Food sovereignty highlighted at festival

Nov 6th, 2012 | By | Category: 24-2: The Future of the Tribal College Movement, Tribal College News
By Pat Aune

FESTIVAL FUN. At the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Theresa Parker of Northwest Indian College, taught visitors how to braid cedar. Photo by Pat Aune

Sticky hot weather under a tent for two weeks is a challenge for those who prefer the dry prairie of the Northern Plains or the cool climate of the Pacific Northwest.

But that was the assignment for tribal college educators from United Tribes Technical College (UTTC, Bismarck, ND) and Northwest Indian College (NWIC, Bellingham, WA) who were involved in the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival, June 27-July 1 and July 4-8, on the National Mall in Washington, DC.

The event commemorated the 150th anniversary of the land-grant university system established by the Morrill Act.

The tribal colleges staffed an exhibit and presented educational and interpretive programming that emphasized food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is the ever-expanding description of our right to manage our food environment. Hunting and gathering of traditional foods; medicinal uses of native plants; gardening; local food production; food security; and traditional knowledge of foods, plants, and animals, are all included within discussions of food sovereignty.

Visitors were keenly interested in the tribal college displays and information. They were able to touch a buffalo hide, swat flies with a buffalo tail, and make a cedar bracelet under the instruction of basket weaver Theresa Parker, an enrolled Makah from Neah Bay, WA.

Representing UTTC were members of the tribal college’s Land Grant Program and Nutrition and Food Service Program.

Randy Two Crow, a UTTC criminal justice student and horticulture assistant (Oglala Tribe, Kyle, SD), shared his experience in tanning hides, organic gardening, and traditional food gathering. His presentations proved to be crowdpleasers, especially when youth and adults gathered around the buffalo box.

Amber Allery, a UTTC online student, and Cynthia Allery, a nutrition and chemical health educator, introduced audiences to the nutritional value of traditional diets and how food choices affect diabetes and other illnesses.

Annette Broyles, a nutrition and foodservice instructor, demonstrated buffalo uses and shared classroom methods and experiences.

Wanda Agnew, a registered dietician, spoke on the topic “Food is More than Something to Eat” while Pat Aune, Land Grant director, spoke about “Forty Years of Food Safety Education.”

Aune also coordinated the exhibit; served as onsite contact person; spoke about the land grant system, emphasizing the food and agriculture education provided by the tribal colleges; and shared information about timpsila (prairie turnip), sweet grass, and other traditional plants.

For more information, contact the UTTC Land Grant office (701) 255- 3285, ext. 1399 or

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