Anishinaabe Traditional Food Restoration for Local and Market Consumption

Project Overview

FNC16-1042
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2016: $15,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/30/2018
Grant Recipient: Ojibway Growers
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Winona LaDuke
Winona LaDuke Heritage Farm

Annual Reports

Commodities

  • Agronomic: corn
  • Vegetables: beans, cucurbits
  • Additional Plants: herbs

Practices

  • Crop Production: intercropping
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, local and regional food systems, new business opportunities, community services

    Proposal summary:

    Problem

    In the 1800s, 120 distinct Anishinaabe agriculture varieties grew in our territory. Many of these varieties have disappeared and many are difficult to find, some are located in the GRIN USDA seed bank , and some with individual Native people, organizations and families. “In Canada, three-quarters of all the crop varieties that existed before the 20th century are extinct. And, of the remaining quarter, only 10 percent are available commercially from Canadian seed companies (the remainder are held by gardeners and families). Those varieties were the basis for not only our own foods but also the basis for a premium market to the non-native people. . As Mary Winyerd would write in her book, North Country, “Dakota and Ojibwe women were deep into commercial enterprise.... They ...peddled sugar, wild rice, pumpkins, corn, squash and other agricultural products to the traders and the military. With virtually no food produced for the market by whites in Minnesota country in the l840s, and fresh produce in high demand, Native women entrepreneurs, could set premium price on their small surplus harvests.....” Like many Indigenous peoples, our wealth was the source of our poverty; our lands taken, the prairies , cut, plowed into farm land There are many traditional foods the American Indian no long have. In particular the Ojibwa have lost access to a variety of foods do to the establishment of Reservation lifestyle. The displacement of Tribal people from our their traditional growing areas and the restriction placed on Tribal people by the Government has limited any rebuilding of this former agricultural wealth. Today, one third of our people have diabetes, largely a result of an introduced diet and forced lifestyle. And, we import eighty percent of our foods from off reservation. This is a significant drain to our tribal people.

    Solution

    1) To re-establish perennial and annual Indigenous varieties for consumption by our community and by gourmet Indigenous chefs on two farms- one in Mille Lacs reservation territory and one on White Earth reservation .

    2) To utilize traditional agriculture and reduced petroleum agriculture processes to care for and produce these foods- including fish fertilizer, inter-cropping, horse and limited tractor equipment.

    3) Over the next three years to create the basis for organic certified gourmet Indigenous crop varieties, and to determine the possibility of creating a tribal organic/fair trade certification program.

    4) To have a teaching field, for the benefit of tribal school children on the White Earth reservation.

    5) To create a product for gourmet Indigenous chefs in the region.

    What We Will Grow:

    Jerusalem Artichokes (perennial) - A’skibwan’

    Heritage potato varieties - opin or bawajipin

    Heritage bean varieties - mushkodiisimin

    Heritage Squash varieties - na’bdwogwis’simadin Heritage flint corn varieties for hominy and flour corn, and pop corn. - mandaamin

    Bergamot, Milkweed and pollinator habitat.– bibi’gwunukuk’ wabino’wuck; ini’niwunj’

    Hog peanuts – bugwudj’miskodi’simin

    Juneberries and Chokecherries. – guzigwa’kominaga’wunj; a’sisuwe’minaga’wunj Flowers - waabigwan

    These test plots would be developed on an 80 acre parcel of land on the White Earth reservation and a 40 acre parcel near the Mille Lacs reservation.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Re-establish perennial and annual Indigenous varieties for consumption by our community and by gourmet Indigenous chefs on two farms- one in Mille Lacs reservation territory and one on White Earth reservation
    2. Utilize traditional agriculture and reduced petroleum agriculture processes to care for and produce these foods- including fish fertilizer, inter-cropping, horse and limited tractor equipment.
    3. Create the basis for organic certified gourmet Indigenous crop varieties, and to determine the possibility of creating a tribal organic/fair trade certification program.
    4. Create a teaching field for the benefit of tribal school children on the White Earth reservation.
    5. Create a product for gourmet Indigenous chefs in the region.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.