NCGrowth is excited to announce new work at the cross-section of economic development and tribal food sovereignty. Christina Theodorou, who manages NCGrowth’s anchor institution program, has forged a collaboration with award-winning Alaskan Chef Robert Kinneen, a long-time advocate for indigenous rights. Kinneen is the Outreach Director of North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NĀTIFS, which was founded by another renowned Native Chef, Sean Sherman. Sherman is known globally as The Sioux Chef.
NĀTIFS was established to address the economic and health crises affecting Native communities by re-establishing Native foodways and building place-based food sovereignty capacity.
The two organizations first collaborated this June, identifying indigenous food foragers and chefs in North Carolina for NĀTIFS with the USDA’s Indigenous Food Sovereignty Initiative. NĀTIFS mission with the initiative is to use local tribal members that forage and prepare foods for a living to create nourishing and balanced Indigenous recipes using foraged foods sourced from local tribal communities along with ingredients available to qualifying tribal members from the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). Indigenous community members are videoed foraging and preparing the recipes to be featured on the USDA’s FDPIR website. Kinneen and Theodorou recruited three NCGrowth clients and partners that were featured as regional indigenous food businesses that worked with traditional foraged food sources and foodways: Connie Locklear with New Ground Farm; Pat Dial with BBK Catering; and Ray Scott with Ray Ray’s Hog Pit BBQ. All three are members of the Lumbee Tribe. Check out the video.
Chef Kinneen and Chef Sherman believe this collaboration enhances the variety of culturally appropriate foods available to tribal communities while establishing tribal food sovereignty in the US and NCGrowth agrees these efforts support helping communities prosper. NCGrowth hopes to support NĀTIFS via:
• Data collection and analysis to better understand the potential markets for NĀTIFS work
• Strategic planning to expand Indigenous food labs, starting in the southeastern U.S.
• Helping NATIFS to develop viable partnerships and networks, expand collaborative events, and identify funding opportunities