Over the past 500 years, Indigenous peoples from all over Turtle Island have suffered from the repercussions of colonization. Our ancestors were ripped from the land while our food sources were taken away and some disseminated. Our sacred medicines and food were then sold, placed in museums, or lost altogether. Colonizers recognized that if we no longer have our food sources, then we no longer can survive. Thus, leaving them to control the land and our food sources. It was a way to cut our inherent bond with the land and all the creatures who lived on it. We were removed from our original homelands and forced onto prisoner-of-war camps (a.k.a. reservations). Most times, the soil was not rich and fertile.
Today, our Indigenous peoples have the highest rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity due to unhealthy diets. We are given commodities ("commods") which are processed saturated fatty foods such as cheese, canned items, and powdered milk. We also suffer from mental health issues such as depression and high rates of suicide. Our reservations
are plagued by alcoholism, meth, and other drug addiction as well as high rates of nicotine use. According to the 2017 CDC National Vitals Statistics Report, heart disease, cancer, and unintentional deaths were the top leading causes of mortality for Native Americans with diabetes being number seven. We are one of the most underserved populations in the United States when it comes to social services, mental health services, and IHS.
We have recognized that our government continues to fail us on many levels. We are left with no other choice but to help ourselves. This often leads to our own decolonization process which is often painful and traumatizing to learn about the violence inflicted upon our ancestors. It is not easy, however, through self-discovery and much healing, we can address the systematic oppression and try to build a better
future for the next generations.
A vital part of Tribal sovereignty is to address food sources and reclaim first foods. If we can grow our own food, we can help dismantle capitalism and provide Indigenous nations with healthy food and medicines. For this reason, we are honored to work with Alton and Foxy Onefeather on their food sovereignty initiative.
"In the last 500 years, Indigenous diets have drastically diminished. By providing healthier food options we can reduce the high rate of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. As well as reintroducing our Indigenous spiritual connection with the land, plants, and elements that nourish our soul. The bond that is created with seed as it grows is not only physical but also a spiritual healing.
We were the head gardeners at the Wiconi Un Tipi camp for three seasons and donated all our produce to the local community as well as utilized our fresh and canned produce in our community dinners. We look forward to continuing to show people that healthy eating is healthy living." - Alton and Foxy Onefeather