Back to the Future: Hopi Farming

Back to the Future: Restoring Traditional Hopi Farm Plots and Helping Elders

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) wants to eliminate food insecurity among senior citizens in Native American communities, and we are joined in that effort by AARP Foundation.  With foundation funding, we were able to award four grants to Native American communities this past summer in Arizona, New Mexico and Oklahoma that will help address the issue. It’s part of our Native American Food Security project which, in turn, is part of our larger Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI).

One of those grant recipients is Sipaulovi Development Corporation in Arizona. Sipaulovi is a self-governing Hopi village founded in the early 1700s on Second Mesa. Of the 900 village residents, 28% are elders over 55, while 40% are youth up to age 18.

With its $25,000 grant, Sipaulovi is working to ensure elder food security by reclaiming locally controlled food systems based on traditional knowledge, contemporary practices, and coming together for the common good. Activities focus on restoring seed and water sources, reviving community farming and gardening, and growing, processing and sharing food in the traditional manner.

The gardens will be a reliable source of healthy food for elders, who have restored and revived traditional farm plots and are working to engage community members in farming and reviving traditional farming practices while providing foods for families and individuals.

Besides the grant funding, First Nations has also provided technical assistance to Sipaulovi.  In July 2012, we provided training on program evaluation, food policy and food assessment.  We did this in association with other NAFSI grantees so Sipaulovi and the others could benefit by networking with each other.

Other $25,000 food-security grants went to Santo Domingo Pueblo and Pueblo of Nambé, both in New Mexico, and to the Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma.

The Native American Food Security project assists Native American tribes or organizations working to eliminate food insecurity among senior populations. National statistics document that Native Americans continue to experience high rates of poverty, contributing to significant food insecurity in many Native American communities. According to the most recent American Community Survey, about 26% of American Indians live at or below the poverty line. The same survey indicates that roughly 12% of all Native Americans living in poverty are age 55 and older. Other studies conducted by the National Resource Center on Native American Aging note that Native American seniors suffer from higher rates of obesity, diabetes and other negative health indicators when compared to other senior groups in the United States.

First Nations’ work in food systems is at the intersection between food systems/food security and economic development. We support tribes and Native communities as they strengthen food systems in their communities, improve health and nutrition and build food security. First Nations increases the control over Native agriculture and food systems by providing financial and technical support, including training materials, to projects that address the agriculture and food sectors in Native communities.

Read more: http://indiangiver.firstnations.org/nl121112-03/#

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