In this unstable, post-modern world, our food can be one vehicle through which we reassemble our fragmented identities, reestablish community and become native not only to a place but to each other.
One of the greatest examples of self-sustainability is the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin’s Tsyunhehkwa programs.
This is a culturally based strategy that is aligning tribal practices with international organic standards. Tsyunhehkwa has three components: agriculture, cannery, and retail.
- Agriculture: Over 5,000 acres of croplands include about 500 grass-fed Black Angus cattle and bison, with over 30 acres of rotational crops such as white corn, strawberries, and pumpkin. The organic farm hosts many public events, including the ceremonial harvesting of heirloom white corn and braiding of cornhusks.
- Cannery: This educational and preservation facility is open to the public and cans organic foodstuffs such as jams/jellies, salsa, apple products, and the tribal white corn. Workshops are offered on topics including food preservation methods, shelf life, and how integrated pest management strategies work in traditional settings
- Retail: Much of this goodness can be purchased at the Oneida retail store or One Stop; for instance, you can now buy online gift boxes with varied products from the Oneida apple orchard, farm, and cannery.
While this Oneida success story focuses on food, the community embeds practical and spiritual strategies to restore natural and social connections. According to tribal leaders, food is the common language for social change: sovereignty:
“In this unstable, post-modern world, our food can be one vehicle through which we reassemble our fragmented identities, reestablish community and become native not only to a place but to each other.”
“To begin the global task to which we are called, we need some particular place to begin, some particular place to stand, some particular place in which to initiate the small, reformist changes that we can all hope to continue to transform our world for the benefit of us all…We start with food.”
Tsyunhehkwa is pronounced joon-hey-qwa, translated as “Life Sustenance”
Did you know?
- White corn has 17% more protein, compared to 4-5% protein in standard yellow corn.
- Grass-fed buffalo meat is higher in protein in beef and lower in calories, fat, and cholesterol than fish or chicken.