LONGMONT, Colo., July 18, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today announced it has awarded a new round of grants totaling $450,000 to 11 American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian organizations. The grants, made possible by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan, were awarded under First Nations' Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI).
All of the funded NAFSI projects aim to enhance Native control of their local food systems – especially in addressing issues such as food insecurity, food deserts, and health and nutrition – while simultaneously bolstering much-needed economic development in those communities.
The grantees, award amounts and projects are:
- Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, Portland, Oregon, $44,403 – The four treaty tribes (Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warms Springs and Yakama) have long used the river as an integral part of tribal culture, diet and economy. However, tribal fishermen have been at the bottom of the fish-marketing chain and have not shared in its full economic value. This project will improve that by developing an entrepreneurial program to teach proper food handling and harvest safety practices along with business and marketing strategies.
- Dine College, Tsaile, Arizona, $44,959 – The project will address the lack of access to healthy, affordable and traditional foods in the region directly around the college and revitalize traditional food systems by establishing a regional food policy and a farmers market, and conducting public education about Navajo food-system issues and agriculture.
- Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes, Poplar, Montana, $13,080 – Purchase and install two walk-in freezers, a walk-in fridge and antibacterial shelving at the Wolf Point Food Bank to replace many noncommercial units. The food bank serves nearly 300 emergency food baskets each month to residents of the Fort Peck Reservation and five counties. Freezer space will be rented to families for a nominal fee, which will be held in an account for them as a match for purchasing a home freezer.
- Hunkpati Investments, Inc., Fort Thompson, South Dakota, $45,000 – The initiative will provide fresh vegetables, gardening and entrepreneurial education, and youth employment on the Crow Creek Reservation. A planned community garden will have 10 personal plots for community members, leaving the rest for communal gardening. The project will facilitate community-wide farmers markets, provide nutrition and gardening education via the Boys and Girls Club, and will provide work for teens by hiring them to care for the garden and run the farmers markets.
- Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope, Barrow, Alaska, $44,660 – Provide locally grown vegetables, herbs and edible flowers by using innovative technology to grow organic produce hydroponically with Tower Gardens® and LED lights, thus eliminating the need for soil and, during the winter, sunlight. The produce will allow Arctic Slope natives to improve their diets and long-term health. Currently available plant-based foods are prohibitively expensive. The project also will allow the school system to take advantage of a farm-to-school program.
- Northwest Indian College, Bellingham, Washington, $43,703 – The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community is committed to strengthening its food systems to improve the health of members through increased access to fresh produce. The recently established Swinomish Food Sovereignty Committee is developing a long-term food system plan. This project will complete a community garden space; provide education on gardening, food harvesting and preparation; and offer support and materials for home container gardens.
- Oglala Sioux Parks and Recreation Authority, Kyle, South Dakota, $45,000 – This project makes a traditional food source, buffalo, readily available to Oglala Lakota tribal members who otherwise would not have access to the meat. There is no outlet to purchase it on the Pine Ridge Reservation unless a tribal member purchases a bison hunt, which is limited and expensive for low-income families. The opportunity to buy processed buffalo meat allows tribal members to purchase just what they need instead of paying the cost of a hunt and the processing of hundreds of pounds of meat at a time. It will be available at tribal farmers market sites and transported in a mobile freezer truck to rural areas.
- The Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, Oneida, Wisconsin, $34,861 – The project will improve traditional food security through enhanced food-preservation processes of organic heirloom white corn (a culturally important tribal food), which will prevent crop loss due to mold, pests and insects. This project will address improvements in white corn harvesting, storage, shelling and the processing of products.
- Painted Desert Demonstration Project (doing business as The STAR School), Flagstaff, Arizona, $44,334 – The k-8 STAR School adjacent to the Navajo Nation will partner with the Navajo community of Sandsprings Farm on recently partitioned Hopi lands to pilot the first farm-to-school project in northern Arizona as a model for Navajo and Hopi schools and farms. They will collaborate to research and document state and federal requirements, certify the farm to supply public school meals, strengthen school gardens, prepare and disseminate a farm-to-school procedure manual, and mentor additional Navajo and Hopi initiatives.
- Taos County Economic Development Corporation, Taos, New Mexico, $45,000 – Taos County Economic Development Corporation will be the lead coordinator of a new Native American Food Security and Food Systems Alliance. The purpose of the Alliance will be to build a national Native movement and voice on Native food security and food system control. This will include developing a collaborative group of Native leaders who are concerned with Native food security, hunger and nutrition issues.
- Waimea Hawaiian Homesteaders' Association, Inc., Kamuela, Hawaii, $45,000 – The "Farming for the Working Class" program enables Native Hawaiian homesteaders to actively begin farming fallow land. It consists of hands-on training, classroom learning and business training. Wow Farm, a successful farming enterprise, developed a highly productive greenhouse. That system will be taught to participants, allowing them to grow healthy crops that provide additional income along with fresh produce.
About First Nations Development Institute
For more than 30 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage, or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves rural and reservation-based Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit www.firstnations.org.
Randy Blauvelt, First Nations Senior Communications Officer
SOURCE First Nations Development Institute