Understanding Through Listening: Connecting with Indigenous Foodways in Montana

May 7, 2024 | Grow & Tell - Stories

Grow Montana, National Center for Appropriate Technology, and Montana Cooperative Development Center are excited to share about a new project...

Grow Montana, National Center for Appropriate Technology, and Montana Cooperative Development Center are excited to share about a new project called, “Understanding through Listening: Connecting with Indigenous Foodways in Montana”.

The goals of this project are to:

·        Understand what food sovereignty and policy issues tribal communities are working on.

·        Learn how Grow Montana can build and strengthen trust and relationships with tribal communities and their food sovereignty efforts and assist and engage in advocacy related to these efforts.

·        Learn if Montana Native Communities are interested in using the Montana Harvest of the Month program to showcase Indigenous foods, culture, history, and knowledge, and determine how to best structure the program.

Understanding through Listening: Connecting with Indigenous Foodways in Montana is led by a core team with additional input and guidance by a steering committee. Cheyenne Robinson of Montana Cooperative Development Center (MCDC) and Maura Henn and Molly Kirkham of National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) make up the core team of project leaders.

Cheyenne is a member of the Apsáalooke (Crow) Tribe. She also is a descendant of the Northern Cheyenne, Pyramid Lake, and Walker River Paiute Tribes. Currently, Cheyenne works with the Montana Cooperative Development Center as the Native Food Sovereignty Project Coordinator. Her work will reach all eight (8) tribes in the state of Montana as well as Urban Indians throughout the state. Education is of the utmost importance to Cheyenne. Therefore, she is currently furthering her degree as she works with Indian Country in Montana. Cheyenne is dedicated to helping create a healthier, safer, and an economically sustained Native Community for future generations to inherit.

Molly has worked as a Local Foods Specialist at NCAT for just about two years. She co-coordinates Montana Harvest of the Month program and works on various farm to cafeteria initiatives. Molly is looking forward to learning more about Indigenous foods and making new connections across the state.

Maura has been coordinating Grow Montana since 2019 through her work at NCAT as a Local Foods Systems Specialist at NCAT. Her work also focuses on strengthening food access and farmers markets in the state through intersecting programs like SNAP & Double SNAP Dollars. Maura is so excited to be part of this project and knows that it will be invaluable to helping Grow Montana in developing our capacity of equity and inclusiveness.

They are currently developing a facilitator guide that will be used to conduct listening sessions in Montana tribal communities, as well as interviews with tribal members and Indigenous foods stakeholders. Listening sessions will be community based. Some sessions will be led by Cheyenne, while others will be led by community members trained on the facilitator guide. They will be conducting interviews with organizations, producers, teachers, local government, food service professionals, and other food systems stakeholders. Virtual and phone options will be available for both listening sessions and interviews. They hope to see interviews begin in February!

They are using this form to collect information from folks who are interested in being contacted for an interview or alerted to community listening sessions. We encourage you to pass the form along to anyone you think may be interested.

Further questions contact: Maura Henn, [email protected] | Molly Kirkham, [email protected] |Cheyenne Robinson, [email protected]

Grow Montana is the statewide coalition that works on food policy and related issues at the state legislature, as well as advocates for food access programs, farmers markets, and small & mid-scale producers. Formed in 2005, the coalition has mostly focused on Montana-based priorities. Learn more about Grow Montana and the work they do by visiting their website.

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