Outcomes Report Following Project Involving Three Minnesota Tribes and Organizations
The report, Food as Economic Development in Native Communities: A Project Outcome Report, was completed earlier this year, but just now made available publically.
In Native communities, the way foods are produced, distributed and consumed has direct implications for community health and cultural retention, as well as economic and community development. Thus, this project was focused on supporting strategies that augment existing tribal efforts to increase economic development opportunities while regaining control of local food systems in a manner relevant to the challenges often observed in Native communities with respect to access to capital, geographic isolation, and limited infrastructure.
In partnership with three Minnesota tribal organizations located within the Otto Bremer Trust’s geographic service area, the project provided financial support, coordinated mentorships, and facilitated a regional convening for all tribes located in Minnesota with the goal of increasing access to resources, knowledge and networking opportunities that would spur economic opportunities and expand local food systems in tribal communities. The three participating organizations were Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, and the White Earth Reservation Tribal Council. The two Native organizations that acted as mentors were Choctaw Fresh Produce, a tribally-owned business of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, and Wozupi Tribal Gardens, owned and operated by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in Minnesota.
Each participating organization was selected based on its ongoing efforts to regain control of local food systems, existing agribusiness initiatives, community and leadership commitment, and readiness to advance to the next level through experiential learning, technical assistance, and guidance through the mentee/mentor partnerships.
Among the many positive outcomes were the development of strategic plans, new jobs created by tribal food initiatives, and even the creation of a Community Development Financial Institution (CDEFI) with a focus on providing technical assistance and financing for tribal food enterprises. The convening itself attracted 60 participants from across Minnesota who learned about topics such as legal and policy considerations, business planning, workforce training, value-added products, and funding opportunities.
The report can be downloaded for free from the First Nations Knowledge Center at this link. (Note: if you don’t already have one, you will need to create a free online account in order to download the publication.)
About First Nations Development Institute
For 37 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, visit www.firstnations.org.