Extreme poverty and the loss of traditional foods have caused many Native Americans to suffer from poor or inadequate diets. This has led to increased obesity, diabetes, and other profound health problems on a large scale.
Nearly 16% of Native Americans suffer from type 2 diabetes, more than double the percentage of Caucasians. More than 30% of Native Americans are obese. Native Americans are 1.6 times more likely to become obese than Caucasians. Experts agree that 80% of the battle in addressing these health issues is creating access to healthy food. Yet the federal government spends less than $1 million annually on Native American nutrition education.
Important work to solve the problems of Indian nutrition is already being done by many tribes, nonprofits, public health experts, researchers, and advocates on a localized basis.
In 2015, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community formed the Seeds of Native Health campaign to aid these grassroots programs and initiatives. The five-year, $11 million national campaign worked to improve Native American nutrition through grant-making, sharing of best practices, capacity-building, sponsored research, advocacy, and educational initiatives.
The SMSC continues to support food sovereignty work through the tribe’s charitable giving process.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) has committed $11 million to improve the nutrition of Native Americans through its Seeds of Native Health campaign.The SMSC is a federally recognized, sovereign Dakota tribal government located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul in Minnesota.
Following a Dakota tradition of generosity, the SMSC is one of the top philanthropists in Minnesota and is the largest contributor to other tribal governments and causes across the country. It is a strong community partner and a leader in protecting and restoring natural resources. The SMSC’s government, Gaming Enterprise and various other enterprises are collectively the largest employer in Scott County and attract millions of visitors to the region.