Upcoming Events

Member Education Sessions: Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Event Date: Oct 26, 2023 - EST

Member Education Sessions: Indigenous Food Sovereignty

The Indigenous food sovereignty movement has gained momentum among many Tribal communities to regain access to—and control of—their traditional foodways. Indigenous peoples have a rich history of sustainable food production and hunting and gathering practices. However, these practices have been disrupted by colonization, land dispossession, and climate change. Loss of traditional foodways and lack of access to healthy foods have also led to food insecurity in many Tribal communities.     Our moderator, Stephine “Steph” Poston, M.A. (Pueblo of Sandia), and Indigenous community leaders Whitney Sawney (Cherokee Nation) and Natalie Benally (Diné) discuss how philanthropy can best support Indigenous peoples’ efforts to preserve and strengthen traditional food systems while also learning more about the issues, concerns, and strategies impacting food security in Indigenous communities. 

Watch the broadcast now on NAP’s YouTube Channel and be sure to subscribe to the NAP YouTube channel for more informative and important resources on Native communities.

ABOUT OUR SPEAKERS: WHITNEY SAWNEY (Cherokee Nation) (she/her) Director of Communications and Policy, Native American Agriculture Fund   Whitney Sawney, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, is the Director of Communications and Policy for the Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF), the largest philanthropic organization devoted solely to serving Native American farmers and ranchers and advancing agriculture throughout Tribal communities. Whitney is a graduate of the University of Arkansas and has seven years of experience working in policy communications throughout Indian Country. Before joining NAAF, Whitney worked at the National Congress of American Indians and the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, where her work focused on promoting Tribal food sovereignty and agriculture policy research.  

NATALIE BENALLY (Diné) (she/her) Co-Founder & Creative Director of Tse’Nato’ and Executive Producer of the documentary Indigenize the Plate.   Natalie Benally is a dance artist, filmmaker, writer, actress, and community/language advocate from the Navajo Nation. She has directed and choreographed numerous theater productions. Likewise, Benally has also become involved in film and television productions, both as crew and in creative direction. She is the Co-Founder & Creative Director of Tse’Nato’, a mixed-media storytelling company to amplify Indigenous voices and representation. She is the recipient of the Senator John Pinto Native American Filmmakers Fund Grant and the First Peoples Fund Cultural Capital Fellowship. Of note, Benally has performed the lead role of Dory in the Navajo dubbed version of Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo.  Natalie is also the executive producer for the film, Indigenize the Plate, in which she travels from New Mexico to a Quechua community in Peru to learn how they are addressing the link between food sustainability and cultural sustainability for Indigenous communities.   About the Film Indigenize the Plate:   As extraction, water displacement, and climate change impact food sustainability in indigenous communities, this is having a direct impact on cultural sustainability.  A Diné woman travels from the Navajo Nation to a Quechuan community in Peru that has developed a way to address this challenge in their own region.  The Santa Cruz Lodge is a community-owned hospitality space that doubles as a cultural resource center. The business-side supports the cultivation, preparation, and serving of traditional cuisine as well as being made available as a space for ceremonial practices. In the end, the weary traveler from the heart of New Mexico finds parallels between her peoples and the Quechuans and is inspired to return home with the wisdom and knowledge she has gained from the journey. 

MODERATOR: STEPHINE "STEPH" POSTON, M.A. (Pueblo of Sandia) (she/her) President & CEO, Poston & Associates, LLC “Steph” was born and raised on the Sandia Pueblo Indian Reservation. She worked for her Tribe for eleven years before launching Poston & Associates, a full-service communications firm. Steph’s expertise includes strategic facilitation, capacity-building training, leadership development, strategic communication, and event planning. She has worked with numerous Tribes and Tribal entities in New Mexico and throughout Indian Country on public relations and marketing campaigns, sacred site protection, voter empowerment, water rights, Tribal policy development, economic development, education, and healthcare.  She is a co-founder of Native Women Lead and is the current Chairwoman of the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts which hosts Indian Market.  

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