Opinion

Michael Roberts: Tribes should take control of food economies





"Roughly 400 years after this first Thanksgiving, many Native peoples are dependent upon public assistance to eat, including the USDA’s commodity food program. Statistics also tell us that Native people in 22 states receive commodity food, and that approximately one in four Native households is “food insecure,” and do not have enough to eat. Moreover, another one in 10 households is experiencing hunger. We can easily connect the dots between the current state of Native food systems, and Indian peoples’ lack of control, and horrifying Native health statistics.

The way Indian people and Indian nations unconsciously and consciously purchase and eat food should put food systems back as the centerpiece of strategies for food-system restoration, improved economies, and health care, because the loss of traditional diet and adoption of diets high in fat and refined sugars have made Indians more susceptible to the unholy trilogy of diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

Health studies show that six of 10 Native Americans are likely to develop type 2 diabetes—mostly the result of poor dietary health—and have higher instances of obesity and heart disease. It is troubling that diabetes was essentially unknown among Indians in 1912, and still clinically nonexistent in 1930. Today, Indians suffer diabetes more than twice the national average (some places, the rate is much higher), and it is consuming more and more American Indian health-care resources."

Get the Story:
Michael Roberts: Thanksgiving Takeaways (Indian Country Today 11/21)