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Food Sovereignty

The College of Menominee Nation (CMN) is taking steps towards strengthening food sovereignty on the Menominee Indian Reservation located in Wisconsin. On the right, you'll find several links regarding food sovereignty programs CMN is either currently working on or has worked on in the past. Read below to learn more about what food sovereignty is and its role in American Indian communities.

Menominee Food Sovereignty programming is made possible through a series of collaborative partnerships, including:

Grant funding from First Nations along with United States Department of Agriculture makes it possible for these collaborations to take place.

Food Sovereignty

The term ‘food sovereignty’ is relatively new, coined in 1966 by Via Campesina, an international grassroots organization. Food sovereignty asserts that the people who produce, distribute, and consume food should control the mechanisms and policies of food production, as well as the distribution of their products. This gives control back to the farmer, rather than corporations and markets that have come to dominate the global food system.

Although there is no one concrete definition of food sovereignty and it can vary across peoples, places, and time, below is the statement collectively formed by Menominee community members in collaboration with the American Indian Cancer Foundation (AICF) at the 2018 Food Sovereignty Summit:

The Menominee Nation describes food sovereignty as living our traditional Menominee ways, identity, values and relationships to provide a tribally sustained community food system for future generations.

There is a strong food sovereignty movement within American Indian communities. According to the Native Agriculture and Food System Initiative (NAFSI),

It’s about reconnecting to the land and rediscovering growing practices that are in tune with the environment. It’s about revitalizing rich cultural traditions tied to seasonal growing and gathering practices. It’s about nutrition and health, reversing a tide of unhealthy eating resulting from the loss of land, nutritious foods, and traditional lifeways.

The Traditional Plants and Foods Program of Northwest Indian College points out six community factors that exhibit tribal food sovereignty:

  1. Have access to healthy food
  2. Have foods that are culturally appropriate
  3. Grow, gather, hunt and fish in ways that are sustainable over the long term
  4. Distribute foods in ways so people get what they need to stay healthy
  5. Adequately compensate the people who provide the food
  6. Utilize tribal treaty rights and uphold policies that ensure continued access to traditional foods.