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May 17, 2010

Hello, everyone! I hope you are all well. I've been long absent, the direct result of a 15-credit hour semester, a job, and beginning volunteer work helping refugees learn English. I did manage to snatch a couple of days to drive up to Oklahoma (in the snow, if you can believe it!) to visit the Mvskokee Food Sovereignty Initiative's annual Food Sovereignty Symposium. It was truly inspiring, to see people gathering together to share their knowledge with a genuine desire to protect and better our world. Below is an article about one of the presenters at this year's symposium. I hope you enjoy it! Be sure to check out the links for MFSI and DWH.

The Mvskokee Food Sovereignty Initiative has instituted an annual Food Sovereignty Symposium. At this year’s event, Sally Auger and Diane Wilson presented Dream of Wild Health, a visionary program in Hugo, MN. On a ten-acre farm, youths and families are nurtured in body, mind, and spirit. Through three youth programs, kids and teens learn about responsibility, respect, how to choose a healthy diet, and how to connect with and foster nature. Then, this group reaches out to the community, providing locally grown organic produce at the farmer’s markets. It is a beautiful notion that has come to fruition through dedication and cooperation.

This is a prime example of people in a community rising to meet the community’s needs. DWH is a program of Peta Wakan Tipi, which was founded by Sally Auger and John Eichhorn, who identified a genuine need for transitional housing for Native American people in recovery. These people requested “a way to connect with the earth and the foods of [their] ancestors, rebuilding an essential relationship for Native people.” So, Sally and John consulted with community elders and DWH was born in 1998.

There are various elements to DWH, every one of them inspirational. Their seed-saving program is at the heart of this organization. About two years after DWH’s inception, they received a letter from Cora Baker. Cora, a long-time gardener, was a Potawatomi elder and Keeper of the Seeds. She wrote, “I had prayed and prayed that someone would take this gardening up again. I am very pleased to learn about your project. I feel that the Great Creator has answered my humble prayers. …I wish that someday the children will come to realize the importance of the garden.” Cora included a great variety of corn, beans, and squash, the so-called Three Sisters trio. These are planted together and form an almost perfect symbiotic relationship – the beans use the corn for support and fix nitrogen in the soil for the corn, which is a “heavy feeder,” and the low-growing squash shades the soil to help prevent weeds, conserve moisture, and mediate the soil temperature. Cora also included several varieties of sunflowers, which attract beneficial insects to the garden, as well as indigenous tobacco and plant medicines. More and more seeds arrived in the mail – word was getting out and people wanted to help. There was even a family who donated Cherokee corn seeds that were on the original Trail of Tears. Today, DWH holds more than 300 varieties of saved seeds, what they call “a priceless legacy from [their] ancestors.” And, indeed, it is priceless. We are losing biodiversity at an alarming rate, a crucial part of a healthy, functioning ecosystem. These people, working to preserve their heritage, may prove to be more important than we can realize now.


photo credit to Sam Fee and Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Monday May 17, 2010, 7:40 pm
Tags: garden wild dream traditional seed native community health of youth saving inspirational [add/edit tags]

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