This lecture took place in the Hurt Hub on Feb 3, 2020. This lecture contained a panel of three members of the Cherokee tribe and a lawyer and professor from the University of Arkansas affiliated with the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative. They spoke about how the Native American’s food sovereignty has been threatened by actions from the federal government. The three Cherokee woman remarked at how difficult it has become to harvest native foods such as ramps. They claimed that the federal government has enacted strict regulations on how and when they are able to grow and harvest these crops. These regulations have made it nearly impossible for the remaining Cherokee people to grow ramps, leading them to almost disappear from North Carolina. The lawyer explained that he along with the rest of the Food and Agriculture Initiative has worked with the Cherokee people in North Carolina and other tribes across the country to help them settle disputes with the government. The federal governments have placed laws that have also affected how different tribes have been able to harvest traditional food such as salmon, bison, and wild rice. He went on to demonstrate that in nearly 60% of counties Native People are the most food insecure.
The Cherokee woman went on to describe recipes from the restaurant they own down near Asheville, NC. The bean bread they described sounded especially good. However, they remarked on how these recipes are becoming increasingly rare because they aren’t being passed on down to future generations.
This panel taught me a lot about what food sovereignty is and how it is an important issue on tribal lands. I think in the age of supermarkets we take for granted how easy our access to food is. Many tribes across this country are suffocated by governmental policies that make it difficult to grow traditional foods they have been growing or hunting for centuries.