LINKS
2016-12-01 / Headlines

Sicangu Nation Exercise Food Sovereignty

BY BRANDON ECOFFEY
LCT EDITOR

MISSION— Shoppers across the Sicangu Nation will now have a little help in choosing healthy foods at the supermarket.

Earlier this month shoppers at the tribally owned Turtle Creek Crossing Super Foods in Mission, South Dakota began purchasing products equipped with a locally designed label on selected food products in the store. The “Food is Good Medicine” label is designed to make it easier for local residents to access and choose healthy foods.

“Our hope is that such a culturally significant label will be recognizable and meaningful for the local community in a way that encourages better eating and better health for tribal members of all ages,” said Wizipan Little Elk, CEO of REDCO. “We are especially grateful to Turtle Creek Crossing Super Foods management and staff for their partnership and support of this project. They quickly embraced our vision that, side-by-side with being a business, this store also can be a source of vital information for our community.”

The labeling project is part of REDCO’s Food Sovereignty Initiative aimed at increasing healthier, sustainable agriculture in order to help the Sicangu Lakota Oyate become fully self-sufficient as a tribal nation. The label features an image of an adult buffalo with a young calf and the message “Food Is Good Medicine” in both English and Lakota.

According to REDCO the purpose of the label is to help educate shoppers about foods that support better health. It was created as part of the larger “Healthy Food, Healthy Choice” project funded by the Rural Futures Institute at the University of Nebraska, a collaboration between REDCO’s Community Food Sovereignty Initiative, Sinte Gleska University, SDSU and the Rosebud SDSU Extension Office, Turtle Creek Crossing Super Foods, and the University of Nebraska- Lincoln. Several special events are planned over the coming months to promote and celebrate the launch of the labels in the store.

Several possible label designs were created by SGU Art Department faculty member Ned Day with input from Tina Martinez of the Lakota Studies Department and then offered to the community for feedback. SGU students and Turtle Creek Crossing shoppers helped guide the final design selection that is now on local food shelves.

Assistant Professor Christopher Gustafson from the UNL Department of Agricultural Economics underscores the potential implications of a project like this: “This labeling system is unique in that it does more than just highlight healthy food options. Through the involvement of the community in the development of the label, it reinforces community values and priorities about healthy choices.”

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at editor@lakotacountrytimes.com)

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