IAC Regional Gathering Recipient of National Science Foundation $100,000 Award


The Intertribal Agriculture Council – Great Lakes Region and the IAC American Indian Foods (AIF) Program are pleased to announce they are the recipients of a National Science Foundation (NSF) award for nearly $100,000 to support a large regional gathering in October of 2021 – The Build and Broaden Indigenous Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Symposium.  The event will be in-person if possible.


Food sovereignty is explained by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) Natural Resources Department (NRD) as, “A movement of reclaiming Indigenous food traditions, emphasizing the ability of Indigenous people to feed themselves and feed themselves well.  In practice, food sovereignty feeds the growth of culture and community.  It is a state of being in which Indigenous communities are able to have a safe, culturally acceptable, and nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that promotes community self-reliance and social justice. Tribal territories are rich with wildlife and Indigenous gardens where food and medicines abound within the waters, wetlands, forests and landscapes.”


“It is estimated there are currently less than five regularly occurring conferences nationwide in the U.S. that include a focus on Indigenous food sovereignty in general, and none besides this one that focuses particularly on intellectual concerns in the area of Indigenous food sovereignty,” said Dan Cornelius – Technical Assistance Specialist (TA) for the IAC.  


“This proposal grew from several months of envisioning a collaboration with multiple academic partners, state and Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program (FRTEP) extension agents as well as Tribes in Northern Michigan,” Cornelius explained. “The NSF offers a new category of funding that could help expand research connections and potentially increase technology-based investment opportunities in Tribal communities. This event fits under this umbrella and we are extremely excited about it.”


Dr. Martin Reinhardt, an Anishinaabe Ojibway citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians from Michigan and Professor and Chair of Native American Studies at Northern Michigan University, serves as the President of the Michigan Indian Education Council and has been pivotal in helping this NSF award come to fruition.  Reinhardt has a concerted interest in revitalizing relationships between humans and Indigenous plants and animals of the Great Lakes Region.


“We are at a crossroads regarding the future of our planet. If we choose the path of mino-bimaadiz (the good life), we will all re-learn to love the place we live,” Reinhardt said. “This symposium will help us along the path to the good life by providing a variety of presentations, demonstrations, and other activities that will engage participants in the study of Indigenous foods and our relationship with the world around us.” 


“The symposium centers on sharing knowledge and practices to restore and strengthen our relationships with food, agriculture, and each other,” Cornelius went on to explain. “The Midwest-Great Lakes region is home to many sovereign nations who are actively engaging in food sovereignty in their communities. We want to draw attention to that and expand these positive efforts while attracting the academic and extension communities working in areas intersecting with Tribal food and agriculture.”


The Build and Broaden Food Sovereignty Symposium is true to its name and will also build and broaden current efforts to define a national Native research agenda.


“The Native research agenda is not being fulfilled by institutions of higher education and there is a great need for basic and applied research led by Natives on Native land,” said Kari Jo Lawrence – the Director of Programs for the IAC. 


“As a national organization with more than 700 partners in the private, federal, state, and nonprofit sectors, IAC is ideally suited for facilitating research experiences that address national Tribal priorities,” Lawrence continued. “The Build and Broaden effort brings us one step closer to shifting the current paradigm that has researchers conducting research on Native communities as their whims determine vs. Natives determining what kind of research methodologies, priorities, and outcomes are most beneficial.” 


“We certainly cannot orchestrate an event like this alone,” noted Cornelius. “We sincerely thank our partners in this effort – Northern Michigan University, Great Lakes Research Center – Michigan Technological University, Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College, Ferris State University, University of Michigan, Michigan State University Extension, Bay Mills Community College, the Intertribal Council of Michigan, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Natural Resources Department and Dynamite Hill Farms.”


Media inquiries call or text Kerry Hoffschneider: 406-208-3433

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