MYSTIC LAKE, MINNESOTA -- In Indian Country, all things are related, including journalism and Native nutrition. During the 2019 National Native Media Conference, journalists and nutritionists shared the same space for the first time to discuss potential journalism topics ranging from food sovereignty to why the 2020 census and news coverage of it matters for agriculture, food, health, and voting.
“Native audiences don’t realize that the Native food sovereignty movement is happening beyond the kitchen,” states Loris Taylor, President and CEO of Native Public Media, explaining that indigenous chefs like Sean Sherman better known as the Sioux Chef, are showcasing indigenous foods with the dual purpose of educating others about the importance of traditional diets. For many tribal members, using tribal homelands to seed and plant local food sources, exercising tribal sovereignty to reenergize indigenous foods to instill better health is not only important but critical to combatting diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses that have begun to grow deep roots among indigenous peoples.
“Native Americans historically came from strong, healthy, and robust nations where food was a central part of the sacred circle. It wasn’t just the labor of growing crops that was important to indigenous farmers. Farming among the Hopi, for example, is considered a sacred family responsibility that is tethered to prayer, belief, and meditation,” explains Taylor.
Both journalists and nutritionists agree that the narratives about food, its growth, and the space they occupy in feeding the body, the collective human spirit, and soul must occupy a higher level of attention in the storytelling food chain. Using technology for the modern age, journalists and nutritionists agree, a wealth of healthy stories should continue to be an important part of indigenous lifeways.
“There are so many beautiful stories about indigenous ties to the land, to the practice of growing food, the relationship of crops to spatial understanding, and how health can continue to be a prayerful journey for indigenous peoples. These powerful narratives need to be a staple part of our daily diet because they help us to navigate our way towards a healthy lifestyle in a powerful and lasting way,” concludes Taylor.