Food Sovereignty Conference

Food Sovereignty Conference at Dartmouth College


Food sovereignty is the ability and right of peoples to grow traditional and healthy foods by way of self-determined and sustainable systems. Food sovereignty is the future of Indian Country. 250 years of Dartmouth’s history have led the college to a unique and promising position to critically engage in ideas important to Native peoples. As part of Dartmouth’s celebration of its 250th year, Foodways in Indigenous Communities centers Indigenous practices and knowledges as they have existed and continue to exist today. Participants will learn of the ways in which tribal nations and Indigenous communities are becoming food sovereign through various initiatives, including some by Dartmouth students and alumni themselves. An experiential gathering, the conference exposes participants to a wide range of events, including workshops at the Hood Museum and the Dartmouth Organic Farm, a film screening at Loew Theater, and feasts at Collis and the Native American House, to experience the diverse ways that traditional foodways are kept alive by Indigenous peoples. Participants will leave the conference with a deeper understanding of the history, meaning, and future of food sovereignty for Indigenous communities.

Monday, May 20, 2019

“Waaki” Film Screening
7:00-9:00 PM, Loew theater, BVAC

Many indigenous people, including the Hopi, Nahua and Maya, have a special connection to maize/corn, synthesized in the statement: We are corn. There are many songs, displays, and ritual practices affirming this connection. Waaki is about the world community connected by maize/corn and the dialogue possible from this experience. Waaki celebrates the human capacity for tolerance and compassion- a self-awareness needed in these days when people are becoming more intolerant of difference. 

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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Tribal Food Sovereignty Initiatives
4:30-5:30 pm, Carpenter 013

The Quapaw Nation has been rapidly expanding its agricultural operations since 2010. Roper’s talk will explore the Quapaw Tribe’s Agricultural operations, which include the following: bison, Angus beef, goats, greenhouses, bees, meat processing facility, row crops, coffee roasting facility and a dog training facility.

Chris Roper is the Agricultural Director for Quapaw Nation.  Chris has worked with the Quapaw Nation for over 10 years managing and overseeing multiple departments and projects along with the Agriculture program. The Quapaw Nation has been rapidly expanding its agricultural operations since 2010.  The Quapaw Tribes Agricultural operations include the following: bison, Angus beef, goats, greenhouses, bees, meat processing facility, row crops, coffee roasting facility and a dog training facility.

Indigenous Dartmouth Students and Alumni panel on foodways in their communities
5:45-6:45 pm, Carpenter 013

Dartmouth students and alumni do work in their individual communities related to sustaining indigenous foodways and traditional agricultural practices. In this panel, they will explore what food sovereignty means to them and how they practice it at Dartmouth and beyond it.

Jaren Numkena ‘17 has been farming using traditional techniques that have been passed down for generations since he was a child. He is now the 4th generation farmer on his family’s fields that have been in cultivation for almost 100 years. Recently, he has been involved in teaching gardening classes on the Navajo reservation and helping community members build their own gardens to produce their own food.

Polimana Joshevama ‘19 is Sun Clan Hopi from Tucson, Arizona and is majoring in Environmental Studies, with a pre-med track. Her love of plants that started with learning traditional farming methods in her grandfather’s fields has blossomed into a houseplant collection that has taken over her dorm room. Her formative planting years were spent at the San Xavier Co-op Farm which uses a combination of Tohono O’odham dry farming methods and contemporary agricultural practices.

Maleah Wenzel ‘20 is a budding traditional foods and medicines expert from Wrangell, Alaska. She is Tlingit from the Kiks.adi frog clan. Throughout her life, she has studied under her many grandmothers, aunties, and cousins. Currently, she primarily studies under traditional food and medicines expert Vivian Mork of the T’akdeintaan clan and writer/harvester Vivian Prescott of the Saami tribe. Her work and activism focus on women’s and children’s rights, the protection of traditional resources - particularly regarding the Red Chris Mine and the Stikine River, and the continuation of traditional knowledges.

Keynote Dinner
7:00-9:00 pm, Collis Commonground

Sean Sherman will have participants experience food sovereignty through a decolonized, four-course, plated dinner. His dinner and talk will be followed by a keynote speech by Valerie Segrest, who will explain the meaning of food sovereignty for her and how it manifests in her work. Some of the ingredients for the dinner will be collected from the Upper Valley Area.

Chef Sean Sherman (Oglala Lakota) born in Pine Ridge, SD, has been cooking across the US and Mexico over the past 30 years, and has become renowned nationally and internationally in the culinary movement of indigenous foods. His main focus has been on the revitalization and evolution of indigenous foods systems throughout North America. Chef Sean has studied on his own extensively to determine the foundations of these food systems to gain a full understanding of bringing back a sense of Native American cuisine to today’s world. In 2014, he opened the business titled, The Sioux Chef as a caterer and food educator in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area.  He and his business partner Dana Thompson also designed and opened the Tatanka Truck, which featured pre-contact foods of the Dakota and Minnesota territories. 

In October 2017, Sean was able to perform the first decolonized dinner at the James Beard House in Manhattan along with his team. His first book, The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen was awarded the James Beard medal for Best American Cookbook for 2018 and was chosen one of the top ten cookbooks of 2017 by the LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle as well as the Smithsonian Magazine.This year, Chef Sean was selected as a Bush Fellow. This year, Sean Sherman was selected by the James Beard Foundation for their 2019 Leadership Award. The Sioux Chef team of twelve people continues with their mission to help educate and make indigenous foods more accessible to as many communities as possible through the recently founded nonprofit North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NATIFS). Learn more at

Valerie Segrest (Muckleshoot) is a native nutrition educator who specializes in local and traditional foods. As an enrolled member of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, she serves her community as the coordinator of the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project and also works as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction. She co-authored the books “Feeding the People, Feeding the Spirit: Revitalizing Northwest Coastal Indian Food Culture” and “Feeding Seven Generations: A Salish Cookbook”. Valerie received a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University and a Masters Degree in Environment and Community from Antioch University. She is a Kellogg Food and Community Fellow at the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy.Valerie aims to inspire and enlighten others about the importance of a nutrient-dense diet through a culturally appropriate, common sense approach to eating.

Speaker and Student Reception
9:00-10:00pm, One Wheelock

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Traditional Growing practices and Abenaki Foodways
12:00-3:00 pm, Dartmouth Organic Farm

Arthur Hanchett will lead participants in engaging in Abenaki growing practices at the organic farm, with explanations of the work he and his community do in the Upper Valley. He will be accompanied by the Black Hawk Singers. Transportation will be available to and from campus.

Arthur Hanchett is an Abenaki leader and educator in the Upper Valley area of New Hampshire and Vermont. Art has deep rooted ties to local farming, sugaring, foraging, food preparation, preservation of vegetables, herbs and meats with knowledge of historical means plus adaptive practices to ensure food is safe.  Heand his wife can pickle and make maple candies/cream, fruit and herb preserves along with drying salt and spice curing of meats. They live in rural Vermont where they are building their home, outbuildings, clearing land and raise an abundance of squash and other vegetables for winter stores plus support family/tribal events in the local area.

Exploring Foodways through Art and Artifacts
4:00-5:00 pm, The Hood Museum of Art

Participants will hear and learn about artifacts in the Native American Arts collection of the Hood that indigenous peoples have used and continue to use to practice food sovereignty. Participants will learn ways in which food sovereignty is an interdisciplinary ideology and will be able to view and discuss food sovereignty as an expressive art form. Victor Masayesva will lead students in discussion and engagement with these objects.

Photographer and videomaker Victor Masayesva, Jr. (Hopi) began teaching high school students to document the oral histories of elders in Hotevilla, Arizona in 1980. In the decades since, Masayesva has become internationally recognized for his expressive and experimental style. He received a Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship in 1988 and ITVS funding for his film Imagining Indians in 1991, and has received funding from the Ford Foundation and the National Foundation for the Arts. In 1995, Masayesva won the American Film Institute’s Maya Deren Award for Independent Film and Video Artists. Masayesva’s work has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Northern Arizona and the Whitney Museum of Art. He is represented in Santa Fe by the Andrew Smith Gallery. His highly acclaimed book Husk of Time: The Photographs of Victor Masayesva was published in 2006 by the University of Arizona press. He also co-edited Hopi Photographers/Hopi Images. Masayesva received a BA in literature from Princeton University.

The Future of Agriculture in Indigenous Communities
5:15-6:15 pm, Kemeny 008

What does the future of food in Indigenous communities look like? Ross Racine will share his journey with food sovereignty and the incredible work that he does along with the Intertribal Agricultural Council to sustain and revitalize Indigenous foodways, and how those have shaped and will shape the future of agricultural for Indian Country moving forward.

Ross Racine (Blackfeet) is a veteran of the USMC, and has spent 28 years working on farms and ranches in the Browning, Montana area. His journey began with the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a Soil Conservationist working with Indian livestock producers on the Blackfeet Reservation.  Ross’ entire professional career has been spent working with Indian farmers and ranchers in the development and management of their resources and he has extensive cross-cultural experience. As the Executive Director for the IAC, he has been most active in assisting USDA in bringing equitable services to Indian producers.

He has served on the NRCS Chiefs Reinvention Forum Executive Committee, the Chief’s team regarding negotiation of the NRCS-Conservation District agreement, conducted problem solving outreach for NRCS on a special assignment throughout Indian Country, initiated and participated in the early SCS Harmony workshops, was co-chairman of the BIA’s writing team on regulation creation for resource planning required under PL103-177. Other involvements include National Agriculture Statistics Service Advisory Committee, Extension Indian Reservation Program Advisory Committee, Indian Land Tenure Foundation Board Secretary/Treasurer, Chairman of the Agriculture Committee for the National Congress of American Indians and served as a Technical Advisor for the Agriculture Transition Team for the Obama Administration. Locally Ross served 6 years on the local school board.

Closing Traditional Foods Feast
6:30-8:30 pm, Native American House

Chef Liz Charlebois will lead volunteer indigenous Dartmouth students in preparing their traditional foods in a closing traditional foods feast. The dinner will round out with a performance by the Black Hawk Singers.

Liz Charlebois is an Abenaki educator, nurse, artist, and leader. She served as Chair of the New Hampshire Commission on Native American Affairs from 2013-2016, and is an accomplished basket maker, bead worker, dancer, and farmer.  Liz's focus is growing and preserving northeastern indigenous crops.  She has established a seed library dedicated to those seeds.  Liz uses the food she grows in many indigenous dishes, both traditional and contemporary.  She is a member of the younger generation of Abenaki people who are working to preserve and revitalize the culture, history, and identity of our original inhabitants.