SPOTLIGHT: Indigenous Peoples’ Day

SPOTLIGHT: Indigenous Peoples’ Day


My people are agriculturalists and have been agriculturalists and been planting corn since time immemorial.

Vena A’dae Romero-Briones
Indigenous Agricultural Models

On the second Monday of October, we recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Many people are taught the story of Christopher Columbus “sailing the ocean blue in 1492” and discovering the “New World.” While it made for a catchy rhyme, this story erases the land’s true history – that indigenous people lived, farmed, and were stewards of this land for many thousands of years before Europeans arrived.

It is also true that the European colonization of this land caused devastation to Native communities through conquest, enslavement, and disease. The effects of this persist today, with communities of American Indians and Alaska Natives experiencing “lower life expectancy and disproportionate disease burden,” according to Dr. Linda Frizzell, “perhaps because of limited educational opportunities, disproportionate poverty, discrimination in the delivery of health services, and cultural differences.”

Dr. Linda Frizzell

Dr. Linda Frizzell is an Associate Professor in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She has extensive experience and practice as a provider and administrator with American Indian health systems.

Her endeavors have included a broad range of professional preparations both in medicine and education, all dedicated to the improvement of quality of life across the life span and health and wellness equity. In recognition of her work as a lifelong advocate for the health and wellbeing of Indigenous populations, she was recently awarded the Outstanding Health Equity Impact Award from the School of Public Health.

Despite facing historical and ongoing atrocities, Native Americans continue to live, farm, and be stewards of the land on which we live. Throughout history, Indigenous people have contributed endless wisdom to agriculture. Now, as we experience the effects of climate change on a massive scale, many are returning to Native farming approaches.

We’re seeing it in the wider culture as well. A lot of young people, [Native and] non-Native alike, are getting into farming and a desire to live more sustainably…these are not new ideas of living sustainably or in harmony or farming ecologically. This is a return or continuation of what Native people have always been doing.

Andrea Carter
Native Seeds/SEARCH


In honor of Indigenous Peoples Day, we at UMASH recognize the reality of the injustices experienced by Native Americans, celebrate the resilience of all Indigenous communities, and commit to elevating and supporting the health and safety of Native farmers and their families.



Native Land

UMASH serves the Upper Midwest region of the United States, which encompasses the traditional homelands of many Indigenous peoples. We use this app to acknowledge the Indigenous territories, treaties, and languages that exist across the land that we live, farm, and visit. Ultimately, this acknowledgment provides the foundation for providing more meaningful support for Indigenous agricultural community members.


Be a Myth Buster - Illuminative

Remedy common misconceptions about Native communities and culture with this quick guide from Illuminative.


Seed Mother: Coming Home - Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance

“Across Turtle Island, there is a growing intergenerational movement of Indigenous people proud to carry the message of the grand rematriation of seeds and foods back into our Indigenous communities…Seed Mother: Coming Home is a collaborative short film sharing the powerful essence of the Seed Rematriation movement’s healing work of cross-cultural reconciliation to bring these seeds home to their communities of origin”


Elder Voices: Wisdom about Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems from the Holders of Knowledge - Hope Flanagan, Linda B Frizzell, Norma Kassi, Leon Nuvayestewa, Sr, Beverly S Warne, and Mindy S Kurzer

Read “the stories of 5 Native American and First Nation elders, in which they share their wisdom, experience, and opinions on Indigenous food systems and health.”