We Have Just Begun!

The second day of this year’s Food Sovereignty Symposium was every bit as engaging as the first.  Speakers from Mvskoke country and beyond continued our conversation about tribal survival in the modern world.

The founder of the California-based Indigenous Permaculture Program described their work of developing sustainable communities, from Central America to the Northern Plains, using traditional teachings about farming and technology.

The program director of the Traditional Native American Farmers Association presented his approach to organic agriculture in the desert Southwest.

Two leaders of the Pawnee Seeds Project, a last-ditch effort sponsored by the Oklahoma tribe’s Culture Committee, reported on their success at raising heirloom varieties on ancestral lands in present-day Nebraska.

An Arapaho rancher recounted his many years in the livestock industry and detailed the many advantages of grass-fed buffalo and cattle.

Two members of the Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers Association spoke about the benefits of buying food that is locally grown and produced.

Representatives from the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service and the Oklahoma Agricultural Mediation Program explained the free assistance available to anyone involved in farming or ranching.

The owners of Three Springs Farm, a small-scale operation in Cherokee County, discussed their effort to raise vegetables in a way that is both environmentally responsible and commercially viable.

More than 250 people participated in the symposium this year, according to the Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative.  Attendance was considerably better than last year’s inaugural event, a sign of growing environmental awareness in Mvskoke country.

The younger participants spent most of each day in a separate youth track organized by Adam Recvlohe and Chako Ciocco, who hoped to “bridge the gap between a broad historical and cultural awareness and the specific needs of our local communities in terms of food sovereignty and revitalizing traditional agriculture.” The youth agenda featured topical workshops as well as outdoor activities:  playing chunkey, throwing atlatls, and practicing traditional archery with Mvskoke Etvlwa Cvkotakse Seccvlke, the Mvskoke Bow Shooters Society.

Toward the end of the second day, the young people returned to the Mound Building with a formal declaration of their concerns and commitments, which they wrote and presented collaboratively.  It was a memorable way to close the second annual Food Sovereignty Symposium; here is their statement in its entirety:


We are unbreakable
We need a chance
We believe in ourselves
We will not forget our ways
We are fearless
We need support from our people
We believe in change
We will not back down in order to succeed
We are the future
We need a voice
We believe we are leaders
We will not crumble
We are not satisfied
We need respect
We believe we will survive
We will not stop until we are satisfied
We are determined
We need commitment
We believe in our culture
We will not lose faith
We are history
We need purpose
We believe that the world is ready
We will not regret
We are the future
We are one!
We have just begun!

These are powerful words, and they deserve an encouraging response from those of us who are not so young.  What can YOU do to help secure the future of the Mvskoke people?

We have just begun!

Muscogee Nation News, April 2010


Food Sovereignty Symposium 2010

Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative

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