Native Voices Convene at Food Tank Summit on Indigenous Food – Food Tank

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Food Tank and Arizona State University’s (ASU) The Wisdom of Indigenous Foodways” Summit on January 22, 2020, is convening native voices and food system leaders to help bring Indigenous knowledge to the forefront of conversations on food system transformation. The evening event is held in collaboration with the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at ASU and the Sustainable Community Food Systems Program at the University of Hawai’i, West O’ahu.

Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director of the ASU Swette Center, hopes the Summit will identify ways in which the Center can partner with Indigenous peoples. “I’m excited to help amplify voices that have not been fully heard and honored,” Merrigan tells Food Tank. “I’m not the expert, I’m the learner in this setting.”

Topics of discussion will range from biodiversity and wild foods to landrace property rights, as well as shine light on innovation within Indigenous communities. Speakers include Janie Simms Hipp, President & CEO of Native American Agriculture Fund and a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation; Melissa Nelson, Professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University and a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians; and Kamuela Enos, Director of Social Enterprise at MA’O Organic Farm.

Learn more about the speakers below (alphabetical order):

Maenette K. P. Ah Nee-Benham, Chancellor, University of Hawaiʻi at West Oʻahu

Maenette K. P. Ah Nee-Benham began serving as the University of Hawaiʻi at West Oʻahu chancellor on January 1, 2017. A kānaka maoli (Native Hawaiian) scholar and teacher, Benham previously served as the inaugural dean of the Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge at UH Mānoa (2008–2016).

A Kamehameha Schools graduate, Benham began her teaching career in 1978 teaching grades K–12 in California, Texas, and Hawaiʻi (Kaiser High School and Kamehameha Schools). She earned her doctoral degree from UH Mānoa in 1992 and joined the College of Education faculty at Michigan State University in 1993. Among her notable accomplishments, Benham was the lead author of the White House Paper on the Tribal Colleges and Universities: A Trust Responsibility (2004), submitted to the U.S. President’s Advisory Board on Tribal Colleges and Universities. She is author, co-author, and editor of five books and numerous published articles, book chapters, and technical reports.

Benham’s work on alternative frames of leadership and issues of education is nationally and internationally respected. She has been an invited speaker and presenter in Europe and South East Asia and the World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education. She covers a range of topics from program planning and assessment/evaluation, school change, leadership development, building school-community partnerships, and professional ethics.

Twila Cassadore, San Carlos Apache, Arizona

Cassadore has been working with San Carlos Apache, White Mountain Apache, and Yavapi peoples over the past 25 years, conducting interviews with elders to bring information back into the community to address health and social problems. Cassadore described the importance of foods like grass seeds and acorn seeds to the diets of Apaches before people were moved onto reservations and became reliant on rations, and later, commodities.

Paula Daniels, Co-Founder, Center for Good Food Purchasing, and Founder, Los Angeles Food Policy Council

Paula Daniels is Co-Founder and Chair of the Center for Good Food Purchasing, a nonprofit founded in July of 2015 as a national spin-off from the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, which Paula founded in 2011. The Center for Good Food Purchasing uses the power of procurement to create a transparent and equitable food system that prioritizes the health and well-being of people, animals, and the environment, through the nationally networked adoption and implementation of the Good Food Purchasing Program by major institutions. Paula is an attorney with extensive experience in law as well as in public policy and politics, due to her role as a senior public official in a number of high-level appointed positions, which gave her decision-making authority on complex and controversial environmental issues.

Kamuela Enos, Director of Social Enterprise, MA’O Organic Farms

Kamuela Joseph Nui Enos was born and raised in Waianae, on the island of O`ahu. He received his AA from Leeward Community College, BA in Hawaiian Studies from UH Manoa, MA in Urban and Regional Planner. His MA thesis was on “Utilizing Traditional Hawaiian Land Use Practices to Create Sustainability Paradigms for the 21st Century.” He sits on the boards of numerous community-based nonprofits and was recently a commissioner on President Obama’s White House Initiative on Asians and Pacific Islanders. Enos is currently the Director of Social Enterprise at MA`O Organic Farms and a lecturer at UH Manoa’s Dept. of Urban and Regional Planning.

Cindy Farlee, Student, ASU Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership

Cindy Farlee, a citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, serves as the Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) Associate Program Officer and Youth/Beginning Farmer and Rancher Liaison. She is a first-generation college graduate who, in May 2018, obtained her bachelor’s degree in Indigenous and American Indian studies with an emphasis on sovereignty from Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas.

She is one of the founding members of the Indigenous Justice Initiative, an academic demonstration working to create a framework for an Indigenous justice system that is more reflective of cultural values and acknowledges the reciprocal relationships we have with the natural world. Farlee also served on the inaugural board of directors for the Native Youth Food Sovereignty Alliance, the youth advisory board of the Intertribal Agriculture Council.

Mariah Gladstone, Founder, Indigikitchen

Mariah Gladstone (Blackfeet, Cherokee) grew up in Northwest Montana. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Environmental Engineering and returned home where she developed Indigikitchen. Mariah has been recognized as a “Champion for Change” through the Center for Native American Youth, a “Culture of Health Leader” through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Grist 50 “Fixer.” She is currently on the board of the Native Youth Food Sovereignty Alliance.

Janie Simms Hipp, President & CEO, Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF)

Before serving as CEO of NAAF, Janie Simms Hipp, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, was the founding director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas. Prior to launching the initiative, she served as national program leader for Farm Financial Management, Trade Adjustment Assistance, Risk Management Education, and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute for Food and Agriculture.

She was selected as the senior advisor for tribal relations to Secretary Tom Vilsack and director of the Office of Tribal Relations. Prior to her work in Washington, D.C., at the national level, she has enjoyed a lengthy domestic and international career spanning more than 35 years in the agriculture sector as an agriculture and food lawyer and policy expert. Her work focuses on the complex intersection of Indian law and agriculture and food law.

Hipp holds a JD from Oklahoma City University and an LL.M. in agriculture and food law from the University of Arkansas. She is the author of numerous publications, most recently joining with Wilson Pipestem, JD, and Crystal EchoHawk to author the Feeding Ourselves report and thereafter the Regaining our Future report with Colby Duren, JD. She serves as an advisor to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s Seeds of Native Health campaign and numerous other campaigns focusing on food, agriculture, health, and economic development in Indian Country.

Michael Johnson, Research Associate, Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF)

Dr. Michael Kotutwa Johnson, a member of the Hopi Tribe in Northern Arizona, serves as NAAF’s Research Associate. Dr. Johnson is a traditional Hopi farmer and practitioner and has given extensive lectures on the topic of Hopi dryland farming—a practice of his people for more than two millennia—throughout his academic and professional career. He is also very familiar with conventional agriculture, having received his Bachelor of Science degree in agriculture from Cornell University.

Some of Dr. Johnson’s previous work experience involved agriculture and land-related issues at First Nations Development Institute and the Indian Land Tenure Foundation. He holds a Master of Public Policy degree from Pepperdine University. Before receiving his PhD in Natural Resources at the University of Arizona, Dr. Johnson was a Natural Resource District Conservationist assigned to the Hopi Reservation for the Natural Resource Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Terrol Dew Johnson, Basket Weaver and Community Activist

Terrol Dew Johnson is a nationally recognized, award-winning Tohono O’odham basket weaver, community activist, and museum consultant. His baskets have won major awards at the Santa Fe Indian Market, NM; O’odham Tash, Sells, AZ; Heard Museum Fair, Phoenix, and Southwest Indian Art Fair, Tucson, AZ. His work is in permanent collections of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C., and the Heard Museum. He founded TOCA (Tohono O’odham Community Action) in 1996 with business partner Tristan Reader in Sells, Arizona. As an artist and curator, he has collaborated with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C., and New York City; the Heard Museum; Arizona Historical Society; and Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Chelsey Luger, Journalist

Chelsey Luger is a freelance journalist and wellness advocate based in Phoenix, Arizona, originally from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota. She double majored in History and Native American Studies at Dartmouth College, concentrating on comparative histories of global Indigenous cultures and post-colonial theory.  She later earned an MS in Digital Media at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. In her work as a journalist, she highlights activist movements and environmentalism as it relates to wellness and Native culture. Luger is passionate about motivating youth to stay active and healthy in order to build mental-physical-spiritual strength.

Luger’s work has been published in The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, High Country News, YES! Magazine, Indian Country Today Media Network, Al Jazeera America, Fusion, NowThis, and more. She is a trainer for the Native Wellness Institute and the co-founder of Well For Culture, an Indigenous wellness initiative.

Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director, Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at ASU

Kathleen Merrigan is the inaugural Executive Director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at ASU and the Kelly and Brian Swette Professor of Sustainable Food Systems, with appointments in the School of Sustainability, College of Health Solutions, and School of Public Affairs. She came to ASU after four years as Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University, where she led the GW Sustainability Collaborative, GW Food Institute, and was Professor of Public Policy, with appointments in the schools of public policy and public health.

From 2009 to 2013, Dr. Merrigan served as U.S. Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a US$150 billion, 110,000 employee institution. As Deputy Secretary, Dr. Merrigan created and led the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative to support local food systems; was a key architect of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, and made history as the first woman to chair the Ministerial Conference of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Before joining the USDA, Dr. Merrigan was a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University where she directed the MS/PhD Agriculture, Food and Environment Program.

Currently, Dr. Merrigan serves as Co-Chair for AGree, Board Director for the World Agroforestry Centre, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, FoodCorps, and Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) as well as Steering Committee member for the U.N. Environment Programme-led initiative TEEB AgriFood. Dr. Merrigan is a partner in Astanor Ventures and an advisor to S2G Ventures, two firms investing in ag-tech innovations.

Recognizing the history and scope of her work, Time Magazine named Dr. Merrigan among the “100 most influential people in the world” in 2010.

Albie Miles, Assistant Professor of Sustainable Community Food Systems, University of Hawai‘i at West O‘ahu

Albie Miles is Assistant Professor of Sustainable Community Food Systems at the University of Hawai‘i at West O‘ahu. Dr. Miles received his PhD in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management from the University of California at Berkeley in 2013. His research explores the relationship between farming system biodiversity and ecosystem services from agriculture and the structural obstacles to sustainable food and farming systems. He has worked at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz.

Karli Moore, Student, ASU Food Policy and Sustainability Leadership

Karli Moore, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, serves as the Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) Associate Program Officer. She has experience with family farm operations, youth-led food sovereignty initiatives, corporate agribusiness, international agriculture projects, and land grant institutions.

Moore earned her bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and agricultural business management from North Carolina State University. She will soon finish a dual master’s program in agricultural economics and international rural development from the University of Arkansas, with studies at Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany.

Moore coordinated a monarch butterfly conservation program for BASF Agricultural Solutions and conducted a logistical analysis relating to the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations for the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative. She has experience in both tribal communities (working for her family’s direct-market beef business in North Carolina) and global contexts (conducting rural development research in Slovakia).

Andi Murphy, Journalist; Associate Producer, Native America Calling

Andi Murphy (Navajo) is from Crownpoint, New Mexico, a small town on the Navajo Nation reservation. She has been a writer since she learned how to use a pencil. She evolved into a journalist, from a creative writer, during her first year in college when she joined the American Indian Journalism Institute (AIJI) and the Native American Journalists Association. Through AIJI, she has held internships in Farmington, Montana, and North Dakota. She is a graduate of New Mexico State University and most recently worked as a features writer for the Las Cruces Sun-News.

Melissa Nelson, Professor of American Indian Studies, San Francisco State University

Melissa K. Nelson, PhD, is an ecologist, writer, editor, media-maker, and native scholar-activist. She is Anishinaabe/Métis/Norwegian and an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Her work is dedicated to Indigenous rights and revitalization, Native science and biocultural diversity, ecological ethics and sustainability, and the renewal and celebration of community health and cultural arts.

Dr. Nelson is a professor of American Indian Studies at San Francisco State University and president of the Cultural Conservancy, an Indigenous rights organization, which she has directed since 1993. Her first edited anthology, Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings For A Sustainable Future (2008), features three of her essays and focuses on the persistence of Traditional Ecological Knowledge by contemporary native communities.

Dr. Nelson is a Switzer Fellow and Environmental Leadership Award recipient and has received awards for teaching, experiential education, documentary filmmaking, and environmental stewardship. She has presented her work throughout North America and in Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the Philippines, Australia, Peru, and New Zealand.

Danielle Nierenberg, President, Food Tank

Food Tank’s President and Co-Founder Danielle Nierenberg is an expert on sustainable agriculture and food issues.

Danielle has spent the last decade traveling to more than 75 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America, meeting with farmers and farmers’ groups, scientists and researchers, policymakers and government leaders, students and academics, along with journalists, documenting what’s working to help alleviate hunger and poverty, while protecting the environment.

Cheryse “Kaui” Sana, Farm Manager, MAʻO Organic Farms

Kaui is a lifelong resident of the Waiʻanae coast of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. She is a graduate of Waiʻanae High School, the MAʻO Organic Farms Youth Leadership Training Program, and the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa with a B.A. degree in Hawaiian Studies. Kaui manages more than 30 acres of certified organic fruit and vegetable crop production. She plans to pursue an M.A. degree from the University of Hawaiʻi so that she can be of greater service to the broader community.

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