In a series of videos produced for the Climate Solutions Exhibition at the Wild Center, members of the Kanienʼkehá:ka (Mohawk) community of Ahkwesáhsne (also known as Akwesasne) discuss the importance of food sovereignty, and how Indigenous agricultural practices are a vital climate solution.
Ahkwesáhsne is an Indigenous nation that straddles the Kaniatarowanénhne (St. Lawrence or Great River). In addition to being divided by the settler colonial Canadian-USA border, the Kanienʼkehá:ka of Ahkwesáhsne have suffered the disastrous consequences provoked by the damming and industrial exploitation of Kaniatarowanénhne. Through massive remediation efforts, Ahkwesáhsne is cleaning the river of industrial contaminants, and striving to, one again, become a food sovereign nation.
The videos spotlighted the artist, filmmaker and community educator, Katistionni Fox, the owner of Snipe Clan Botanicals, Sateiokwen Bucktooth, and the agriculturalists, Wally Ramsom.
A Food Sovereign Nation
This video features Wally Ransom, the director of the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe's Agriculture Program. Wally discusses how and why the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe (SRMT) is endeavoring to become food sovereign.
Over the last centuries, colonialist land practices and industrial contamination have drastically transformed the Ahkwesáhsne diet and way of life. After companies such as ALCOA, GM, and Monsanto poisoned Ahkwesáhsne’s land and water in the 1950s, the Ahkwesáhsne community has been forced to cease fishing, foraging, and even practicing subsistence agriculture. While the situation has been greatly improved over the last decades, the double storms of the climate crisis and the worldwide COVID 19 pandemic have inspired community members and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Government to secure the food sovereignty of their community for the future generations.
FOOD SOVEREIGNTY AND HEALING
In two of the videos, which can be seen at the Wild Center, Sateiokwen Bucktooth narrates this process of remediation and the how Indigenous food practices played a pivotal role in this process. Sateiokwen, herself completed an apprenticeship through the Akwesasne Cultural Restoration Program (also known as Á:se Tsi Tewá:ton—make it new again), where she specialized in Traditional Medicine and Healing. In the videos at the Wild Center, Sateiokwen describes the importance of reintroducing native medicinal plants to the Ahkwesáhsne Community.
FOOD SOVEREIGNTY IS A CLIMATE SOLUTION
In the remainder of the videos featured at the Wild Center, the visual storyteller, Katsitsionni Fox. Katsitsionni discusses how, in the face of the climate crises, it is vital for the next generation to learn about native food sovereignty practices. These teachings include the "The Three Sisters," the ancestral practice of planting O’nenste (Corn), O’saheta (Beans) and Onon’onhsera (Squash) together in a reciprocal botanical community.
According the Katsitsionni, teaching youth about food sovereignty is a climate solution.
If you want to see the videos of Sateiokwen and Katsitsionni, you can visit the Wild Center, Tupper Lake, NY (Haudenosaunee Territory), and make sure to stop by the Climate Solutions Exhibition.
This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The views, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these videos do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.