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Outcomes Under the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative

January 1, 2018

A local food system includes all actions involved in the production, processing, transport, consumption and regulation of food. It also includes perceptions, understandings and values assigned to food within a given community. Prior to contact with Europeans, Native peoples had self-sufficient and sustainable food systems that persisted since time immemorial. Over time, removal from traditional homelands, limited access to traditional food sources, transitions to cash economies, and language loss, among other things, weakened tribal food systems. Today, many Native communities and households are food insecure, dependent on outside food sources, and maintain a diet of Western foodstuffs that are often linked to negative and deteriorating health, community and economic outcomes.Recognizing that the loss of self-sufficient food systems is a contributing factor to the myriad of issues Native communities face today, First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) works with and supports Native American communities in reclaiming local food-system control. Local food-system control is foundational to reversing years of colonization that aimed to destroy cultural and traditional belief systems and dismantle Native social and economic systems that were intricately connected to local food systems. If Native communities can control local food systems, food can become a driver for cultural revitalization, improving community health and well-being, and economic development.

Roots of Change: Food Policy in Native Communities

January 1, 2016

The food sovereignty movement in Indian Country has been spurred by the hard work and dedication of reservation based community and nonprofit organizations and forward thinking tribal governments. All are looking to sustain and protect traditional food sources, control local food systems and improve community, nutrition, health and economies. Increasingly, these various groups within the food movement in Indian Country are examining how tribal policy and legislation can be used to change behaviors related to diet, health and economy and increase regulatory control over local food systems.The organizing efforts of tribes and community groups bring to light several important questions about tribal food policy and legislative authority, including:1) What is the history of law and policy in Native communities, especially related to food policy development?2) What is food policy in Native communities?3) Can we identify factors that may stimulate and stall food policy development and effectiveness in Native communities?In this report, we attempt to address these questions and provide a greater understanding of tribal food policy development across Native communities. This report is not intended to be an extensive review of the legislative interaction between tribes and the federal government. Rather it is a starting point to further the conversation about the opportunities and challenges that Native nations may face when examining and enacting recent food policies.

American Indian Leadership: Strengthening Native Communities and Organizations (Winter 2013)

March 14, 2014

Despite attempts to diminish, belittle and totally transform Native concepts, belief systems and values of leadership, strong leadership remains one of the most important assets in Native communities. American Indian leaders have held steadfast to tribal belief systems and values and fought for the preservation and perpetuation of Native identity, land and sovereignty. Leaders of Native nations today are still committed to these values. Native leaders still recognize that strong, ethical and innovative leadership from various sectors has the ability to transform American Indian communities.The primary goal of this paper is to provide a brief overview of American Indian leadership within an historical perspective, including what led to the development of tribal governments and Indian-led organizations today. Drawing on data from more than 93 leadership programs, organizations and initiatives, this paper provides a summary of findings on the current state of leadership programs in Native communities. Based on these findings, this paper offers recommendations for proceeding with the development of Native leadership programs in American Indian communities.