HomeEducationSustainability EducationIndigenous Food Sovereignty and Manoomin

Indigenous Food Sovereignty and Manoomin

By Kane Farmer

I am a fourth-year student studying Plant Science with a concentration in Agroecology and a minor in Insect Science. I am interested in cultural agricultural practices, the cultural use of plants and insects, how colonization has shaped our diets, and historic plant distribution.

My family came to the United States as Hmong refugees and worked as farmers, not only to make a living but as a source of cultural preservation. Alongside this, growing up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, I was exposed to amble greenspace which allowed me to participate in events and programs centered around citizen science and environmental education at a young age.

This summer I worked under Dr. Mae Davenport on the Kawe Gidaa-naanaagadawendaamin Manoomin (First We Must Consider Manoomin). I helped conduct research exploring the social and biophysical dimensions of Indigenous Food Sovereignty, particularly focusing on Manoomin (Wild Rice) and its adaptive responses to climate change. This work centered on understanding how indigenous communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin incorporate traditional ecological knowledge into their relationship with food, land, and environmental stewardship. My work ranged from educating the public on Manoomin as a plant and cultural resource to helping conduct wild rice surveys with government organizations, NGOs, and Tribal Nations.

Through this internship, I was able to conduct a capstone project with another intern focusing on Indigenous and Immigrant Food Sovereignty in Minnesota to better understand how agricultural legislation affects these farming communities. We interviewed organizations such as Sharing Our Roots and representatives from the MDA’s Emerging Farmers program.

Monitoring Manoomin on the White Earth Reservation

We learned that immigrant farmers in the United States often have the same barriers and difficulties to farming in Minnesota as Indigenous people, this is important because it highlights the need for inclusive and culturally responsive agricultural policies that address the unique challenges faced by these communities. By understanding their specific needs, we can work towards creating a more equitable and sustainable food system that benefits all farmers.

This internship was a transformative journey for me, marking a pivotal moment in my academic and personal growth. For the first time in my educational path, I found an opportunity that aligned perfectly with my passions and interests, allowing me to delve deeply into areas I am truly passionate about. I was able to learn about the culture and histories of Tribal Nations throughout the Great Lakes directly from indigenous people. This direct engagement offered a better understanding of the significance of Manoomin and how climate change, along with historical and ongoing injustices, impacts their communities.

I was able to collaborate alongside other students with varying academic backgrounds.  Our shared commitment to food sovereignty, sustainability, and environmental stewardship alongside trips involving fieldwork, camping, outreach, and eating a lot of locally sourced food fostered a dynamic and inspiring work environment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *