Launches Today, Reconnects Natives to Traditional Foods, Cultural Practices

April 15, 2013

Today First Nations Development Institute unveiled its new website geared at helping Natives reconnect with traditional foods and reinforcing cultural practices and customs.

By providing a valuable resource to a wide audience—Native American food producers, processors and consumers including Native families and growers— aims to promote food sovereignty while improving Native health and nutrition.

The website serves as a unique portal for argicultural and gardening information. Videos cover a variety of topics, such as hunting and food gathering as a spiritual experience, creating local economies around agricultre, and reducing food expenses with community gardens. Other short films spotlight organizations like the Northwest Indian Treatment Center, which is using traditional foods and medicines to reintroduce Natives to working with the land and their culture. The process plays a role in their recovery from alcohol and drug addictions. additionally provides up-to-date news on food sovereignty conferences and more. It spotlights positive food movements by tribes and Native organizations. And it hits on historical trauma and the need to reverse a tide of unhealthy eating resulting from the loss of land, nutritious foods and traditional lifeways. Other resources range from farms and markets, to youth programs and farm-to-school efforts, to seed saving, to traditional plants and medicine, to food marketing and handling, to home gardening, canning and healthy family eating.

Longmont, California-based First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) created the website with funding provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. For more than 32 years, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own—including human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources. The nonprofit also helps tribes establish new resources to assure their long-term vitality in the economy. Part of this effort centers on food, through First Nations’ Native Agriculture and Food System Initiative, or NAFSI.

Under NAFSI, First Nations also provides grants to numerous food and agricultural efforts by tribes and nonprofit organizations, and recently announced the awarding of 10 such grants totaling $375,000. First Nations, in partnership with the Taos County Economic Development Corporation in Taos, New Mexico, is also working to create the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, which is intended to become a sustainable and organized movement that is Native American driven and controlled, nationally active and dedicated to addressing food security, hunger and nutrition in Native American communities at the national, tribal and local levels.

"We believe that our work in the food sector has many benefits, all of which are critically important," noted Michael E. Roberts, president of First Nations, in a press release. "These include improved Native health and nutrition, of course, but also a reconnection with traditional foods and a reinforcement of our cultural practices and customs. Further, regaining control of food systems can provide a huge and much-needed boost to the development of Native economies."