Whose food systems matter? The Story of Manoomin (wild rice).


1 p.m., Feb. 25, 2022

This talk was presented on February 25, 2022 by Dr. Marie Schaefer. Manoomin, the Anishinaabemowin word for wild rice, has long been an essential component to the survival and identity of the Anishinaabeg (the Indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes region). Yet Anishinaabeg capacities to subsist from manoomin have diminished greatly. In this talk, Dr. Schaefer will examine the impacts of settler colonialism and commodification on manoomin, tracing how it went from being grown only in the Great Lakes region to being grown primarily on farms in California. She will discuss how Native food sovereignty and the rights of nature movements fight against settler colonialism's takeover of Indigenous food systems.  

Dr. Marie Schaefer is a transdisciplinary scientist whose work focuses on how collaborations between Indigenous and scientific knowledges can contribute to sustainable futures. She is of Anishinaabe (Odawa) and European settler descent and has over a decade of experience working with Tribal nations. As the Tribal Climate Strategies Research Scholar at the U.S. Geological Survey's Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center (SE CASC), Marie develops and conducts climate change research with Tribal nations across the Southeast CASC region. Marie is also an Advisory Council member of the Northeast Indigenous Climate Resilience Network. Marie holds a Ph.D. in Community Sustainability from Michigan State University and an M.A. in Applied Anthropology from Northern Arizona University.

Dr. Shaefer was joined by panelists Sterling Johnson, Farm Manager and Farm Mentor, Ajo Sustainable Agriculture and Michael Kotutwa Johnson Ph.D., Former Program Officer, Native American Agriculture Fund. 

Sterling Johnson was born and raised on the Tohono O’odham Nation in a ranching and rodeo family and is an accomplished bull rider himself. Sterling is a graduate of the former Tohono O’odham Community Action’s Beginning Farmer Program, and has continued the teaching to develop a new youth and adult education program in Ajo and on the Tohono O'odham reservation through his work with the Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture. He currently farms 2 dry-land fields, a 1-acre urban farm, teaches weekly classes in two high schools, and has overseen 15 farming apprentices and 12 youth interns over the past three years. He also organizes the participatory seed bank and O'odham Farmers Market to help community members and small businesses.

Michael Kotutwa Johnson, Ph.D., is a former Program Officer for the Native American Agriculture Fund which is a private charitable trust dedicated to serving the needs of American Indian farmers, ranchers, and fishers. Michael has also published various works on topics related to Indigenous conservation and traditional based agriculture. However, Michael feels his most valued attribute is continuing the process of Hopi dry farming from lessons derived from Michael's grandfather and Hopi people.

Below is a full video of the talk. 

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