Native Food Systems

STOCKSCH 290N (3 credits)

Instructor: Marissa Spang Contact:

Marissa Spang. Marissa Spang (Esevona’e), M.Ed., descends from Chief Morning Star through her ke’eehe (Cheyenne grandmother) and of Pretty Shield through her kaa’laa (Crow grandmother). She obtained her B.A. degree in Native American Studies from Dartmouth College and her M.Ed. in Learning Sciences and Human Development from the University of Washington. Her work actively attends to the storied and lived collective continuance of Indigenous peoples, by Indigenous peoples – particularly in the context of everyday human repair, repatriation and practice of respectful relations with the natural world by employing Indigenous sciences and ontologies, while finding ways to adapt/integrate Western science. Such an approach works and emerges directly with/in land – in so doing, a host of ecological relations are restored, as well as Indigenous peoples’ knowledges, their sense of self and active, self-determining presence on their territories as good relatives/scientists/citizens.

Course Overview

The depth and breadth of Indigenous/Native Food Systems of Turtle Island are immense, thus this course will serve as an introduction to such food systems. The course will provide a study of Native food systems from socio-historical, storied/theoried and practical/lived approaches of Indigenous Foods. Consequently, students will come to have a broad understanding of the history of Indigenous Food Systems and how they’ve evolved and adapted since time immemorial to the present; a larger, storied understanding of Native food relatives; and some practical methods or skills for how to live in to or practice an ethical, kinship-based relationship with Native foods and lands.

Key ontological and axiological assumptions for this course:

  • We will actively center Indigenous pedagogies, epistemologies, ontologies, axiologies, methodologies, narratives, and relations to land (which a side effect becomes dislodging settler ones and narratives to Indigenous land and knowledge).
  • We have a responsibility to knowing – this fundamental shift will move us in to approaching learning and knowing as a human responsibility to story and practice Indigenous knowledge and hold respectful, reciprocal relations with it (which also shifts us away from a western colonial framing of a right to knowing).

Learning Objectives – students will:

  1. Understand an Indigenized, socio-history of Indigenous Food Systems.
  2. Gain an understanding of how Indigenous Food Systems have evolved ecologically over time via an active attendance of Indigenous peoples/nations.
  3. Understand the larger storied Indigenous onto-axiologies (i.e. ethics) that inform IFSs and Indigenous Sciences and why then it becomes a responsibility to not only know IFSs and protocols, but to also live them directly in land (especially in the face of anthropogenic climate change).
  4. Understand effects of rapid, ongoing settler-colonialism on Indigenous lands, health, knowledges and languages, and how Indigenous peoples are adapting, reclaiming and resurging their lifeways, e.g. Indigenous Food Sovereignty Movement.
  5. Come away from the course motivated and with practical skills for how to practice Indigenous Sciences and related protocols and ethics where you are, literally, on Indigenous land in your life and work.

Weekly Content:

Week 1: Introduction to Indigenous Food Systems

Week 2: Since Time Immemorial: Indigenous Histories of Land & Food 

Week 3: Indigenous Scientific Theories/Stories & Food Systems

Week 4: Indigenous Agronomy & Ethnobotany

Week 5: Indigenous Foodways: Hunting, Gathering and Fishing

Week 6: Indigenous Foodways: Harvest and Preservation

Week 7: Settler Violence and Disruptions to Indigeneity & Food Systems

Week 8: Consequences of Settler-colonialism on Indigenous Health & Food Systems

Week 9: Impacts of Climate Change on Indigenous Landscapes & Food Systems

Week 10: Indigenous Resurgence & Revitalization: Food Sovereignty

Week 11: Indigenous Innovation: Reclaiming Food System Economies

Week 12: Living Indigenous Sciences and Food Systems, Pt. 1

Week 13: Living Indigenous Sciences and Food Systems, Pt. 2

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