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First Nations Development Institute Awards $355,717 in Native Agriculture & Food Systems Grants to 13 Tribes and Indian Organizations in Eight States


LONGMONT, Colorado (April 21, 2016) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today announced the selection of 13 tribes and Native American organizations to receive grants through its Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI) for the 2016-17 funding cycle. The grants total $355,717.

NAFSI is designed to help tribes and Native communities build sustainable food systems such as community gardens and kitchens, traditional farms and ranches, and other agriculture- and food-related projects that will help eliminate food insecurity and enhance economic development in rural and reservation-based Native communities. Including these 2016 grants, First Nations has awarded 182 grants totaling more than $5 million to tribes and Native organizations dedicated to reclaiming control of Native food systems. Since 2011, First Nations has been the largest grantmaker in Indian Country (outside of the federal government) that supports programmatic efforts to reclaim control of Native food systems.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) has been a major supporter of NAFSI. In 2011, WKKF awarded First Nations $2.88 million to support agriculture and food-related projects that improve the physical health and well-being of Native American children, families and communities. Between 2011 and 2014, NAFSI grantees funded via WKKF’s support planted, grew and harvested approximately 428,915 pounds of fresh fruits, vegetables and meats, equivalent to more than 200 tons of healthy, nutritious food. In 2015, WKKF provided an additional grant of $2.95 million to extend First Nations’ work in the area of Native agriculture and food systems for three years, 2015 through 2017. These 2016 grants are made possible by that funding.

The 13 projects selected for 2016-2017 will build off of the experiences and lessons learned from previous First Nations grantees. These innovative projects range from community-based efforts such as gardens and farmers’ markets, to youth entrepreneur programs and agriculture curriculum that will help grow the next generation of Native food-system leaders:

California Indian Museum & Culture Center, Santa Rosa, California, $30,000 – The "Bi Du Ka Nemay: Advancing Cultural Opportunities for Reclaiming Nutrition" (ACORN) project seeks to increase consumption of acorns by California Indians and others and advance local tribal traditions associated with acorn gathering and processing. Acorns, once a staple food of many California tribes, are no longer part of everyday diets. About 20 Native youth will develop a recipe for an energy bar made of acorn flour and other local, healthy ingredients and determine the needs associated with producing and selling the product commercially.

Crow Tribe of Montana, Crow Agency, Montana, $30,000 – The "Crow Nation Youth Farm and Ranch Leadership Program" is a pilot project to serve 10 to 12 youth in junior agriculture production as beginning farmers and ranchers on the Crow reservation. Participants will be mentored by seasoned agricultural leaders and learn about financial literacy, livestock evaluation, conservation management, animal husbandry, marketing, ranch management and related topics.

Fort Belknap Community Economic Development, Harlem, Montana, $30,000 – The "Red Paint Creek Greenhouse Project" will construct a greenhouse to grow fresh produce. It will ensure the residents an opportunity to purchase fresh organic garden vegetables to instill healthy eating and lifestyles. The residents currently have a diet of high-carbohydrate, processed foods found in stores in neighboring communities. The youth of these communities will have the opportunity to practice this life-changing event and promote healthy eating habits.

Hannahville Indian Community, Wilson, Michigan, $29,385 – The "Food Sovereignty Phase II" project will improve the facilities, storage space and, thus, food safety for an existing greenhouse and aquaponics facility that produces a variety of herbs, vegetables and fish, some of which is served in the school lunch program and some of which is sold at local farmers' markets.

Ilisagvik College, Barrow, Alaska, $30,000 – The "Healthy Futures Program," established in 2014, delivers quality, hands-on instruction in nutrition, basic cooking and household budgeting to Iñupiaq residents in seven remote villages of the North Slope Borough. Instructors travel to the villages to provide instruction tailored to participants aged 5 to 25, along with elder involvement. Participants engage in workshops that integrate traditional foods and knowledge, with the aim of addressing high rates of diabetes and obesity in arctic Alaska.

Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Housing & Community, L'Anse, Michigan, $30,000 – The "Keweenaw Bay Fishers' Association" project will serve the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community by increasing efficiencies in local fish production, increasing the volume of local tribal-member fish production enough to sustain an eventual fishers' cooperative, increasing tribal-member control of local fish production and the local fish market, and increasing awareness of and access to locally-caught fresh fish.

Meskwaki Food Sovereignty Initiative & Local Foods, Tama, Iowa, $27,439 – The "Seed to Seed: Healthy Traditional Food Access Through Seed Sovereignty" project supports wellness through food and seed sovereignty activities, and increases the connection and access to traditional foods for the Sac and Fox of the Mississippi in Iowa. The project impacts students and staff at the Meskwaki Settlement School by expanding and supporting the farm-to-school program activities and gardens.

Native Village of Port Heiden, Port Heiden, Alaska, $30,000 – The "Meshik Farm Reindeer Sustainability Project" will increase the reindeer population at the tribal/community reindeer farm, helping put the farm on the path to long-term food sustainability for the village. The project will purchase and transport additional reindeer, which over 10 years can increase the herd by more than 500. This project is a cultural, economic and community effort that positively impacts the people and economy, and provides a food source that is gone because they cannot hunt caribou.

Northern California Tribal Court Coalition, Talent, Oregon, $1,500 – This grant is a sponsorship to support the "Restoring Balance: A Food Sovereignty Gathering" conference planned by the coalition.

Red Willow Center, Taos, New Mexico, $30,000 – The "Growing a Food System at Taos Pueblo - Growing Healthy Kids Initiative" will focus on strengthening partnerships and collaborating with several tribal programs -- Community Health, Senior Center and Head Start -- as well as a new partnership with the Taos Pueblo Day School on creating a healthy community food system at Taos Pueblo. This will include planning, planting, growing, harvesting, preparing and educating the community on how to grow food, which foods to grow, and healthy meal planning, and developing a healthy meal plan for school students, building a school garden, and developing an age-appropriate science curriculum based on traditional and modern methods of farming and healthy eating and cooking. It also includes building a community compost, new wheelchair-accessible raised-beds at the Senior Center and a new water catchment/irrigation system.

Tyonek Tribal Conservation District, Anchorage, Alaska, $28,000 – The "Developing Food Systems for Alaska Native Villages" project will involve outreach, training and technical assistance to Alaska Native farmers and ranchers in 13 Native villages to primarily enhance food security by increasing knowledge, skills and tools available to them. The effort will demonstrate sustainable agricultural practices, planning, and business and operational processes to support local food production and increase access to healthy and fresh foods, while linking with traditional customs and economic opportunities.

Waimea Hawaiian Homesteaders' Association, Kamuela, Hawaii, $30,000 – The "Waimea Nui Inc. Farmers' Market" will serve the region’s agricultural lessees under the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act, specifically 43 families who have participated, completed and are now farming in the association’s "Farming for the Working Class" program. The new farmers' market will service the entire Waimea Community of 15,000, of which 6,000 are Native Hawaiians, while bringing additional income to the Native community.

Wiyot Tribe, Loleta, California, $29,393 – The "Wiyot Tribe Healthy and Traditional Food Systems Initiative" (Table Bluff Reservation Healthy and Traditional Food Systems Initiative) is a multifaceted approach to secure greater food sovereignty and sustainability within the Wiyot tribal community. It involves the development of the tribe's community and traditional gardens, creation of a food pantry and distribution program, food education workshops, and the reclamation of traditional plant- and marine-harvesting practices.

About First Nations Development Institute

For more than 35 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information about First Nations, visit

About the W.K. Kellogg Foundation

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life. The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Michigan, and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans, and, internationally, in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit


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