3394.0 Rebuilding indigenous food systems

Monday, November 8, 2010: 4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
American Indians are taking control of their food systems, despite some seemingly incredibly long odds. Low life expectancy/high morbidity plague Native Americans residing on U.S. reservations. Poor birth outcomes, staggering incidence of chronic diseases, stress and economic deprivation contribute to these findings, which are documented at http://www.communityhealth.hhs.gov/homepage.aspx?j=1. Other racial/ ethnic groups suffer similarly, but one additional major contributory factor perhaps unique to Native Americans has been deliberate destruction of their cultural and natural resource relationship to food. Whereas they once were sustained through the bounty of the local flora and fauna, supplemented by sustainable farming, many are now held hostage (and especially vulnerable) to a dysfunctional food system which minimally perpetuates health, environmental, economic, and social inequities. In a segment of the PBS documentary Unnatural Causes, it was speculated that “Healthy traditional foods like tepary beans, cholla buds, and wild game were replaced among the Tohono O’odham by surplus commodities white flour, lard, processed cheese and canned foods – a diabetic’s nightmare. A sense of “futurelessness” took hold, and so did diabetes.” Those variously wearing the hat of advocate, health practitioner, trainer, researcher, funder, food producer, environmentalist, and scriptwriter/journalist will first address major health, sustainability, and economic opportunity topics. The speakers include: a writer, documentary filmmaker, and former bison rancher from South Dakota; a producer who raises sheep and is a leader in western sustainable/organic agriculture efforts; a physician/advocate; and an official of the First Nation Development Institute, which teaches tribes to do assessments of food sovereignty. Collectively, through their experiences/insights, we hope to posit selected solutions being explored, implemented and evaluated and generally increase awareness of multiple linkages between food and health on reservations. Engaging the speakers and the audience in a lively and topical Q&A, comment, and discussion period centering around the food system/food economy of tribal nations and generalities concerning food for all Americans is a major objective. An edited portion of the upcoming PBS documentary “Good Meat” concerning one young Sioux’s quest for better health through returning to his ancestral people’s ways of killing and eating grass fed bison will be shown and viewing opportunities discussed.
Session Objectives: 1. Describe an historic, current, or future perspective of a threat to the health of Native Americans revolving around food/economic issues 2. Explain a health (or other) benefit of meat from animals raised on grasses vs. grain crops in the diet of Native Americans. 3. Identify a training, demographic, etc. resource available to members of tribes for their education regarding local/regional health, agricultural, economic, etc., data and opportunities.

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Organized by: Environment
Endorsed by: American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Caucus, APHA-Committee on Women's Rights, Socialist Caucus

CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)

See more of: Environment