Three Tribes Receive Grants to Change Their Native Food Economies

Food sovereignty initiatives of the Prairie Island Indian Community, Spirit Lake Tribe and Standing Rock Sioux Tribe each received $25,000 infusions from the First Nations Development Institute’s “Changing Native Food Economies in Minnesota and North Dakota” project.

The “Changing Native Food Economies in Minnesota and North Dakota” project aims to help Tribes reclaim control of their community food systems as a means for creating strong, diverse and resilient Native economies.

First Nations announced the grant opportunity for three Native American programs in Minnesota and/or North Dakota, made possible through a grant from the Otto Bremer Trust, in December 2018. 

Grant recipients the Prairie Island Indian Community, Spirit Lake Tribe and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe will build community connections and identify market opportunities that will, in the long term, reduce economic leakage from local food systems and, in so doing, strengthen Tribal sovereignty. The participants will build on already-conducted community food assessments that identified related assets and set the stage for this work.

Prairie Island Indian Community, Welch, Minnesota, $25,000 – The PIIC Food Sovereignty Expansion project aims to enhance the food sovereignty initiative that has been taking place within the community since the Food Sovereignty Assessment was conducted in 2016. It includes leveraging both First Nations’ funds with Tribal resources for a 2019 food sovereignty initiative that includes installing and then expanding a new greenhouse in the community garden, developing food ordinances and food business policies, conducting a local market analysis, creating a business plan to equip the Tribe to begin to sell its own food products in local markets, and training opportunities for achieving these objectives.


Spirit Lake Tribe, Fort Totten, North Dakota, $25,000 – Under the Spirit Lake Food Distribution Program Community Food Systems Project, the Spirit Lake Farm-to-Table Committee will build upon the existing Spirit Lake Healthy Community Coalition, a professional organization committed to benefiting community causes through effective interagency collaboration, and will build important multigenerational community connections to leverage existing food systems resources. It will identify and create local market opportunities and provide culturally-focused agricultural and nutrition education to school-age youth to promote careers in farming and food systems. The Tribe also will conduct a cost-benefit analysis for an indoor garden, aquaponics or hydroponics systems in order to make better use of its available open space.


Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Fort Yates, North Dakota, $25,000 – Under the Traditional Foods Initiative, the Tribe will work to preserve traditional Dakota and Lakota foods and promote community gardens. The Tribe will host four community meetings in years one and two to complete its food sovereignty food assessment, develop a Tribal food charter, recruit at least four families to grow, gather and/or hunt traditional foods to provide educational opportunities for others to learn about the availability of traditional foods, and it will develop a food hub for traditional foods. The program has developed the Traditional Foods Pathway to create access to traditional ethnic foods to include in the meals provided for the participants of the program and for the elderly. The program is also the only Tribal program to run the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program under the USDA.

In addition to the grants, First Nations will provide technical assistance and training that will build the organizations’ capacity, and peer networking that will allow them to form a community of practice. For Native communities, increasing control of the community food system provides opportunities to create jobs and small businesses, increases access to locally-produced and healthier foods, helps family food dollars go farther, and reinforces Tribal food traditions.



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