Shakopee Mdewakanton and First Nations partnership impacts more than 6,000 people in 53 native communities

First Nations Development Institute’s “Growing Food Sovereignty in Native Communities” Report Illustrates Positive Impact of Seeds of Native Health Grants

LONGMONT, Colorado (June 6, 2017) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today published Growing Food Sovereignty in Native Communities: Impact Report 2015-2016. This new report illustrates the significantly positive impact its work has had on Native American communities under First Nations’ participation in the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s (SMSC) Seeds of Native Health campaign.

First Nations was the largest of the SMSC’s inaugural partners in its groundbreaking Seeds of Native Health campaign, which was launched in 2015. Because of First Nations’ “longstanding expertise in efforts to eliminate food insecurity, build the health of communities, and support entrepreneurship and economic development,” it received $1.4 million from the SMSC for re-granting to and management of projects relating to food access, food sovereignty, and capacity building. During 2015 and 2016, First Nations managed 30 separate grants under the program, supporting tribes and Native organizations in numerous states across the U.S.

“Most of Indian Country is in a dietary health crisis. Supporting local efforts to build community gardens and provide access to fresh foods for vulnerable populations is critical to improving Native peoples’ well-being,” said SMSC Chairman Charles R. Vig. “First Nations’ incredible expertise in this area has made them an ideal partner to help tribes and communities address this crisis.”

Growing Food Sovereignty in Native Communities finds that the grants from First Nations led to the community partners/grantees generating 63,613 pounds of harvested vegetables, 56,385 pounds of harvested wild rice, 1,572 pounds of harvested fruit, and 102 pounds of grown medicine, in addition to the more than 250,000 fish that were harvested. Fully 89 percent of these foods and medicines were donated to community members for subsistence purposes. The estimated food revenue that was saved and/or earned was $1.75 million, with the local communities leveraging an additional $1.56 million to support their community projects. These efforts served a total of 6,319 people, including 1,386 elders and 2,555 Native youth.

Efforts included community gardens and smoke houses, farmers’ markets, farm-to-school programs, classes, workshops and other activities. In addition, 129 new jobs and 859 food-related businesses were created or supported, nine new tribal food policies were developed, and two new traditional foods curricula were prepared. First Nations also provided technical assistance and training to grantees to assist with the long-term sustainability of programs, including topics such as strategic planning, business planning, financial recordkeeping, project management, and various specialized technical trainings. The report also highlights lessons learned from community partners that can further food sovereignty and nutrition for Native communities and other partners, including funders. The complete numbers can be found in the report.

“There is a vibrant and active food sovereignty movement taking place in Native communities, and the Seeds of Native Health campaign has been a tremendous asset in furthering the work of this dynamic, Native-led movement,” noted Raymond Foxworth, First Nations’ Vice President of Grantmaking, Development and Communications. “The Growing Food Sovereignty in Native Communities report documents Native innovation when it comes to community-led solutions to improving local food systems and Native nutrition. First Nations is honored to be a partner of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and the Seeds of Native Health campaign that will have a lasting impact in growing strong and healthy Native communities.”

Growing Food Sovereignty in Native Communities is available as a free download from the Knowledge Center on First Nations’ website at (Note: The Knowledge Center requires a free online account in order to download the report and access numerous other free resources.)

The full list of grant recipients can be seen in the report or at

About First Nations Development Institute

For more than 36 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 Join us on Facebook and Twitter!


About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized, sovereign Indian tribe located southwest of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Making its top priority to be a good neighbor, the SMSC is one of the top philanthropists in Minnesota and donates more to charity than any other Indian tribe in America. It also focuses on being a strong community partner and a leader in protecting and restoring natural resources. More information is available at


About Seeds of Native Health

Seeds of Native Health is the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s philanthropic campaign to improve Native American nutrition and food access. Launched in 2015, the $10 million campaign has provided grants to local communities and funded research, education, and capacity-building efforts. Partners include the American Diabetes Association, American Heart Association, AmeriCorps VISTA, Better Way Foundation, the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis’s Center for Indian Country Development, First Nations Development Institute, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, the Notah Begay III Foundation, the University of Arkansas School of Law’s Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, and the University of Minnesota. More information is available at