Native Food systems

STOCKSCH 290NF (3 credits)

September 1 – December 8, 2021

How to Enroll in an Online Class

Instructor: Danielle Hill, She/Her

Email: DHill@heron-hill.org

Website: www.heron-hill.org 

Danielle Hill, founder of Heron-Hill LLC holds an MPA in Sustainable Development from the World Learning Graduate Institute (SIT).  She works in various capacities for Tribal governments, Tribal Organizations and Native American non-profits consulting on food sovereignty related issues. 


Course overview:  

The course will be an introduction to Native American Food Systems; focusing on how individual tribal members and tribal governments express food sovereignty both on and off their reservations within 5 key sectors.  Students will learn how plants and animals are viewed in both the spiritual and economic sense and how tribes and tribal citizens are creating sustainable food-related businesses for economic development.  This course will examine organizations and individuals across the nation that are dedicated to uplifting Native American food systems. 

Learning Objectives:

1.  Familiarize students with the Native American Food Sovereignty movement;

2.  Students will gain a deeper understanding of the challenges Tribal Nations face when attempting to offer their citizens culturally relevant, healthy and affordable food;

2.  Students will evaluate local, regional and national food-related organizations and businesses addressing Native American food sovereignty;

4.  Students will practice critical thinking and challenge personal assumptions about the inclusion of non-native allies in the Food Sovereignty Movement;

5.  Students will leave the course motivated and with practical skills that will help them identify potential sectors of opportunity and cross collaboration where the Native American Food Sovereignty movement can be supported and continue to evolve.

Course Structure: Every week students will watch a virtual lesson, that will also include links to videos, reading assignments and supplemental materials. For each lesson there will be a 1-page reflection paper or activity due submitted through Blackboard.  Student engagement is an important aspect of the course and made available to help create an inspiring, thought-provoking environment.  A mandatory discussion thread will be used to encourage feedback from assignments and to ensure learning objectives are met.  

Week 1: Introduction to Native American Food Systems

  • 5 Major Sectors of Food Systems – Video Lecture, DHill
  • Required Reading Assignment- Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the US, Intro & Chapter 1-2 (pg. 1-56)
  • Required Reading Assignment- FNDI Indigenous Food Systems: Transformative Strategies
  • Optional Toasted Sister Podcast- The Thanksgiving Episode
  • Optional Reading Assignment: Braiding Sweetgrass, Planting Sweetgrass (pg. 1-48)
  • Reflection Paper 1: What is the definition of Food Sovereignty?
  • Discussion Board Question 1: Which sector of Native American Food Systems are you most unfamiliar with and how can you deepen your understanding?

Week 2:  The History of Food Sovereignty

  • Displacement from Aboriginal Homelands- Video Lecture, DHill
  • Required Reading Assignment- Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the US, Chapter 2 (pg. 56-94)
  • Required YouTube Video: Regaining Food Sovereignty: Neyaab Nimamoomin Mewinzha Gaa-inajigeyang
  • Optional Reading Assignment- An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States– Intro & Chapter 1-2 (pg.1-45)
  • Reflection Paper 2: Why is it important mentally, culturally and physically important to choose your food?  What are the ways in which you choose your food and why?
  • Discussion Board Question 2: “Survivalist Meals”, what are they and how do they shape culture? Upload 2 pictures.

Week 3:  Aboriginal Hunting and Fishing Rights

  • The Importance of Local Rules for Local Food for Local Tribes- Video Lecture, DHill
  • Required Reading Assignment: The Law of Native American Hunting, Fishing and Gathering Outside of Reservation Boundaries in the United States and Canada, By Guy Charlton
  • Optional Reading Assignment- Eating the Landscape, Chapter 4-6 (pg 48-105)
  • Reflection Paper 3: What are the systemic and/or institutional barriers that prevent Tribal members from fully exerting their sovereign rights to hunting and fishing?
  • Discussion Board Question 3: What are the foods of your ancestors?

Week 4: A Native American Approach to Sustainability

  • Why Tribes should create food-related businesses- Video Lecture, DHill
  • Native Food Business Case Study – Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, First Light Oysters
  • Required Reading Assignment- Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the US, Chapter 4 (pg. 122-154)
  • Required Reading Assignment: Cape Cod Green Infrastructure Guide: Shellfish/Aquaculture Article
  • Required Reading Assignment: Mashpee Wampanoag Aboriginal Hunting and Fishing Rights
  • Required Reading Assignment: Mashpee Tribe Member Charged with selling contaminated Fish, Cape Cod Times
  • Required Reading Assignment: Mashpee Tribe challenging town authority on shell fishing regs, Cape Cod Times
  • Required Reading Assignment: Cultural and health implications of fish advisories in a Native American community, By Elizabeth Hoover
  • Guest Speaker: Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Shellfish Farm Manager
  • Reflection Paper 4: How are tribes’ diets being altered because of state or local jurisdiction?
  • Discussion Board Question 4: What are some foods in your area that are locally and sustainably harvested?

Week 5:  Land, Identity, Food & Health

  • We are what we eat- Health Disparities in Indian Country- Video Lecture, DHill
  • Required Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)- Read Attached Articles
  • Required YouTube Video- Food For Thought: Native American Food Sovereignty
  • Required Movie: More than Frybread
  • Required Activity 1- Commodity Foods Research and Recipe Re-creation. Ex. Frybread Recipe
  • Required Video: The Frybread Myth: Fighting for Food Sovereignty in Native America
  • Required Reading Assignment: Indigenous Health Initiatives, Frybread and the Marketing of Nontraditional “traditional” American Indian Foods, By Devon Mihesuah
  • Reflection Paper 5: What are some examples and reasons for resistance seen from people who are reluctant to adopt healthier food choices on the Navajo reservation?
  • Discussion Board Question 5: How is your identity defined by Food? Share some examples of recipes that define your identity.
  • *Extra Credit Prepare a recipe book of your culture including 2-3 recipes and their significance to identity and culture.

Week 6:   National Food Sovereignty Organizations

  • The importance of a National movement- Video Lecture, DHill
  • Required Reading Assignment: FNDI Food As Economic Development in Native Communities
  • Required Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance overview, website
  • Required Indigenous Seed Keepers Network overview, website
  • Optional YouTube Video:  Is Culinary Colonialism A Thing? Al Jazeera English
  • Optional Reading Assignment: The Body of the Conquistador: Food Race and the Colonial Experience, Chapter 3-4
  • Reflection Paper 6: What are some unifying factors within Indian Country where you see Tribe strengthening their food economies?
  • Discussion Board Question 6: Discuss your thoughts on Culinary Colonialism, do you agree or disagree?

Week 7: Midterm Exam

Week 8:  The Commodification of Sentient Beings

  • The Commodification of Sentient beings- Video Lecture, DHill
  • Required Reading Assignment: White Earth Band of Ojibwe legally recognize the rights of wild rice, attached Articles/legal documents
  • Required YouTube Video: Traditional Ecological Knowledge
  • Optional Reading Assignment: Braiding Sweetgrass, Burning Sweetgrass (pg. 303-374)
  • Optional YouTube: The Teaching of Plants: Finding common ground between traditional and scientific knowledge, Robin Wall Kimmerer
  • Optional YouTube Video:  Rights of Nature Slideshow
  • Reflection Paper 8: Reflecting on the Wild Rice readings, discuss your understanding of the Rights of Nature and how it can be incorporated into the national food sovereignty dialogue.
  • Discussion Board Question 8: Choose an animal or plant and give it rights.  Share your reasoning and connect it to the food sovereignty movement. 

Week 9: Native American Food Related Businesses

  • Components of a Native Food Economy- Video Lecture, DHill
  • Required Reading Assignment: FNDI Reviving Economies, Restoring Food Systems: Models of Food Enterprises in Indian Country
  • Required Reading Assignment- Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the US, Chapter 6 (pg. 173-185)
  • Optional Intertribal Agriculture Council overview, website
  • Optional Toasted Sister Podcast- Reflection
  • Required Activity 2:  Create a hypothetical Food business that addresses a real health problem and has a partnership with a Native American Tribe or organization, create your product and share.
  • Discussion Board Question 9:  What is the history of your culture’s food? Where is it reflected in American culture/society today?

Week 10: Poverty in Indian Country

  • The Real Costs of Living Like Our Ancestors- Video Lecture, DHill
  • Required Video: Gather Film
  • Required Reading Assignment- Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the US, Chapter 7-8 (pg. 186-208)
  • Optional YouTube Video: TEDx Fargo All my relations- a traditional Lakota approach to health equity
  • Reflection Paper 10: Choose a scene from the Gather Film that was most impactful and expand up its broader truth and placement within the Native American Food Sovereignty Movement. 
  • Discussion Board Question 10: What are the most significant differences between American food culture and Indigenous food culture?

Week 11: Decolonizing Your Diet

  • The art of cooking and preserving traditional foodways- Video Lecture, DHill
  • Reading Assignment- Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the US, Chapter 9-10 (pg. 209-252)
  • Required YouTube Video: Tending the Wild, Decolonizing the Diet
  • Required YouTube Video: TEDx The (R)Evolution of Indigenous Foods, Sean Sherman
  • Optional  Reading Assignment: The Sioux Chef, By Sean Sherman
  • Required Activity 3: Choose a seasonal recipe from The Sioux Chef Cookbook or one of Sean Sherman’s YouTube videos and cook it, upload a photo to the discussion board and discuss your relationship with cooking.
  • Reflection Paper 11: Discuss your thoughts on culturally appropriating Indigenous foodways.
  • Discussion Board Question: What are ways other non-native food-related business decolonize their food practices/choices.
  • *Extra Credit- Prepare 1 pre-colonial meal a day for 5 days. Create a daily Log and share your successes, challenges and reflections.

Week 12: Food Sovereignty Challenges Today

  • Barriers to Economic Advancement- Video Lecture, DHill
  • Required Reading Assignment- Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the US, Chapter 11-13 (pg. 253-320)
  • Quiz
  • Discussion Board Question 12:  What are some perspectives within the food sovereignty movement that you disagree with or cannot relate to?

Week 13: Final Project- The Future of Food Sovereignty

  • Pitch an Innovative Idea/Project for Tribes, Individuals or Organizations to advance the Food Sovereignty Movement to the next level and solve current challenges.  Discuss how you would gather support, access to capital and offer a uniquely sustainable business model.
  • Required Reading Assignment- Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the US, Chapter 14-Conclusion (pg. 320-338)

Discussion Board: Final Thoughts

Grading:  Based on a 2100-Point system

  • 8 Reflection Papers (500 word minimum) = 800 points = 38%
  • 1 Quiz = 100 points
  • 1 Midterm Exam= 100 points
  • Food Systems Project = 100 points
    • Students will pitch an innovative Idea, program or project for Tribes, Individuals or Organizations adopt that will further advance the Food Sovereignty Movement to the next level and solve current challenges.  Discuss how you would gather support, gain access to capital and offer a uniquely sustainable business model that aligns with Native American value systems. (Week 13)
  • 3 Activities= 300 points
    • Activity 1- Students will further research the Native American Commodity Foods program and prepare some of the recipes Tribes have historically created from these select foods.  Students will evaluate if these food products were sustainable and how nutritional colonialism impacts culture.  (Week 5 – 100 points)
    • Activity 2- Create a hypothetical Food business that addresses a real health problem and has a partnership with a Native American Tribe or organization, create your product and share. (Week 9 – 100 Points)
    • Activity 3- Choose a seasonal recipe from The Sioux Chef Cookbook and cook it, upload a photo to the discussion board and discuss your relationship with cooking. (Week 11 – 100 points)
  • Class Participation/Discussion Boards = 700 points

*Extra Credit= up to 50 points

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