Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community funds journal

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) is committing an additional $5 million in new funding over the next two years to its Seeds of Native Health campaign. This raises the campaign’s funding total to $10 million and represents the single-largest coordinated philanthropic effort in American history focused on improving Native American nutrition.

“Most of Indian Country is in a dietary health crisis, caused by food access problems and contributing to the worst health disparities of any group of Americans,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig. “For the past two years, our tribe has collaborated with many partners and helped launch promising new solutions, but a great deal of work remains to be done, and we are committed to continuing to address this crisis.”

Launched by the SMSC in March 2015 with an initial commitment of $5 million, Seeds of Native Health has focused on grant-making, capacity-building projects, sponsored research, and new educational initiatives to support the grassroots food and nutrition movement emerging in Native communities across the country. It has partnered with Native and non-Native organizations and has used its own charitable giving to leverage grants from other funders for investment in Indian Country.

As a result of the new $5 million commitment, the SMSC is developing further strategic partnerships and initiatives to restore Native Americans’ dietary health, foodways, food sovereignty, early childhood development, and economic self-reliance. Among these, the tribe announced three new projects involving collaborations with the American Diabetes Association, Better Way Foundation, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and the University’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Sciences (CFANS).

The gift is directed to the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute (HFHL) for the launch of the International Journal of Indigenous Peoples’ Food, Nutrition and Wellbeing. The SMSC and HFHL the journal, the first-ever academic journal devoted to the scientific study of Native nutrition and dietary health. The peer-reviewed, open-access journal will serve as a new platform to encourage and disseminate academic and Native knowledge. The creation and first year of publication are being funded with a $145,000 founding gift from the SMSC.

“We welcome this new growth in our partnership with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. Together we are merging Indigenous wisdom with academic knowledge to improve Native American nutrition,” said CFANS Dean Brian Buhr. “At CFANS, we know that the food entering our bodies is medicine essential to healthy, fulfilling lives. We also know that the health of the food we eat depends on the health of our natural environment – our soils, water, and other plants and animals on the landscape. This partnership brings us one step closer to assuring healthy decisions and the interconnectedness from the Earth to health of all people.”

“The creation of this journal further elevates the important role which research can play in improving the lives of Native peoples, here close to home as well as across the world,” said Lori Watso, chair of the SMSC’s Seeds of Native Health campaign. “Our tribe is glad to partner with the University in building another vital piece of the knowledge infrastructure necessary for sustaining the Native food and nutrition movement.”