Monday, January 4, 2016

APPLY NOW: The Summit 2016 Application Process is OPEN!

Applications are open! We are excited to announce our third annual Summer Leadership Summit for Native Youth in Food & Agriculture at the University of Arkansas School of Law.  The Summit will begin in July, and it’s time to start the application process.

Students who wish to apply must:
  •      be American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian;
  •      be between the ages of 15 and 18;
  •      be passionate about food & agricultural production, and
  •      have the courage to lead their Tribes and communities into the future

Please see the links below for the appropriate application form. 

If you're a college-aged student, please consider applying as a Student Leader. If you're a returning student, please fill out an application to be a Summit Fellow. More details about the Fellows program can be found in that application, below.

Spaces are limited, so PLEASE APPLY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

Dates:                   July 17-26, 2016 (this includes travel dates)

Location:              University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Hosts:                   Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative, University of Arkansas School of Law
       Intertribal Agriculture Council

Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, National Institute of        Food and Agriculture, United States Department of Agriculture

                        Farm Credit

                        Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA

            Southern Region Extension Risk Management Education Program


Cost to attend:    All food, lodging, instructional materials and field trip costs will be provided. 
Depending on the number of students, some travel scholarships will also be provided.  However, we need applications as soon as possible to plan for travel needs.

How to Apply:     More detailed information about the selection process can be found in the application forms.

First time students:        Complete the Student Application                Due April 11, 2016
Returning students:       Complete the Summit Fellow Application     Due March 11, 2016
College-aged students: Complete the Student Leader Application    Due March 11, 2016

Click the links above for .pdf copies of the applications. Need an email or print copy? No problem! Contact Emerald Hames on the IFAI staff at, or call her at 479.575.5128.

The Summit 2016 staff can’t wait to read your applications! Apply as soon as possible.  We hope to see you this summer!!!

--IFAI Summit 2016 Staff

Friday, November 13, 2015

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month

Every day across the country, American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian farmers, ranchers, food systems advocates, and Tribal government officials strive to improve the health and vitality of their people, feed their communities, and bring quality food products to people from coast to coast—and beyond! With 56 million+ acres of land in food production in Indian Country, the Indigenous Food & Agriculture Initiative highlights today what many Native producers already know—Native people are a dynamic force in American agriculture. That is true today just as it was true in the days pre-contact, when rich Native foodways as diverse and plentiful as the people who cultivated them spread across this wide continent.

Though the Initiative continually celebrates the hard work and accomplishments of those who keep Native food and agriculture going strong, we are proud to participate in Native American Heritage Month every November so we can make special recognition of their efforts, their sacrifices, and their deep commitment to the health of their food systems, people, and communities. 

To Native producers, who labor tirelessly each day to cultivate the plants and care for the animals that become the food that nourishes us;

To Native food systems advocates, who revitalize health, communities, and culture with a return to traditional foods and foodways;

To Tribal government officials, who recognize the extraordinary importance of supporting healthy food and resilient food systems through laws and policies;

And to our youth, who represent the future of all our communities:

The Initiative staff extends our deepest gratitude, this month and in all months, for the work that you do. We are proud to support you as you support the rest of us.

Monday, October 26, 2015

National philanthropic roundtable on Native American nutrition & food access

For Immediate Release

October 26, 2015

Media contact
Sara Thatcher

Suzette Harris

National philanthropic roundtable on Native American 

nutrition deemed a “historic, breakthrough moment”

Unprecedented gathering of funders plans next steps
to develop national strategies to solve Indian food crisis

Minneapolis, Minn. – The American Heart Association (AHA) and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) convened representatives from 41 national philanthropic organizations October 14-15th in Minneapolis. Participants focused on the grave problem of Native American nutritional health and agreed on key steps and planning to develop solutions.

“This discussion around Native American agriculture, healthy food access, nutrition, and dietary issues was unprecedented and desperately needed,” said SMSC Chairman Charlie Vig. “At the roundtable, major players in philanthropy explored actionable strategies to support capacity building efforts, to invest in research and advocacy, and to empower Native American communities to ensure culturally appropriate solutions to this crisis. The concrete next steps that resulted from this convening will help move Indian Country forward.”

The roundtable resulted in two major outcomes:
  1. Through additional outreach to participating organizations, AHA and SMSC will identify strategies to help support the development of plans for investing in Indian Country and collaborating on projects.
  2. Officials began planning a second convening in the first quarter of 2016. The next roundtable will explore advocacy opportunities and discuss ways to build technical assistance, training, and other supports needed to succeed.

Organizations which were unable to attend are still welcome to join the effort to improve Native nutrition and learn from the discussions held at the roundtable

“Last week’s roundtable was an historic, breakthrough, moment for dozens of organizations seeking common ground to address nutrition and health across tribal nations” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association. “These families in Indian Country need our support, resources and expertise, and we’ve taken an important step in getting them on the path to improved health.”

The SMSC was represented by its three elected Business Council representatives, Chairman Charlie Vig, Vice-Chairman Keith Anderson, and Secretary/Treasurer Lori Watso. The AHA was represented by Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, chief medical officer for prevention, and Jill Birnbaum, executive director of Voices for Healthy Kids. Wilson Pipestem, a member of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and a prominent American Indian lawyer, moderated the roundtable.

Speakers included:

Participating organizations included those that have robust Native American philanthropic portfolios, as well as those that are new to making targeted investments in Indian Country. Major national foundations included the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, Clinton Foundation, Bush Foundation, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, and the Northwest Area Foundation. Attendees also included high-ranking federal health officials from the United States Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Indian Health Service.

The impetus for the first-of-its-kind gathering came from the SMSC’s Seeds of Native Health campaign to improve Native American nutrition and from the recent release of Feeding Ourselves, a comprehensive report commissioned by the AHA and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that examines the barriers to food access and their link to health disparities in Indian Country. Echo Hawk Consulting, the firm that produced the Feeding Ourselves report, developed and guided the Fertile Ground event as part of the SMSC and AHA’s ongoing work to improve the health of tribal nations.

A video about the Feeding Ourselves report is available here. Photos from the Fertile Ground Reception are available here. Photos from The Fertile Ground Funders Roundtable Meeting are available here. Additional photos are available by request.

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized, sovereign Indian tribe located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. With a focus on being a good neighbor, good steward of the earth, and good employer, the SMSC is committed to charitable donations, community partnerships, a healthy environment, and a strong economy. Having donated more than $325 million since opening its Gaming Enterprise in the 1990s, as well as providing more than $500 million in economic development loans to other tribes, the SMSC is the largest philanthropic benefactor for Indian Country nationally and one of the largest charitable givers in Minnesota. The Seeds of Native Health campaign to improve the nutrition of Native Americans was launched in March 2015 with a $5 million contribution from the SMSC.

About the American Heart Associatio
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-800-AHA-USA1, visit or call any of our offices around the country.

Shared from: EchoHawk Consulting and Seeds of Native Health.