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INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY: MSU Sending Tribal College Students on New PATHS to Food Sovereignty

Students will learn how to further food sovereignty this summer during PATHS program

 

 
 

Danielle Antelope, an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe, is one of several tribal college students who will have a unique opportunity to spend six weeks at Montana State University this summer, earn some money, engage in hands-on lab work and learn how to advance food sovereignty—and health—in Indian country.

The United States Department of Agriculture has awarded Montana State University $280,000 over three years to support the PATHS, or “Pathways to Agriculture and Native foods, Tribal Health and Sovereignty,” program. Principal Investigator Holly Hunts, an associate professor in Montana State University’s College of Education, Health and Human Development, said: “This is an interdisciplinary effort to look at problems and solve them. We are exponentially smarter when we work together.”

Eric Birdinground, a senator in the legislative branch of the Crow Tribal government and chair of the tribe’s Health and Human Services Department, said an important feature of the PATHS program is that students will bring back what they learn to their community. Richard Little Bear, president of Chief Dull Knife College, sees another benefit as well. “Our students have a hard time leaving the college, and the reservation, so PATHS and similar programs provide a bridge to the four-year mainstream institutions.”

And of course the primarily focus of the program—agriculture and food sovereignty—are crucial. “The program will educate them about foods in general and about our own Native foods. That part is helpful because so many of us have gotten dependent on the Walmart system of distribution of our food,” Little Bear said.

Food Sovereignty, Tribal Colleges, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Montana State University, Native American Students, PATHS Program, United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, Indigenous Food Systems, Agriculture, Donald Trump Budget, Trump Budget

This graphic explains what the PATHS program is. Montana State University/Facebook

Janie Simms Hipp, Chickasaw Nation, is founding director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law. She said the MSU program complements the work being done at her university, and she will be helping to implement the PATHS program. “There is a desperate need to have a strong group of students who are ready to step into extremely important tribal leadership roles as soon as possible,” she said, and this program will help train them.

Students will spend six weeks this summer at MSU where they will work in different labs, go on field trips to tribal agricultural projects, and engage in other creative learning experiences. When they return to their tribal colleges and universities, the program will stay connected with them for a full year until they come back to MSU for another six weeks next summer, at which point they should be ready to pursue a research interest of their own.

The research opportunity is what has Antelope’s attention. “I’m really excited about the research because when I was a junior in high school I did the MAP program at Bozeman. You go there for eight weeks and do research and take classes. That was a great time for me. So this time, six weeks, being on campus, being an adult, having my family with me. I’m really excited to get that campus life, the city—maybe I won’t be so scared when it comes time for me to leave to continue my higher education.” Antelope, 21, is working on her associate’s degree at Blackfeet Community College.

“Our goal is that they will want to finish a four-year degree in agriculture or food or nutrition or some health field. We’d be happy if they came to MSU,” Hunts said. The university would welcome more Native American students, especially in areas like cell biology and neuroscience and biochemistry, she said.

The PATHS program is open to students at any tribal college. The funding covers two cohorts of four to five students each, with each cohort attending the program for a total of 14 months beginning in the summer of 2017 and the summer of 2018. The program includes a $1,500 stipend for the summer, $1,500 during the academic year and another $1,500 the following summer. Additional funds cover housing, food during the summer sessions, in-state and out-of-state travel, lab costs and supplies, a total of over $14,000 per student over 14 months each will participate. Native American mentors who have successful track records at MSU in either food sovereignty, nutrition, agriculture or health will work with students throughout the program.

“In the second summer, we’ll go to Washington, D.C. so students can meet with the federal movers and shakers in agriculture,” Hunts said. “We want to make sure they are connected to policy makers and know how to get policy changed.”

Hipp said the Washington trip and introducing students to how the federal government makes policy is an essential part of getting them ready to serve their communities. “This component is especially important right now when USDA is getting reorganized and the president’s budget calls for literally doing away with some of the key programs that tribal governments have relied upon to build up the food sovereignty movement. We can’t stand by and say we’ll deal with it later,” she said.

Another immediate benefit of the program, Hunts said, is that “students will also be really employable by the end of the 14 months, with lab, data entry and library skills.”

Core members of the PATHS team at MSU are Hunts; David Sands, a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology in the College of Agriculture; Ed Dratz, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the College of Letters and Science; Florence Dunkel, an associate professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and Plant Pathology; and Claire Sands Baker, a longtime nonprofit consultant.

For more information, contact PATHSMSU@gmail.com or text 406-599-9457. Information is also available on Facebook.

 

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Food Insecurity, Food Deserts, Food Sovereignty, and the Impacts of the Farm Bill on Indigenous Peoples in the face of Global Warming

Janie Simms Hipp (Chickasaw Nation), lawyer, scholar, author, and founding director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law (http://indigenousfoodandag.com/), joined American Indian Airwaves to discuss food insecurity, food deserts, food sovereignty, cultural sustainability, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK),  the impact of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) historical operations excluding Indigenous farmers, and the potential consequences of the Farm Bill of 2018 on Indigenous peoples and their respective First Nations. There are more than fifty million acres of active agriculture lands within Indigenous Nations. Indigenous farmer operators, indeed, comprise of 39.2 percent out of all non-white farm operators, and the Farm Bill is revisited and revised every five years by the United States Congress. 

Click the audio player below to hear the interview.

 

American Indian Airwaves regularly broadcast every Thursday from 7pm to 8pm (PCT) on KPFK FM 90.7 in Los Angles, FM 98.7 in Santa Barbara, FM 99.5 China Lake, FM 93.7 North San Diego, WCRS FM 98.3/102.1 in Columbus, OH, and on the Internet @ www.kpfk.org.

Missed shows for the past 60 days can be accessed at: http://archive.kpfk.org/

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DOI Secretary Zinke to attend NCAI Mid Year Conference

WASHINGTON, D.C. | U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke is confirmed to attend the National Congress of American Indians 2017 Mid Year Conference & Marketplace at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn., held from Monday, June 12 to Thursday, June 15, 2017.

“We are looking forward to hosting Secretary Zinke during NCAI Mid Year,” said NCAI President Brian Cladoosby. “This year’s theme ‘Sovereign Infrastructure: Building our Communities through our Values’ is an important conversation we will continue to build upon with the Department of the Interior and the Administration in the years to come.”

“It is a great honor to accept the invitation to speak at NCAI’s Mid Year Conference,” said Zinke. “This will give tribal leaders and I an opportunity to discuss ways to empower the front lines of tribal communities.  I am a supporter of building a stronger government-to-government relationship that will reaffirm tribal sovereignty, self-determination and self-governance in Indian Country.”

As the fifty-second U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Zinke leads more than 70,000 employees who supervise 20 percent of the nation’s lands, including national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges and other public lands. The Department of the Interior (DOI) oversees the responsible development of conventional and renewable energy supplies on public lands and waters; is the largest supplier and manager of water in the 17 Western states; and upholds trust responsibilities to the 567 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes.

Prior to his position as DOI Secretary, Zinke represented the state of Montana in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2014 to 2016, and in the Montana State Senate from 2009 to 2011. Secretary Zinke is a fifth-generation Montanan and former U.S. Navy SEAL Commander, in which he spent 23 years as a U.S. Navy SEAL officer.

Pre-register today for press credentialing using our form here:http://bit.ly/2raRr8a.

On-site press credentialing takes place on Tuesday, June 13, 2017 and Wednesday, June 14, 2017 from 7:30 AM EST – 5:00 PM EST.  Credentialed press will have access to all plenary sessions, as well as those sessions noted for press access on the agenda.

Please note all press are required to wear press badges at all times and are asked to please announce yourself to the moderator of each session you plan on attending.

For additional information, please view NCAI’s 2017 Mid Year Draft Agenda here or contact NCAI Communications Associate Erin Weldon with any questions at ncaipress@ncai.org.

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About The National Congress of American Indians:

Founded in 1944, the National Congress of American Indians is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country. NCAI advocates on behalf of tribal governments and communities, promoting strong tribal-federal government-to-government policies, and promoting a better understanding among the general public regarding American Indian and Alaska Native governments, people and rights. For more information, visit www.ncai.org.

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Register NOW for “So You Think You’re Exempt?” webinar

Many Native American farmers, ranchers, and food operations within tribal jurisdictions conduct business with the assumption that their activities are protected under the sovereign rights of their tribe. While this may be true for some activities, with food safety compliance it certainly may not be the case. This is an individual farm-by-farm, farm business-by-farm business, ranch-by-ranch determination as there are no “overall exemptions” for Tribal farms, ranches, and food businesses. This session will cover the importance of food safety certification in ALL types of tribal food operations and the potential liability that Native farmers and food businesses face if they choose to ignore FSMA compliance or believe incorrectly they are exempt when they are not. Please join us to review the essential information necessary to protect your family, your products, and your business.

“Our farmers and food producers in Indian Country are not exempt from food safety regulations,” IFAI Director Janie Hipp said. “That decision is based on a deep analysis of what you are growing, where it is marketed, where and who is your end consumer of the food, and other factors.  People may not want to hear it, but if your food makes someone sick, and the food is traced back to you, you may be responsible for a series of required events that you aren’t prepared to do.  Tribal sovereignty may not protect you. All these issues and many more will be discussed at this webinar.”

 

Register NOW for this critical food safety training.

 

Thursday, June 15, 2 – 4 pm Central

“So You Think You’re Exempt?”

https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/733332857035158275

 

 

There are more webinars in this series, please visit our website to register for all remaining webinars. All presentations are free and open to the public. Many of the presentations use Produce Safety Alliance approved materials and serve as an important preparation for attending in-person events.

If you you have any questions, please contact Food Safety Coordinator Sandy Martini at smartini@uark.edu.

 

 

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Martinez wins Indian Ag Youth Alliance essay contest

Martinez wins Indian Ag Youth Alliance essay contest

Mackenize Martinez, a member of the Native Youth in Food and Agriculture Leadership Summit class of 2016, was recently awarded first place and a $500 check in the Intertribal Agriculture Council Indian Ag Youth Alliance Essay Contest.

Martinez’s essay addressed the need for intertribal agriculture extension services in Indian Country and described her vision for the future of Native American agriculture.

“I feel that food sovereignty is important in Indian country because it is such a necessity in everyday life,” Martinez said. “All Native American tribes have some sort of ancestral connection to agriculture.”

When Martinez talks about food sovereignty, she’s referring to the right of Native American peoples to create and define their own food systems through environmentally sustainable and culturally relevant methods and processes.

The goal of organizations like the Intertribal Agriculture Council that recognized Martinez’s essay, is to strengthen the food sovereignty of Indian Country by providing extension services and technical assistance to Native American communities and reservations across the United States.

“Many native communities are very rural and isolated,” Martinez said. “For them to be able to feed themselves would drastically help the economy of their communities and essentially improve the quality of life on reservations.”

Martinez understands rural isolation and its connection to agriculture. The high school senior is based out of Zwole, La., with a population of 1,984 according to a 2013 census, where she has been involved in showing livestock and gardening since her early youth.

“I showed my first hen in fourth grade, but I did it on and off, it wasn’t every year, and I showed pigs when I was in the eighth grade,” Martinez said. “My family’s always had our garden … it definitely took everybody to keep it going.”

Throughout her high school years, she said she has been heavily involved with Future Farmer’s of America, competing in extemporaneous speaking, and agronomy and floriculture events.

She also conducts Broiler chicken projects, where she raises 15 to 20 chicks for livestock presentation and meat production. “We’re trying to grow these birds from a six ounce chick to a ten pound bird in seven weeks.”

Martinez is a proud citizen of the Choctaw-Apache Tribe of Ebarb, La., whose headquarters are in Zwole. The tribe was recognized by the state of Louisiana in 1978, and has been working toward federal recognition ever since.

In her essay, Martinez discussed how state recognized tribes could play a greater role in improving agriculture throughout Indian Country.

“I feel that all of Indian Country would benefit from state recognized tribes playing a bigger role in food sovereignty because there are so many successful agricultural producers who aren’t members of federally recognized tribes,” Martinez stated in an email. “State recognized tribes are such a prolific agricultural force on their own and have to be very independent and self sufficient.

“State recognized tribes have so much potential to really advance the movement for food sovereignty in Indian country.”

Martinez’s essay was one of three winning papers in the Indian Ag Youth Alliance essay contest and conference, which brought together 56 Native American youth for a modified version of the IAC’s 30th annual membership meeting in Las Vegas, Dec. 4-8, 2016.

The annual meeting is designed to educate, empower, and strengthen the ever-growing network of Native American farmers, ranchers and agriculturalists working throughout Indian Country.

To enter the essay contest and be accepted to the conference, youth were asked to read the 1987 Final Findings and Recommendations of the National Indian Agricultural Working Group, a report that laid the foundations for establishing the Intertribal Agriculture Council.

Martinez said she was shocked when she found out that her paper was one of the winning essays.

“When I found out I’d actually won the essay contest I was like ‘woah,’ this is cool.“ Martinez said. “And then I actually got to Vegas and saw how big of a deal they made out of it, and how much of an honor it was to actually win it, and that really opened up some more doors too, so it was a really great experience.”

After giving her speech, Martinez was offered a scholarship to attend the University of Arkansas. She said after considering her options, the young agriculturalist has decided to attend McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., where she’ll pursue a major in agricultural business.

“I’d really like to study it and relate it to how it affects my own community,” Martinez said. “And learning some management skills is something everyone needs.

“I think when you talk about agriculture and its importance, you have to know that it affects everybody everyday, so it’s not something to be taken lightly.”

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Hipp receives public advocate award from NCAIED

Hipp receives public advocate award from NCAIED

The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative Director Janie Simms Hipp received the 2017 Tim Wapato Public Advocate of the Year Award at the annual National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development conference.

The award was presented on March 14 at the 31st National Reservation Summit American Indian Enterprise Luncheon held at the Mirage in Las Vegas.

She was selected for the award based on her leadership and exemplary commitment to advancing economic progress in the American Indian business community.

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