Thursday, December 9, 2021
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New US government initiatives to support Native American farmers

The United States government has announced a number of initiatives to help Native American farmers.

Following a White House Tribal Leaders Summit last week, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled the new commitments to serving “Indian Country”.

“USDA respects the unique nation-to-nation relationship between the federal government and tribal nations,” said Mr Vilsack.

“Today we launch initiatives that reframe and reimagine how USDA supports indigenous agriculture and tribal communities.

“These are among the bold actions by the Biden-Harris administration to ensure that USDA appropriately engages tribal nations in a way that aligns with their sovereignty and our nation’s trust and treaty responsibility.”

The USDA Indigenous Food Sovereignty Initiative promotes traditional food ways, Indian Country food and agriculture markets, and indigenous health through foods tailored to American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) dietary needs.

USDA is partnering with tribal-serving organisations on seven projects to reimagine federal food and agriculture programmes from an indigenous perspective and inform future USDA programmes and policies.

The projects include the launch of new seed-saving centres, video series on wild food foraging and indigenous cuisine featuring chef Sean Sherman (founder of the company The Sioux Chef), marketing Native-produced foods, and a manual on transitioning from cattle to bison production.

USDA has also committed to expanding tribal self-determination, enabling greater self-governance and decision making on USDA programmes and policies that affect tribal nations.

The new USDA-DOI Tribal Treaty Database, compiled together with the Oklahoma State University, will provide online access to tribal treaties.

This database will assist federal agencies with implementing treaty obligations.

The database will be publicly available, word searchable, and indexed.

Users can search the database by tribe, state, and key words such as rights-of-way and hunting and fishing provisions.

The Agriculture Secretary also launched the new USDA Hall of Tribal Nations reflecting the government-to-government relationship and trust responsibility to tribal nations.

The hall currently features tribal nation flags, and USDA invites more tribal nations to contribute flags.

The hall also showcases Native artwork donated from across Indian Country and displays of indigenous and Native produced foods.

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