Champion for Change Engages with Native Leaders on Food Sovereignty & Nutrition

fertile ground II

On May 2-4, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) co-sponsored “Fertile Ground II: Growing the Seeds for Native American Health”, a convening designed to explore opportunities for advancing policy work relating to nutrition, food access, and other issues affecting health outcomes in Indian Country.

During the three-day conference in Minneapolis, participants discussed traditional healthy food production, food sovereignty, and nutrition; youth leadership and intergenerational holistic health; and ideas for creating healthier child care systems, schools and communities. 2016 Champion for Change Brayden White joined Native American leaders, national philanthropic organizations, and other Native youth advocates to discuss and develop solutions to address the health crisis in Indian Country.

Brayden White, 2016 Champion for Change
Brayden White, 2016 Champion for Change

CNAY caught up with Brayden after the conference to learn about some of the convening’s highlights. Brayden was excited to tell us about the Navajo Nation’s junk food tax, “Sioux Chef” Sean Sherman‘s passion for using indigenous ingredients to replace the harmful foods that make up much of our diets today, and his pre-conference tour of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s sustainable organic farm, which provides organic produce and other resources for tribal families. Representatives of Tanka Bar, a Native-owned health food company, were also present at the event, offering samples of their bison and cranberry bars to conference attendees. “Tanka Bar is supporting healthy lifestyles,” said Brayden. He shared that easy access to junk food is something he battles on his own tribal nation. “Everywhere you go, there are candy bars. There isn’t really a store that promotes healthy power bars.”

Brayden is looking forward to sharing what he learned at Fertile Ground II with his fellow St. Regis Mohawk tribal members. “The solutions are so simple,” he says. “It’s all right in front of us!”

To learn more about Fertile Grounds II: Growing the Seeds of Native American Health, click here.

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