tribal programs and Native nonprofits to share best practices, challenges and
Ted Skenandore, Tsyunhehwka Agricultural Supervisor, will be
presenting on white corn seed saving, aquaponics, and microgreens. He feels
feeding yourself is an important part of sovereignty.
“A lot of these different tribes, for their own specific
area, have their own traditional food crops. It could be the same crop but
farmed different because of conditions,” said Skenandore. First real step is
having that first garden. Start feeding themselves even on a small scale. Then
preserving their food is the next step. You aren’t going to start that right
away, it’s a building process.”
Skenandore also sees a link between disease and out of area
“The diseases that are coming in, you have to really think
about those. What we are growing are specific to our area help fight those
diseases. The local produce bought at grocery stores doesn’t have the vitamins,
the nutrients, they’re not growing to ripe and being picked before mature.
We’re really not getting those vitamins,” he said.
Foxworth echoed Skenandore’s thoughts on the link between
health issues and food.
“Everyone knows that many Native communities have
significant health issues related to diet and the consumption of unhealthy
foods, including high instances of diabetes, heart diseases and obesity. We
know that some Native communities continue to experience scarcity in terms of
access to food. We also know that
these dynamics of food scarcity and deteriorating health are related to poor
diets are issues that are new to tribal societies and largely a result of
colonization, federal food distribution programs, and lack of healthy and
nutritious food options available in Native communities,” Foxworth added. “Tribes
should take an active role in aspects of food, diet and health to continue to
grow strong and healthy tribal citizens and communities that can continue to
thrive in the 21st century and beyond.”
Conference organizers are hoping goers take information
learned and apply them in their own communities.
“We hope that attendees take the information learned at the
conference back to their communities and use this information to develop
projects and programs that can increase Native food system control,” said
For more information about
the conference visit firstnations.org and click on the Food Summit tab.