Indigenous Food Sovereignty
What is Food Sovereignty?
Food Sovereignty is the right of people, including farmers and consumers, to control their own food system. Food Sovereignty allows individuals to have a say in how food is produced, what kind of food is produced, and how it is consumed. Indigenous food sovereignty is one of the most essential and important means of combating ecocide. Several indigenous communities in Northern Minnesota, USA are doing their part to take control of their food systems.
Projects, People and Connections
There are endless connections and numerous projects currently engaging these areas. This is by no means a complete vision of the projects and people involved in the issues of food and seed sovereignty, but it represents a start.
There are many resources available on this topic. One of the most informative is the Indigenous Environmental Network’s production titled
I recently had the opportunity to talk with Chef Sean Sherman, who is the executive chef at Common Roots Cafe in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was featured in “Regaining Food Sovereignty.” Chef Sherman has recently been focusing on “Pre-Reservation” indigenous knowledge of wild foods and hopes to open a indigenous foods restaurant and learning center in 2014 (www.blacksheepchefs.com).
Who/what motivated you to use your skills as a chef as a political/educational tool?
I had spent some time living in a small village in Mexico and re-evaluated my career and decided I would start working on a Native American Cookbook, since I could find very little information on the subject and realized how lost that skill was for my own people… I spent the next few years studying foraging and history of the Sioux and Ojibwe people and started putting myself out there with the focus of bringing back a knowledge and know how of traditional and indigenous foods. With a chef background, I was able to interpret methods of cooking and understand how the original peoples were manipulating natural foods through ancient preservation techniques. I was also able to understand the health aspects of these ancient diets and how beneficial they could be to the Native Peoples today who are currently struggling with the European diet their bodies have never really become accustomed to. Becoming a small voice and becoming pro-active in pushing this agenda fell naturally along this path.
How does it feel to be the bearer of so much traditional and cultural food knowledge? Is it exciting? Intimidating?
I still have much to learn and only hope to inspire other people to help bring this project as a whole to life. I am grateful for finding my path and hope only to continue to grow and educate myself and others along the way.
What can a knowledge of traditional food sources/ cooking do for us? What do you hope we (society) can gain from it?
I feel that a culture without food is such a lost culture. I also feel we have a rare, albeit difficult, opportunity to bring back and re-write what is known of Native American Foods and Cuisine and could only hope our future generations will hold it as dear as other world cultures do with the food from their homelands.
Red Lake, White Earth and Leech Lake Reservations are just a few examples of communities that have been greatly impacted by the mass damage and destruction of ecosystems and culture that has come to be associated with Ecocide. A law of Ecocide would ensure that these areas are no longer marginalized, commoditized or robbed of their indigenous identities.