Corn, wildrice, blueberries, hazelnuts.

MN Impact: First Conference of Native American Nutrition Attracts Hundreds

June 30, 2017

Issue

Extreme poverty and the loss of traditional foods have caused many Native Americans to suffer from poor or inadequate diets. This has led to increased obesity, diabetes, and other profound health problems on a large scale.

What has been done

Important work to solve the problems of Indian nutrition is already being done by many tribes, nonprofits, public health experts, researchers, and advocates on a localized basis. But much more work remains to be done to raise awareness, spread knowledge, create capacity for change, and develop additional solutions. Seeds of Native Health is a multifaceted national campaign to improve Native American nutrition and is supported by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. The University is a strategic partner in the campaign and received a one million dollar gift to convene annual conferences on Native American nutrition and food access; create a public, comprehensive repository of best practices and national experts in the field; and analyze the obstacles between Western academic research and Native American traditional knowledge relating to food and nutrition.

Results

In September 2016, 456 participants attended the first Annual Conference of Native American Nutrition in Prior Lake, MN. Attendees were about half native and half-non-native and represented 33 states, two Canadian provinces, and three other countries. The conference provided an opportunity to share academic and indigenous wisdom in one location and help establish best practices to utilize in the future. Feedback from participants will inform future conferences and influence the ongoing efforts within the Seeds of Native Health Campaign.