Opinion: Native people celebrate their foods

"Indeed, we live in strange times. For the first time in the history of humankind, most of our citizens could not raise, catch, hunt, gather, nor prepare a nutritious diet if their lives depended on it. Which they do. As if that alone were not a perilous enough prospect, observation of health trends suggests many couldn't care less.

Against the hollow prospect of acquiring one's sustenance through a drive-up window, there stand those, steadily increasing in organization and activism, who value food as a defining element of their cultures and traditions. And, as my sister and I found out firsthand at the Native Foods Celebration and Retreat held in May at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, these folks are not giving it up without a fight.

In North America as elsewhere, the centuries-old struggle by indigenous people for cultural survival is being waged in croplands, forests, rivers, kitchens, markets, and governments. Throughout the length and breadth of North America, Indian economies have for eons thrived on intimate knowledge of, and respect for, the natural order of their surroundings. Now, producers and activists from tribes as diverse in their lifeways as the ecosystems in which they reside are coming together to develop the strength and strategies they will need to reverse the destruction that industrial food production has brought to the landscapes, markets, and cultures of this continent."

Get the Story:
Dave Wheelock: Natives Organize for a Better Food Future (OpEd News 6/12)