15 tribes and Native American organizations receive “Seeds of Native Health” grants totaling $523,000 from First Nations Development Institute

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today announced the awarding of 15 grants totaling $523,000 under the Seeds of Native Health campaign. Seeds of Native Health – created and funded by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) and announced earlier this year – is a major philanthropic effort to improve the nutrition of Native Americans across the country. It encompasses efforts to improve awareness of Native nutrition problems, promote wider application of proven best practices, and encourage additional work related to food access, education and research.


First Nations is one of SMSC’s strategic partners in the effort. The newly announced grantees below represent the inaugural, first-year grantees under First Nations’ two-year partnership with SMSC. The grantees are:

  1. Bishop Paiute Tribe, Bishop, California, $40,000 – This project will serve tribal members in surrounding communities by increasing access to traditional and organic foods through continued use of the existing Tribal Food Sovereignty Farm and the Tribal Community Market. The tribe will work toward farm sustainability, hold traditional food workshops and support use of local resources and land management.
  2. Igiugig Village, Igiugig, Alaska, $39,794 – This project will increase food security through greenhouse-grown fresh produce. It will also train local residents to preserve the food throughout the year as well as promote youth entrepreneurial opportunities through a traditional food stand.
  3. Intertribal Agriculture Council, Billings, Montana, $17,887 – This project will implement a tribally-supported agriculture project to improve access to healthy and traditional foods in the Great Lakes Region. There will be a promotional campaign to build interest, as well as a focus on improvements in online ordering.
  4. Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Cass Lake, Minnesota, $33,743 – This project will create a community garden at the tribal school that will focus on healthy and local meal choices. The tribe will purchase and develop a greenhouse and garden beds for students and community members to cultivate traditional crops, and conduct classroom lessons, workshops, trainings and other activities aimed at developing a holistic approach to wellness.
  5. Little Big Horn College, Crow Agency, Montana, $40,000 – This project will increase knowledge of and access to fresh produce through gardening, beginning on the Little Big Horn campus. It will also promote health through the exercise of gardening and by building respect for growing one’s own food. The project includes educational workshops and trainings.
  6. Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative, Okmulgee, Oklahoma, $40,000 – This project will promote healthy eating using each household’s own land for food production. It will include classes on farming and gardening skills where community members will learn how to grow on their land as well as how to help their neighbors do the same.
  7. Nez Perce Tribe, Lapwai, Idaho, $37,629 – This project will promote good health, diet and exercise through community gardening and the building of a smokehouse and pavilion in the existing community garden that will be dedicated to processing local food.
  8. North Leupp Family Farms, Leupp, Arizona, $34,650 – This project will serve Navajo Nation residents in the southwest side of the reservation where there is little access to food. The grantee will purchase fresh produce from family farmers so it can be stored, processed, marketed and distributed to the food markets, schools, restaurants, elder centers and other places.
  9. Painted Desert Demonstration Project, DBA the STAR School, Flagstaff, Arizona, $40,000 – This project will engage Navajo youth students in growing, processing, cooking and serving meals to the community by constructing a greenhouse adjacent to the community kitchen. The students also will create recipes for the locally-grown foods and will explore entrepreneurial opportunities with the produce.
  10. Pueblo of Nambé, Santa Fe, New Mexico, $37,404 – This project will continue to teach the Indigenous traditional knowledge of farming and agriculture. The pueblo will hire two farm technicians to help expand the production of fresh produce and coordinate upgrades in equipment and irrigation to suit the expansion.
  11. Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, Red Lake, Minnesota, $39,171 – This project will work to improve nutrition in the Red Lake Reservation as well as stimulate the local food economy. The tribe will educate community members on growing their own food, coordinate a pre-diabetes program, and enroll participants into educational 16-week trainings to promote health.
  12. Seneca Diabetes Foundation, Irving, New York, $32,040 – This project will work to restore Native plant usage in the community. The White Corn Project will focus on the cultivation, processing and distribution of white corn to the Seneca Nation through the use of farmers’ markets. They will use volunteers to assist and to raise community awareness.
  13. The Suquamish Tribe, Suquamish, Washington, $28,773 – This project will bring together elders and other community members through the building of five smokehouses where youth will be able to learn traditional skills to feed themselves and their families. They also plan to develop a culturally-based curriculum for tribal schools, conduct creative outreach for nutritional education, and reinforce the reciprocal relationship and responsibility to protect their homeland.
  14. Zuni Youth Enrichment Project, Zuni, New Mexico, $40,000 – This project will promote small-scale local agriculture, improve the local food system, and facilitate intergenerational knowledge exchange by constructing an outdoor learning space and farmers’ market area. It will also coordinate gifting some of the garden produce to the community as well as including it in the commercial food system.
  15. Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation, Porcupine, South Dakota, $21,909 – The Food Sovereignty Initiative is a new project that will serve the Oglala Lakota Nation. The organization will assemble and coordinate a Lakota Food Sovereignty Coalition, continue the successful community garden program, as well as launch community education workshops targeting families and youth to encourage the development of a sustainable agriculture demonstration farm and an aquaponics greenhouse.

Seeds of Native Health is a comprehensive, national campaign to improve Native American nutrition through capacity building, education and research, supported by the SMSC. The campaign builds on localized efforts to solve the problems of Indian nutrition and hopes to raise awareness, spread knowledge, create capacity for change, and develop additional solutions on a broader scale. Learn more at www.seedsofnativehealth.org/testingvc.

About First Nations Development Institute
For 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 www.firstnations.org.

About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
The SMSC is a federally recognized sovereign Indian tribe located southwest of Minneapolis, Minnesota. The SMSC has a deep-seated tradition of helping other tribes and Native American people. The Seeds of Native Health campaign represents a new extension of its long history of philanthropy, by committing a portion of its annual charitable giving to a dedicated purpose. Since opening its Gaming Enterprise in the 1990s, the SMSC has donated more than $300 million to organizations and causes and has contributed millions more to regional governments and infrastructure projects such as roads, water and sewer systems, and emergency services. For more information, visit www.shakopeedakota.org.