Slow Food Turtle Island Association Takes Root: First Anniversary of a Promising Native Amercian Association

It was a year ago, during the Anishinaabeg Makoonsi-Giisis (Bear Cub Moon), aka February, that the Slow Food Turtle Island Association was officially and historically formed in Taos, New Mexico. Our Turtle Island Association of Slow Food International is aligned with the Slow Food ethos to promote good, clean, fair food for all with a focus on the First Foods of the Native Peoples of Turtle Island (Canada, US, Mexico, including Hawaii). We aim to address food issues for our communities, including health and well-being, land use and farming, food policy, and the protection and revitalization of rare, heirloom food varieties, including the traditional knowledge and practices related to them.

This new association has grown out of a decade-long process of collaboration between Native American farmers, food producers, chefs, and advocates with Slow Food International, Slow Food USA, and the wider Terra Madre network. Many of us had traveled to Italy to share the knowledge of the Presidia Anishinaabeg manoomin (wild rice), Navajo churro sheep and the Ark of Taste products such as the Iroquois White corn, Okanagan salmon, and many other Native American traditional foods and issues. One of our committed leaders, Winona LaDuke, since the beginning advocated for Native food issues with Slow Food getting our sacred wild rice on the Ark of Taste and the Presidia opening right after they were formed. Some of us had been a part of other Slow Food projects and the Cultural Conservancy produced the Native American Food Pavilion at the first Slow Food Nation in San Francisco in 2008.

Our association is led by a 10-member steering committee and we are currently engaged in an outreach effort to assess interest and offerings and build our membership. Members of our steering committee include Native American-led nonprofit organizations, Native individuals and associations. Key leadership comes from the Taos Country Economic Development Corporation, Cultural Conservancy, Intertribal Agriculture Council, Honor the Earth, Traditional Native American Farmer’s Association, Four Bridges Traveling Permaculture Institute, International Indian Treaty Council, Navajo Lifeway, Inc. and others.

Today, a year later, our association is growing and developing as a key player in the national and international food sovereignty movements. Many of us participated in Terra Madre 2016 in Turin, Italy, where we showcased our foods and issues at our Turtle Island Association booth and many spoke on panels, workshops, and did cultural demonstrations and chef’s tastings. Today our members are involved in many exciting projects to safeguard the sanctity of our native foods and cultural practices.

In addition to growing our association with strategic planning meetings, we are currently planning our participation in Slow Food Nations in Denver, Colorado in July, 2017, where we will showcase our foods at a Pavilion with chef tastings, information, and presentations. We are also involved with the Indigenous Terra Madre (ITM) network and are interested in having a significant role in the next ITM conference. With invitations from Italy, we look forward to continuing to help “indigenize” the Slow Food movement, and with alliances with our networks and partners, we continue to protect and renew our relationships with our traditional foods and native lands.

For more information:

Navajo Churro Lamb Presidium
Contact: info@navajolifeway.org

Anishinaabeg Manoomin Presidium

Four Bridges Traveling Permaculture Institute
Contact: fourbridges@live.com

Turtle Island Association at Slow Food Nations
Dan Cornelius: dan@indianaglink.com

Native Foodways Program of the Cultural Conservancy
Indivan Valley Organic Farm