Echo Hawk Consulting releases “Feeding Ourselves: Food Access, Health Disparities, and the Pathways to Healthy Native American Communities”

Echo Hawk Consulting, headed by Crystal Echo Hawk, released today a comprehensive report on the state of food access in Native American communities, and the resulting health disparities in Native Americans.  The report – commissioned by the American Heart Association (AHA) and its Voices for Healthy Kids®a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and AHA – calls for tribes, the federal government, and philanthropic organizations to serve as agents of change in the area of Native food access.

Written with Janie Simms Hipp, Director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, and Wilson Pipestem of Pipestem Law, the report describes the problem Natives face:

“Now-repudiated federal policies that forcibly separated Native peoples from our historical lands and traditional sources of food are manifesting in our bodies today. Separation from healthy foods has been one of the most pernicious health problems we endure. The epidemics of obesity and diabetes in Native communities, even among our children, are direct consequences of limited access to healthy food.”

Feeding Ourselves examines success stories from grassroots programs in tribal communities that inspire and educate.  The authors then suggest specific pathways for tribes, the federal government, and philanthropists to empower Native people to solve these difficult problems.

About Feeding Ourselves, National Congress of American Indians President Brian Cladoosby says:

“American Indians and Alaska Natives since time immemorial have relied on our traditional foods, or First Foods, to sustain us. The ability of Indian Country to feed itself with healthy, local, and traditional foods is a not only a critical part of a strong tribal community, it’s vital to tribal sovereignty. Feeding Ourselves is an excellent resource for tribal communities to see the extent of the food-related issues in Indian Country and begin to develop tribally-driven solutions using the information in the report and our collective wisdom to solve them.  I highly recommend this report as required reading for all of Indian Country.”

Chairman Charlie Vig of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community says:

Feeding Ourselves provides a clear analysis of and important solutions to the dietary problems among Native American communities which undermine so devastatingly our peoples’ health. All of us who are working to improve Native nutrition must applaud the American Heart Association and the authors of this report for casting a bright light on this crisis for a wider audience.”

About Echo Hawk Consulting

Echo Hawk Consulting offers expert services in executive nonprofit leadership, philanthropic giving, community development, program design, fundraising, public relations and marketing to tribes, grant makers, businesses, nonprofit organizations and philanthropic individuals focused on strategic growth, social change, and investment in Indian Country. For more information visit

About the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative

The University of Arkansas School of Law’s Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, is the nation’s first law school initiative focusing on tribal food systems, agriculture and community sustainability. Janie Simms Hipp serves as the Director and a visiting law professor. The initiative provides educational and technical assistance to tribal governments, private entities and businesses engaging or entering the food sector. Other areas of research, service and education include agriculture, health and nutrition law and policy development, and the formation of pipeline programs to engage Native students in four-year higher education institutions, law and graduate opportunities. For more information visit:

About Pipestem Law

Founded by Wilson Pipestem in 1999, Pipestem Law serves tribal governments and other Indian country clients on matters related to protection of tribal sovereignty, exercising tribal rights, and holding the federal government accountable for its treaty and trust obligations to Indian country.

About the American Heart Association 

The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – the two leading causes of death in the world. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. For more information visit

About Voices for Healthy Kids

Voices for Healthy Kids®, is a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and AHA. Voices for Healthy Kids works to help all young people eat healthier foods and be more active. Nearly one in three kids and teens are overweight or obese. By engaging, organizing and mobilizing people in communities across the United States, Voices for Healthy Kids will help make the healthy choice the easy choice in the places where children live, learn, and play. To learn more:


Executive Summary   Full Report PDF