Native Americans

Food sovereignty pilot should be expanded in next farm bill

In the final piece of The Farm Bill Fight, a series by FERN and Mother Jones on the changing nature of America's most important agricultural law, Bridget Huber makes the case for expanding a pilot program that gives Native Americans more control over their food supply.

Less land, higher risk for disadvantaged farmers

Socially disadvantaged farmers, a group that includes racial and ethnic minorities, women, and producers with limited resources, are more likely to operate smaller farms and face greater financial stress than the white farmers who dominate U.S. agriculture, said a USDA report.

FERN talks to the Sioux Chef about the reality of a political restaurant

In FERN's latest story, FERN Editor-in-Chief Theodore Ross talks with Sean Sherman, the Native American chef, author, and activist about his restaurant Owamni and the politics of food. The interview was produced in partnership with Switchyard magazine as part of a special food issue. 

New lender dedicated to Native American producers

The Native American Agriculture Fund, a trust created by the settlement of the Keepseagle class action lawsuit against the USDA, said on Wednesday it would invest $12 million to set up a lender dedicated to working with Native American producers.

As herring decline, tribes challenge Alaska’s respected fisheries program

Each spring, in Alaska's Sitka Sound, herring return to spawn, touching off a long-running clash between commercial fishers and the Tlingit tribe, whose subsistence harvest of herring roe has been going on for millennia, as Brett Simpson explains in FERN's latest story, published with The Nation.

Food insecurity rose sharply among Native Americans during pandemic, report says

Nearly half of Native American and Alaska Native households experienced food insecurity during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report from the Native American Agriculture Fund, The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative and the Food Research & Action Center. The report urged “putting Tribal governments in the driver’s seat of feeding people” to create a more resilient food system.

Native American food sovereignty means ‘rebuilding our nations and our food systems, one taste bud at a time’

When Covid-19 hit, intensifying hunger rates and limiting food access across the country, tribal communities drew on ancestral knowledge to mount a resilient response, said A-dae Romero-Briones, who directs Native agriculture and food systems programs at the First Nations Development Institute. “These long-buried behaviors would come up, and it was like honoring our ancestors,” she said. “To me, it was a renaissance.”

USDA approves state hemp production plans

For all its cachet as a potential money-making crop for American farmers, industrial hemp ranked midway between safflower and flaxseed in plantings, with an estimated 230,000 acres in 2019, and industry leaders disagree whether 2020 will be a year of expansion or retrenchment. But the USDA is approving state plans to regulate hemp production and offering crop insurance for hemp growers, steps that could help establish the crop.

The ‘Commod Bod’ and USDA’s box-o-food program

There are federal predecessors to the Trump administration's "Harvest Box" proposal, to provide half of food-stamp benefits in the form of a box of processed and packaged foods, says the NPR blog The Salt. "Among those horrified at the thought: American Indians who recognized this as the same type of federal food assistance that tribes have received for decades, with devastating implications for health."

Tribes form coalition to get a voice in 2018 farm bill

Some 30 tribes are members of the newly formed Native Farm Bill Coalition, whose goal is influencing the 2018 farm bill, particularly on rural economic development issues, says Minnesota Public Radio.

Trump to slash two national monuments in Utah by 60 percent

During a visit to Utah next week, President Trump will announce that he is lopping a combined 2 million acres from the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, reducing them to 37 percent of their current size, said the Washington Post.

What happens to a fishing culture when there are too few fish?

For generations, members of the Yurok tribe have fished for salmon in the Klamath River in the northwestern corner of California. "Salmon is essential to Yurok ceremonies, for food and for income," says Lisa Morehouse in a story for The California Report that was produced in partnership with FERN. "But this fall, the number of chinook salmon swimming up the Klamath was the lowest on record, threatening the tribe's entire culture and way of life."

Zinke won’t dismantle any national monuments, though some might get smaller

After a controversial four-month review of 27 U.S. national monuments, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke won’t recommend that the White House do away with any of them. He did say, however, that “a handful of sites” could see their boundaries changed or shrunken, says the Associated Press.

Study: Rural America helps poor kids earn more money later in life

Poor children growing up in three out of four rural counties — especially in the Great Plains — are more likely to earn more than the national average by the age of 26 than their counterparts in cities, says a national study by Stanford economist Raj Chetty. Just 29 percent of kids in densely populated urban centers earn more than the national average as adults.

Multiple studies say rate of sea level rise is growing

At least the third study in a year has found that the rate of sea level rise is increasing. A recent report in Nature Climate Change said that the rate of sea level rise had grown from 2.2 millimeters per year in 1993 to a 3.3-millimeter annual rise in 2014.

Zinke defends massive cuts to Interior Department

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources that he supports the White House's proposal to cut his department's budget by $1.6 billion, saying "this is what a balanced budget looks like."

Why you don’t see American pine nuts in stores

Faced with climate change and cheap competition from countries like China, the American pine nut trade shows no signs of recovery. Long a staple food for Native American tribes in the Southwest, including the Navajo and Apache, 8 million pounds of pine nuts were wild-harvested in 1942, from New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona.

Zinke tours Bears Ears, says Native Americans are ‘smart, capable’

During the first day of his tour of Bears Ears National Monument, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke disagreed with Utah officials who have claimed that Native Americans who support the monument are manipulated by special interest groups, says The Salt Lake Tribune.

National Bison Range won’t go to tribes after all, says Zinke

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has reversed plans to transfer control of the National Bison Range to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. When tribes called for the change in 2016, they claimed the federal government had taken the land from American Indians without their consent.

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