Food sovereignty is a movement growing from the ground up, from farmers, ranchers, indigenous peoples and all people of Earth effected by the ever-growing problems of sustainability brought by hunger and poverty. Food sovereignty means, “people have enough food to meet their needs.”
Can you tell me about what the Indigenous Food Sovereignty movement is all about?
Darrah Perez-Good Voice Elk: My Indigenous ancestors knew the importance of caring for Mother Earth; they had respect for all living things. From the animals to the plants to even the smallest of creatures the Native people knew that everything was alive and everything must be cared for in a sacred way.
Before adopting to the white settler’s way of life, the Native people were not prone to sickness and illness the way we see in today’s times. They didn’t experience diabetes, heart troubles, or cancer before the European settler’s came to this region. The reason my ancestors didn’t experience these types of illness was because of what they had consumed. Their food intake included wild game which is low in fat content, wild berries, roots… basically everything that came directly from the land.
When the assimilation efforts began, things changed for the Native people. Commodity food programs took the place of survival and these rationed foods were high in sugars, fats, and carbohydrates. This resulted in a drastic effect on the people and their health.
The Indigenous Food Sovereignty movement is about creating awareness to the food we put into our bodies, and how life sustenance comes from going back to the ancestor’s ways of living off the land to improve the betterment of healthy living.
You were a Co-Producer for a series with WyomingPBS, can you tell us about how you got involved with this project?
Darrah: A good friend of mine, Stefani Smith, is the producer and creator of the series Farm to Fork which identifies the movement back to the source of food. One day she called me and said, “I have this great idea to do a special episode for Farm to Fork. I would like to focus on Indigenous Food Sovereignty, would you be interested in being involved to write and voice this episode?”
I wanted to know more about what she had in mind and over the course of our conversation a contract was created and work began.
How did you meet Stefani?
Darrah: Stefani and I met a few years back at an art event in Fremont County here in Wyoming. The Lander Art Center was hosting their annual Around Town Native American Art Show where I read a poem called Grandfather Bless Me with Unity, which I wrote for that event. At the end of the show Stefani mentioned that her father was also a poet and that she would like for me to meet him. Her father, Lynn Smith, and I developed a friendship and a few months later collaborated for an art show called, How the West was Won, an Homage to the Ancestors. It was during this time that Stefani was able to see my work in action.
At the end of her father’s art show, I thanked her with a blanket for a gift. She mentioned, “I work in film, if there is anything I can do, I would love to help.” It was the beginning of my first poetry video Grandfather Bless me With Unity.
Where can we find this new film episode about the Indigenous Food Sovereignty movement?
Darrah: The Farm to Fork Food Sovereignty In Indian Country will air on WyomingPBS on November 22, 2019 and can be accessed on the WyomingPBS homepage.
Can you tell us more about the Indigenous Food Sovereignty movement before the episode’s release date?
Darrah: Yes, next week I will talk more about the Indigenous Food Sovereignty Movement and a little about the people involved in this film project. Later, I will discuss some of the things I learned and how it has shaped my view of the world and Mother Earth in general.
Thank you Jaymee, I shall share more next week!