Shakopee Mdewakanton to be first tribe to fund national AmeriCorps VISTA project serving 10 Tribal nations; volunteers will help tribes improve food access and nutrition
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) announced today its partnership with the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative (IFAI) to create a cadre of “Native Food Sovereignty Fellows.” The 21 initial fellows will be AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers working in teams in 10 low-resource Native American communities to establish and stabilize food sovereignty efforts, food systems, and tribal economies that build economic opportunities around food and agriculture.
As an initiative of its Seeds of Native Health campaign to improve Native American nutrition and food access, the SMSC is providing a $200,000 gift to fund the cost-share for VISTA members’ living allowance in the first year of the program. This represents the first time in VISTA’s 52-year history in which a tribe is providing funding to deploy VISTA members nationally.
“There is a nutritional health crisis in Indian Country, and its leading cause is the lack of access to healthy, affordable food. This partnership offers a new model to address food access problems at the tribal level,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig. “Our tribe is excited to support the work of AmeriCorps VISTA and IFAI to recruit and place teams of volunteers with the training, creativity, commitment, and strong work ethic needed to assist tribes in achieving better food access.”
The VISTA members will provide much-needed grassroots capacity combined with national intertribal assistance to reduce the number of poor and food-insecure communities in Indian Country. Preliminary discussions are underway with 10 tribal communities in Alaska, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Washington.
AmeriCorps VISTA, operated by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency, is the national service program established specifically to help alleviate poverty. Founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965 as the domestic version of the Peace Corps, VISTA taps the skills, talents and passion of more than 8,000 Americans annually to build the capacity of nonprofit organizations or local government agencies to carry out programs that tackle poverty.
“We are so proud to support this culturally competent and innovative approach to addressing specific Tribal community needs, by harnessing the organizational support available through our partner, the University of Arkansas’ Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative and the generosity of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux community,” said AmeriCorps VISTA Director Max Finberg.
The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law will recruit, train, deploy and supervise the work of these VISTA volunteers. IFAI was created by Dean Stacy Leeds at the University of Arkansas School of Law – the first female Native American law school dean in the country. It focuses on multi-disciplinary research, service and education in support of Native communities. The IFAI director is Janie Simms Hipp, a former advisor to the Secretary of U.S. Department of Agriculture. IFAI’s work encompasses groundbreaking tribal food code development, feeding program analysis, national food systems scans, and related projects. Each year, IFAI also hosts the Leadership Summit for Native Youth in Food and Agriculture, a 10-day educational event to build skills in food systems development and learn how food and agriculture policy impacts their tribal communities. To date, nearly 300 native students have participated in the summit.
“Tribes across the country are struggling to access healthy food and develop their own food systems,” said Dean Leeds. “The SMSC has been a longstanding leader in support of tribal sovereignty and now is the national leader working on improving Native nutritional health. Their support of AmeriCorps VISTA is critical to tackling hunger and food insecurity and building strong Native food systems in Indian Country. This new effort will take these commitments one step further and support the deployment of VISTA recruits within tribal communities to gain on-the-ground experience and assist tribes in their work towards healthy food access.”
About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized, sovereign Indian tribe located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Making its top priority to be a good neighbor, the SMSC is one of the top 10 philanthropists in Minnesota and donates more to charity than any other Indian tribe in America. It also focuses on being a strong community partner and a leader in protecting and restoring natural resources.
About Seeds of Native Health
Seeds of Native Health is the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s philanthropic campaign to improve Native American nutrition. Launched in 2015, the $5 million campaign has provided grants to local communities and funded research, education, and capacity-building efforts. Partners include the American Heart Association, First Nations Development Institute, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, the Notah Begay III Foundation, the University of Arkansas School of Law’s Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, and the University of Minnesota. More information is available at SeedsofNativeHealth.org.
About AmeriCorps VISTA
AmeriCorps VISTA is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and other programs, and leads volunteer initiatives for the nation. Since 1965, AmeriCorps VISTA has been at the forefront of helping communities across America alleviate poverty. Each year, more than 8,000 AmeriCorps VISTA members serve in 3,000 locations across the country, supporting programs that reduce homelessness, improve health services, expand job opportunities, develop financial assets, grow access to affordable food and housing, and expand access to technology for those living in rural and urban areas of poverty across America.
Food Tank, a nonprofit healthy food advocacy organization, recently released its “117 Organizations to Watch in 2017” and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative was honored to be placed on the list.
According to the organization, “Efforts to increase access to healthy and local foods, support farmers’ livelihoods, and improve the overall sustainability of the global food system are ongoing and continuously evolving thanks to businesses, organizations, and individuals committed to building a better food future. As we wrap up the year, we have crafted a small preview of what is to come.”
The Center for Indian Country Development at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis published its year end summary of accomplishments in 2016. Click the link below to read the CICD December 2016 Newsletter.
The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative has opened registration for its Credit and FSA Program Webinar Series. This webinar series has been developed by our leading faculty in the areas of business planning, market and financial risk planning, credit repair, specialized lending and appeals rights. These webinars will provide important skills training for those producers seeking credit for ownership and operation of farming and ranching enterprises and those seeking background for successful engagement in land fractionation lending opportunities.
We invite you to participate in this free webinar series conducted with generous support by USDA Farm Service Agency. To register please use the links provided for each webinar in the series. All webinars will be archived on the series webpage.
December 20, 2016, 2 pm Central: Business Planning to Prepare for FSA Applications
This session is designed to walk potential FSA loan applicants through the fundamental issues in business planning that will aid in their development of strong applications for loans and sustainable approaches to credit access and business performance for their food and agriculture enterprise. (Presenter: H.L. Goodwin Jr.)
January 10, 2017, 2 pm Central:Credit Repair Ahead of a FSA Loan Application
This session is designed to walk potential FSA applicants through the fundamentals of monitoring their credit and developing strategic approaches to repairing their credit should adverse credit reports appear on their records. The session will also discuss the many ways potential FSA loan applicants can prevent future problems in their credit reports. (Presenter: Erin Parker)
January 17, 2017, 2 pm Central: Financial Risk, Marketing Risk and Impacts on FSA ProgramCompliance
This program will discuss analyzing your risk in the marketplace and how you can best develop plans for handling those market risks. Your business and market plans are your keys to strategic success but they are also your tools to ensure FSA program compliance. (Presenter: H.L. Goodwin Jr.)
January 24, 2017, 2 pm Central: Youth Loans and Microloans: How to Prepare for Applications and How to Avoid Default
This session will discuss Farm Service Agency youth loans and microloans. These two tools are especially essential for beginning farmers and ranchers to build your operations and build your credit. The session will focus on program requirements for accessing and debt repayment under these programs and will discuss the key concerns when planning your business around these loan opportunities. (Presenter: H.L. Goodwin Jr.)
January 31, 2017, 2 pm Central: Your Rights of Appeal: Understanding the National Appeals Division When Applying for Loans and Debt Servicing
This session will introduce you to the purpose and history of the National Appeals Division and discuss the essential deadlines and process for appealing decisions made by the Farm Service Agency concerning your applications for loans and for loan servicing. Understanding your appeal rights and processes is also an essential skill when working with USDA. (Presenter: Toni Stanger)
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Quapaw Tribe is building a meat-processing plant near Miami, Oklahoma, and faculty from the University of Arkansas Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences and School of Law are collaborating to assist in the design and construction of the facility.
The plant, expected to be operational in May, 2017, will also provide U of A students with opportunities for experience and training.
Janie Hipp, director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative in the School of Law, speaks at the groundbreaking on Aug. 31. John Berrey, chair of the Quapaw Tribe and a 1991 U of A graduate, is to the right of Hipp, and H.L. Goodwin, Bumpers College professor and senior economist, is three spots to the right of Hipp. Photo by Anna McKibben
Harold L. Goodwin, a professor and senior economist for Bumpers College, and Janie Hipp, director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative in the School of Law, are helping with the business structure and completion of regulatory procedures. Mike Looper, head of Bumpers College’s Department of Animal Science, and Jason Apple, a professor of animal science, have provided input on design of the plant.
“It is envisioned there would be availability of the facilities for meat judging and grading training, and also for food safety and meat processing training,” said Goodwin, who also works with the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative. “Most likely, students involved would be from animal science and food science.”
Hipp said many Native American tribes have traditional cultural ties to food production.
“If you go back into individual tribes’ history on this continent, particularly before European contact, there were massive levels of food production,” said Hipp, who is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. “Tribes were not just hunting and gathering as ancient peoples on this continent. Many tribes were involved in food production historically and remain deeply involved in food and agriculture today. Tribes all across the United States have a rich history in food production and the Quapaw Tribe’s move into food processing and food science is an exciting next step.”
The plant will include a classroom, laboratory and test kitchen, and is being designed to process up to 50 animals per week.
“We have great expertise in meat and food science at U of A and are the center of expertise for tribal agriculture and food because of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative,” said Goodwin. “The proximity of the plant to Fayetteville (about 90 minutes away) makes it ideal for joint collaboration between the first U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified beef and bison processing facility owned by a Native American tribe and a land-grant university.”
“It’s about building an economy that’s agriculture-based that will support local businesses and feed local people, we’re hoping,” said John Berrey, chair of the Quapaw Tribe, a 1991 U of A graduate and member of the alumni association’s National Board of Directors. “Really it’s about taking advantage of our region and all the agriculture that takes place in this region. It’s a business opportunity for sure. It gives us an outlet for our beef products. It also gives us opportunity to take other peoples’ product and process it. It’s both community development and economic development for the tribe.”
The tribe has cattle and bison on a ranch outside Miami. The ultimate goal of the ranch is to raise, slaughter, process, package and ship its own products to local businesses and stores, including the tribe’s restaurants in Quapaw Casino and Downstream Casino Resort.
“Regaining our health in Indian Country is very important,” said Hipp. “You’ve got to have access to foods that are healthy and that are readily available. Investment in local infrastructure to make healthy foods more readily available is part of an important step in healthy food access. Without that infrastructure, tribes, which live in remote areas, are literally just waiting for that next truck to go by.”
Cost of construction is $1 million with $800,000 provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in grant funds. The tribe has applied for additional grants to help pay for equipment at the plant.
The tribe is also partnering with Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, Oklahoma State University and Missouri State University.
About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs.
About the University of Arkansas School of Law: The School of Law prepares students for success through a challenging curriculum taught by nationally recognized faculty, unique service opportunities and a close-knit community that puts students first. The school has been ranked among the top 10 “Values in Legal Education” by the National Jurist magazine for four consecutive years and is among the top 46 public law schools, according to U.S. News and World Report.
About the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative: The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative enhances health and wellness in tribal communities by advancing healthy food systems, diversified economic development and cultural food traditions in Indian Country. The initiative empowers tribal governments, farmers, ranchers and food businesses by providing strategic planning and technical assistance; by creating new academic and professional education programs in food systems and agriculture; and by increasing student enrollment in land grant universities in food and agricultural related disciplines.
About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs.
Seeds of Native Health: A Campaign for Indigenous Nutrition, has published more than 20 videos from its First Annual Conference on Native American Nutrition held September 26-27, 2016 at the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake, Minnesota.
The conference was a collaboration between the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the University of Minnesota. It was organized by a planning committee of Native and non-Native scholars and practitioners led by the university’s Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute.
The conference brought together more than 450 Native leaders, academics, and public health workers to collaborate and integrate traditional, Indigenous knowledge and Western, scientific research in order to combat the significant dietary factors contributing to profound Native health disparities.
The sold-out conference featured more than 30 world-renowned Indigenous nutrition experts and included participants from 32 states, five countries, and dozens of tribes.
Click the link below to view the presentation videos from the conference.
USDA Office of Communications sent this bulletin at 12/05/2016 12:04 PM EST
WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the appointment of six new members and the re-appointment of five members to the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching. As a discretionary advisory committee, the Council provides recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture on changes to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations and other measures that would eliminate barriers to program participation for Native American farmers and ranchers.
“The Council for Native American Farming and Ranching strengthens our partnerships with tribal governments, businesses, farmers, and ranchers,” Vilsack said. “Their work encourages participation of new and historically underserved agricultural producers in USDA programs, and reflects a strong intergovernmental relationship built upon shared values and inclusion.”
With the addition of a representative from the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Council membership is changing to better reflect the diversity of resources provided by the USDA. NRCS provides farmers, ranchers and forest managers with free technical assistance, or advice, for their land.
The Council consists of fifteen members, including four USDA officials and eleven Native American leaders and representatives. Members of the Council are appointed for two-year terms by the Secretary of Agriculture. The appointees may include: Native American (American Indian and Alaska Native) farmers or ranchers; representatives of nonprofit organizations that work with Native farmers and ranchers; civil rights professionals; educators; tribal elected leaders; senior USDA officials; and other persons the Secretary deems appropriate.
The following individuals have been appointed to the Council:
Angela Peter, Executive Director, Alaska Tribal Conservation Alliance, (Native Village of Tyonek), Tyonek, Alaska*
Erin Parker, Assistant Director for the Indigenous Food & Ag Initiative, University of Arkansas School of Law
Gilbert Louis III, Firefighter and Farmer / Rancher, (Acoma Pueblo), Grants, N.M.
Jerry McPeak, Farmer / Rancher and Former State Legislator, (Muscogee Creek), Warner, Okla.*
Mark Wadsworth, Range Conservationist for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, (Shoshone-Bannock), Fort Hall, Idaho*
Maggie Goode, Probation Officer and Farmer / Rancher, (Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes), Hot Springs, Mont.
Sarah Vogel, Civil Rights Attorney and Former Agricultural Commissioner for North Dakota, Bismarck, N.D.*
Sherry Crutcher, Rancher and Director of Natural Resources for the Shoshone Paiute Tribe, (Shoshone-Paiute Tribe), Owyhee, Nev.
Shannon McDaniel, Farmer / Rancher and Executive Director of Agriculture for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma), Durant, Okla.
Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of Lakota Funds, (Oglala Sioux), Kyle, S.D.* (*Denotes those re-appointed)
Four USDA officials are also appointed to the Council:
Jason Weller, Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service
Val Dolcini, Administrator, Farm Service Agency
Dr. Joe Leonard, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
Leslie Wheelock (Oneida), Director, Office of Tribal Relations
The Council will hold its next meeting on December 8 and 9 at the Flamingo Hotel, El Dorado room, in Las Vegas, Nev. Members of the public are invited to provide comments to the Council from 2-4 p.m. on December 8.
The Council will continue to work closely with the Office of Tribal Relations and other USDA agencies to improve the success of Native farmers and ranchers to access USDA’s entire portfolio of programs to build and support their businesses.
According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, there were 71,947 American Indian or Alaska Native farm operators in the United States in 2012, accounting for over $3.2 billion in market value of agricultural products sold. Tribal Nations were identified as one group that is an underserved segment of agriculture, and USDA Market News is answering the call to provide them with the commodity data they need.
USDA Market News – part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) – assists the agricultural supply chain in adapting their production and marketing strategies to meet changing consumer demands, marketing practices, and technologies. USDA Market News reports give farmers, producers, and other agricultural businesses the information they need to evaluate market conditions, identify trends, make purchasing decisions, monitor price patterns, evaluate transportation equipment needs, and accurately assess movement.
We are constantly evolving to meet the needs of industry and small producers. Food sovereignty is a big focus of many Tribal Nations. To help meet the needs of Tribal Nations and provide market transparency and pricing information, we developed the National Tribal Grown, Produced or Harvested report.
This report provides transparent market data for traditional Tribal commodities. Additionally, the report fills a significant traditional foods data gap. The National Tribal Grown, Produced or Harvested report is just in its infancy and will evolve as more commodities are added. Currently, there are two products included – wild rice from Minnesota and Wisconsin and maple syrup – on this quarterly report, but we hope to add additional traditional foods such as bison and honey in the future.
We are continually working to expand both the contact base and list of commodities reported. If you would like to contribute or assist in the endeavor, please reach out to us using the contact information on the current National Tribal Grown, Produced or Harvested report.
In addition to Market News data, AMS and the Food and Nutrition Service, work through USDA’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) to procure and distribute nutritious, wholesome food to about 85,000 program recipients living on or near reservations across the United States. Tribes work with us to help low-income families who may not have easy access to nutritious food for a number of reasons, including the fact that they live in remote areas with few grocery stores.
USDA offers a variety of programs and services that are available to Tribal Governments, Tribal communities and organizations, and individual Native Americans and Alaskan Natives. The Office of Tribal Relations (OTR) is dedicated to ensuring that Tribes have relevant information on the programs and services available at USDA. For additional information, visit the Office of Tribal Relations website.
Food Tank and the James Beard Foundation have selected the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative to be included in the third annual Good Food Org Guide, which features 1,000 organizations creating a better food system across the United States. Download the guide and check out the website HERE!
With the help of an advisory board of food system experts, Food Tank and the James Beard Foundation created the guide to feature organizations that are creating a better food system. The organizations in this year’s Guide are effecting change in kitchens, schools, churches, labs, businesses, community centers, governments, urban farms, fields, food banks, and more.
Since the inaugural Good Food Org Guide was released in 2014, it has highlighted groups who combat childhood obesity, malnourishment, and physical inactivity; prevent food waste; educate consumers on healthy, nutritious food choices; create networks of social entrepreneurs; protect food and restaurant workers; highlight solutions for restoring the health of people and the planet; work with indigenous communities to preserve traditions, culture, and biodiversity; inspire and educate individuals to cook more of their own food; and protect public health, human health, and the environment.
This year’s Guide, building on the success of the 2015 Guide, includes an online search tool. The website enables users to search for organizations by the region and category of the organization’s work. Each organization highlighted in the Guide has its own profile page, which includes their contact information, description, logo, social media links, location, photos, and related organizations.
”Working in collaboration with the James Beard Foundation, we are proud to bring the total number of listed organizations to the 1000 mark. It is a testament to the tremendous amount of growth and support we have seen in the ‘good food’ sector,” Danielle Nierenberg, president of Food Tank, said.
The video features outtakes from the 2016 Native Youth in Food and Agriculture Leadership Summit
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Nearly 100 Native American, Alaska native and Native Hawaiian students representing 51 tribes met at the University of Arkansas School of Law for a unique 10-day leadership summit to learn how food and agriculture policy impacts their tribal communities. The summit, sponsored and organized by the law school’s Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, is an annual event in its third year.
Applications for the 2017 summit are being accepted now and can be downloaded here.
During the summit, students engaged with a wide variety of guest speakers who presented topics including the history of American Indian Agriculture, business planning, ethnobotany and seed preservation, legal issues in Indian Country and the importance of traditional foods.
Janie Simms Hipp (Chickasaw), director of the Agriculture Initiative
Toni Stanger-McLaughlin (Colville), consulting attorney for the Agriculture Initiative.
The students were also treated to a presentation by Native American celebrity chef Sean Sherman (Lakota Sioux), also known as The Sioux Chef, who has become a leading advocate of preserving traditional foods and restoring an indigenous diet. The final speaker of the summit was Arthur “Butch” Blazer (Mescalero Apache), former U.S. Department of Agriculture deputy undersecretary for natural resources and environment, who spoke about the importance of tribal leadership.
Odessa Oldham (Navajo), founding camp director, said the summit is vitally important to the future of Native agriculture.
“Youth today are three to four generations removed from the land. At the summit we teach the youth the importance of agriculture and how we are connected through our culture. All of our tribes are connected to agriculture, through our ties to the land,” she said. “Our future is bright – we just need to believe in our youth and educate them on what agriculture really is.”
Learning extended beyond the classroom through visits to several agriculture operations and food businesses including the Cattle Company and Downstream Casino greenhouses of the Quapaw Nation, a Walmart distribution center, the U of A animal and food science laboratories and the Fayetteville Farmers Market. The summit field trips were capped with a full-day excursion to Daggs Farm in Stratford, Oklahoma, where students helped install irrigation systems and learned about small-scale chicken operations, cultivating ancestral plants and the importance of good nutrition and healthy lifestyles.
Zach Ilbery (Cherokee), one of the summit student leaders who runs a family-owned cattle operation in Checotah, Oklahoma, said he understands the value of the summit experience.
“The hands-on experience goes right along with the classroom work to teach students how to build a business plan from the ground up. The summit taught me that, and I’ve implemented it in my own operation. The summit can help students to start or improve their operation back home.”
The summit is sponsored by the U of A School of Law and Bumpers College, and it is funded by numerous supporting programs including the USDA Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program, Southern Extension Risk Management Education, Farm Credit, Intertribal Agriculture Council and First Nations Development Institute. Summit students receive an intensive and fun course in agriculture while getting an early glimpse at campus life and study.
“The University of Arkansas has long been recognized nationally as the go-to institution for training the next generation of food and agricultural leaders,” Leeds said. “In keeping with that tradition, the Native Youth in Food and Agriculture Leadership Summit has, in just three years, become a foundational program to launch the educational careers of hundreds of future contributors to agribusiness and tribal sovereignty.”
Planning for next year’s summit is underway. Native students aged 15 to 18 who are Native American, Alaskan Native or Native Hawaiian are encouraged to apply early. Please contact Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative recruitment officer Emerald Hames at email@example.com or 479-575-5128 for more information.