Indigenous Corn Restoration Project

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2008: $150,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Grant Recipient: White Earth Land Recovery Project
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Winona LaDuke
White Earth Land Recovery Project

Annual Reports


  • Additional Plants: native plants


  • Crop Production: continuous cropping, crop rotation, fallow
  • Education and Training: demonstration, networking, participatory research, youth education
  • Energy: energy use
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development
  • Pest Management: genetic resistance
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, local and regional food systems, partnerships, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    The White Earth Land Recovery Project and the Project Coordinator, Winona LaDuke, will facilitate collaboration between Native American farmers in the Great Plains and Great Lakes region and North Dakota State University corn breeders. Context: The varieties of corn in question were once cultivated and highly valued by Native people of the Great Plains but are now in danger of extinction. This impending loss constitutes a loss of culture and of food security. These corn varieties are often higher in nutritional value than more currently produced varieties. The threat of extinction becomes increasingly urgent as we face the prospect of climate change, which will be devastating for agriculture in the region. Many of these varieties are frost and drought resistant, and as such will be of great value in the times ahead. As well, the cultural significance of these corn varieties is very important to Native people, as well as the traditional knowledge associated with corn. We hope to strengthen both.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Approach: Our project will create a partnership between scientists and Native American farmers, provide training for Native American youth interested in agricultural studies, and provide a foundation for larger-scale corn production in order to benefit local Native American communities. Outputs and Outcomes: We will collect oral history about corn and grow at least 8 varieties of endangered corn species. Their restoration will enable our community manage diabetes and other diet-related illnesses. They will also help us to develop our local food economy and build food security in our region.

    Evaluation Plan: We will grow test plots of corn varieties and determine how successfully these varieties can be grown in our region. We will evaluate the project through monitoring the number of corn plants successfully grown; the number if interested students, youth trainees, and farmers; interest from Native American communities.

    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.