Blackfeet Researcher Advocates for Food Sovereignty

Traditional Foods in Native America

Blackfeet Researcher Leads Her Tribe Back to Traditional Foods YES! MagazineJun 6, 2017

Researcher Abaki Beck [GoogleScholar link] 23, holds a degree in American studies, and has published on the impacts of settler-colonialism on Blackfeet youth suicide. Her May 2017 report, “Ahwahsiin: Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Contemporary Food Sovereignty on the Blackfeet Reservation” (ahwahsiin translates to “the land where we get our food”), includes drawing upon oral history interviews with Blackfeet elders discussing the nation’s traditional foods, the adverse impact upon health of deprivation of those resources, and the health issues connected to a modern American diet.

Forced assimilation destroyed most nations’ diets, but now Native youth are learning to integrate local foods back into their daily lives… “Our people survived genocide in part because of [traditional] foods and medicines,” Beck says. “And because our elders are passing away and global warming is changing how our environment functions, now is a significant time to capture elders’ knowledge and our own community’s history.”

…“Some Westernized foods and medicines are not best for tribal people,” says Carolyn Angus-Hornbuckle, director of public health policy and programs at the National Indian Health Board. “These health disparities are happening throughout Indian Country, and we could see positive health impacts if Blackfeet chose to share Beck’s report and their knowledge with other communities.”

Most scholarly research reports are concealed behind paywalls and easily accessible by only those in academia, but Beck removed that barrier for the Blackfeet people by making her report available for free…

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