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The Make Meaning Podcast

Apr 15, 2022

The colonizing of America separated Indigenous people from their nourishing “first foods,” plant and animal species that native communities relied upon for subsistence, ceremony and medicine. More than a decade ago, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), Michigan Technological University (MTU), and the Western UP Planning and Development Region came together to create a space that celebrated and preserved the knowledge and cultural identity of tribal people living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. From this collaboration came the Debweyendan Indigenous Garden (DIGs), a place to grow foods and medicines and drive the community toward food sovereignty.

In the latest episode of the Make Meaning Podcast, host Lynne Golodner interviews two important DIGs contributors:  Valoree Gagnon, Assistant Professor in the College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science at Michigan Tech and Director for University-Indigenous Community Partnerships at the Great Lakes Research Center; and Karena Schmidt, an ecologist with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Natural Resources Department.

In this episode, Lynne, Val, and Karena discuss: 

  • The creation & growth of DIGs
  • How to define native foods 
  • The importance of food sovereignty 
  • The native communities of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula 
  • How to be an ally to Native Americans
  • Loving the land you come from
  • Finding the foods native to your community
  • Your role in achieving food sovereignty

Links and Resources: 

History of First Foods 
Diabetes & the Native American Diet 
Remote Indigenous Gardens Network 
Debweyendan Indigenous Garden
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community 
KBIC Natural Resources Department 
Michigan Technological University (MTU)
Western UP Planning and Development Region
Great Lakes Research Center 
University of Arizona 
The Seed Keeper
Elizabeth Hoover, Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the United States 
Robin Wall Kimmerer 
Pow Wow
Michigan Tribes 
Keweenaw Peninsula 
Dr. Martin Reinhardt 
Sean Sherman - the Sioux Chief