The Warm Springs Community Action Team’s food systems project, Shuwiyasha, aims to support community, private, and Tribal sustainable farming and food production projects with a focus on breaking down internalized colonization within those systems. This project, which we are conducting in partnership with the High Desert Food and Farm Alliance (HDFFA), will reduce health inequities by increasing community knowledge around food systems and food sovereignty, increasing access to fresh foods, and laying a foundation for future local food production.
The Warm Springs Reservation is considered a food desert and community members face numerous systemic barriers on the local, state, and federal level. The Tribal government spends a majority of its money, employee capacity, and legal power on land management and protection. Tribal peoples’ connections to the land, water, and animals are intertwined with who we are. Traditions have been passed down but access to first foods, medicines and traditional lands have been intentionally severed; although many families have passed on teachings, too many do not have access.
With this project, we aim to plant seeds of thought within community members when we are talking about foods and food systems, to make connections to and amplify the traditional aspects of our daily food habits, to show how healthier choices impact our cognitive, cultural, physical, and economic food systems, and to recognize and break down internal colonization within our community. Our project will help community members become more trauma informed and begin to address lateral oppression, much of which started in the form of Federal government policy.
As part of this project, we are conducting an assessment to learn how the residents of Warm Springs feel about food access and food sovereignty. The goal is to find actionable steps to increase the availability of fresh, locally or tribally grown foods in the community, and to reconnect to the land.
Based on community feedback from 150+ survey respondents, we have proposed the following definition of food sovereignty: “Our food sovereignty is centered on a connection to traditional foods, the gathering, hunting, fishing, preservation and preparation of these foods, and the Tribal life views associated with them. It is the right to define our own agricultural, labor, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate. It includes the true right to access food and to produce food, which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and to food-producing resources and the ability to sustain themselves.”
Want to know more?
Contact Carina Miller to learn more about the work being done and ask how you can become involved.