Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station

Creating More Pathways For Indigenous Foods

PINE RIDGE RESERVATION – As food-sovereignty efforts continue among Native American tribes, a South Dakota organization is bringing together stakeholders for a key brainstorming session.

Around the U.S., many tribes are trying to reclaim access to their food systems. It’s part of broader movements to revitalize various Indigenous practices and cultures, eroded under the weight of colonization.

The Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, a nonprofit serving Lakota people in the Pine Ridge Reservation, is hosting a Lakota Food Summit in mid-September.

Chance Weston, food sovereignty director for the corporation, said highlighting traditional methods is important, but so is a “looking ahead” approach.

“We’re always trying to bridge, a lot of times, our ancestral knowledge, but also our modern regenerative ag,” Weston explained. “In contemporary times, we want to be able to open it up for all groups.”

The Thunder Valley Food Summit 2023 aims to bring together a diverse range of individuals, including tribal members, community leaders, food experts, policymakers, and other stakeholders. The primary goal is to foster meaningful dialogue, knowledge-sharing, and collaborative problem-solving surrounding healthy, locally sourced food systems and the revitalization of traditional Indigenous practices related to food cultivation, harvesting, and preparation.

Tribal leaders, community leaders, food experts and policymakers will share ideas in hopes of expanding food systems. The event will run from Sept. 14-16 at the Box Elder Events Center.

Weston noted long-term, he hopes the sharing and implementation of ideas will eventually minimize the need for a “call to action.”

“Because there shouldn’t have to be a food sovereignty initiative,” Weston contended. “This should be something that exists already within our communities.”

As for the summit, he added it will not be limited to speakers and roundtable discussions. Indigenous chefs will be on hand to provide food samples as attendees look for inspiration. The sessions will be open to community members looking to learn more information.

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