Students from Oglala Sioux Tribe get close with First Lady Obama

Two young members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, Gabriel Brooks, far left, and Avianna Garcia, second from right, help First Lady Michelle Obama prepare a salad with a harvest of crops from the White House Kitchen Garden. June 3, 2015. Photo by Andrew Bahl for Indianz.Com

Let's Move initiative celebrates five years
By Andrew Bahl
Indianz.Com Staff Writer

Students from the Oglala Sioux Tribe joined First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House on Wednesday to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Let’s Move! initiative.

Avianna Garcia, 9, and Gabriel Brooks, 10, shared a lot of face time with the first lady as representatives of the Child Care and Development Program on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. They also acted as ambassadors of Let's Move! In Indian Country, a multi-agency effort aimed at reducing rates of obesity among American Indian and Alaska Native children.

The two young tribal members came to the nation's capitol to help Obama harvest the White House Kitchen Garden, an activity that normally takes place outside. Due to inclement weather, though, the event was moved inside.

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks to youth at the White House. June 3, 2015. Photo by Andrew Bahl for Indianz.Com

"We didn't want you to get soaked," Obama told about 20 youth from various Let's Move! programs across the nation.

White House staff took care of the actual harvesting earlier in the day but the kids still had a lot on their plates. "We're going to do the fun part today and we're going to chop, cook, eat, celebrate," the first lady said.

Obama kept Avianna and Gabriel at her side while they prepared a salad from the harvest. She also sat at their table as they enjoyed a healthy meal.

The White House: The First Lady Celebrates the White House Kitchen Garden Harvest with Let's Move! Students

The theme of this year’s harvest centered on pollinators. Bees, birds, butterflies and bats -- along with other creatures -- play an important role in agriculture production by helping spread life.

“One out of every three bites of food we take in this country is the result of a pollinator garden somewhere,” said Obama, who added a pollinator garden to the White House last year.

Obama first planted the kitchen garden in March 2009 to talk about health and well-being issues in the nation. The effort eventually evolved into launch of Let's Move! in February 2010.

Indian Country has long been an important component of the initiative. Since the program's launch on the Menominee Nation in Wisconsin in May 2011, dozens of tribes across the nation have been promoting exercise, healthy eating and other activities in an effort to combat obesity among their youth.

First Lady Michelle Obama with Native youth at the White House Kitchen Garden in June 2011. Photo by National Congress of American Indians / Flickr

Native youth also have played a big role at the kitchen garden itself. They helped Obama harvest crops there in June 2011, when they also planted corn, squash and beans -- otherwise known as the three sisters of Native agriculture.

In April of this year, two students from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina helped Obama plant five new vegetables in the kitchen garden. Those crops produced the harvest that ended up on salad plates yesterday.

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