Reclaiming Native Food Systems’ Report Highlights Innovation, Ingenuity and Resiliency of Tribes

Jul 30, 2013


‘Reclaiming Native Food Systems’ Report Highlights Innovation, Ingenuity and Resiliency of Tribes

LONGMONT, Colorado (July 30, 2013) –A newly released report from First Nations Development Institute (First Nations), titled “Reclaiming Native Food Systems,” focuses on 13 grant projects funded by First Nations through support provided by the Walmart Foundation.

The report explores various approaches to reclaiming Native food systems and attempts to address some of the complex factors affecting those systems, with critical insights from more than a dozen tribes and Native organizations.

In addition to focusing on Native food systems as a mechanism for physical health and well-being, many of the projects highlighted in the report demonstrate that Native food systems have the potential to support entrepreneurship and economic development. In fact, several of the tribes and Native organizations found creative ways to reclaim Native food systems while simultaneously creating jobs and generating revenue.

The 13 tribes and Native organizations developed many innovative projects, ranging from community farms and gardens to commercial kitchens and farmers markets, as well as various other health, wellness and mentorship programs. Together, these projects yielded more than three tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as organic pork and poultry, that went toward improving the health and well-being of Native children and families.

Accessing healthy food is a challenge for many Native children, families and communities. Without access to healthy food, a nutritious diet and good health are out of reach. “These 13 projects emphasize the innovation, ingenuity and resiliency of tribes and Native organizations to develop sustainable solutions to problems such as food insecurity and poverty,” said Michael E. Roberts, president of First Nations.

Roberts emphasized that tribes and Native organizations have the potential to develop home-grown solutions to many problems. “The purpose of this report is to encourage other tribes and Native organizations to design and implement their own projects to reclaim Native food systems and improve the health and economic well-being of their communities,” he added.

First Nations believes that sharing information and models is an effective yet underutilized tool in Indian Country. The report is a summary of 13 grant projects funded through First Nations’ Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI). Specifically, in 2012, the Walmart Foundation generously donated $300,000 to support the NAFSI grant program and strengthen Native food systems.  Two more reports, based on the experience of grantees funded by AARP Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, are expected to be released later this year.

The “Reclaiming Native Food Systems” report can be found at this link.

About First Nations Development Institute

For more than 30 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities.  First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit