Reviving Traditional Agricultural Techniques on Reservations Today


Nambe Pueblo Community Farm, Vineyard, and Buffalo Program

Native Tribes through generations have valued the significant benefits of whole, unprocessed foods. As a result of colonization, food and diet have become a primary source of monetary compensation for major corporations in America, by choosing to produce the cheaper, unhealthier option, and make those options more accessible to poorer communities, it encourages the unhealthy relationships to food many Americans, and Native Americans, are faced with. Traditional food for Native Americans is not just food, but a source of medicine. Consuming foods straight from the Earth, and expressing gratitude for its gifts, allow a person to form a closer bond with nature and thus exist harmoniously with the environment. 

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Economically built greenhouse

Throughout history, Native American tribes have used fire as a tool to assist in spiritual practices, and traditional food accessibility. Upon colonization however, these useful techniques in managing agriculture and the environment have been continuously suppressed by slues of policies that not only push Indigenous people farther from their cultural identity, but puts the environment as a whole at risk. Techniques like controlled burns allow for proper removal of brush that, during wildfire season, is most at risk for catching flames. Without removal of the dry, dead brush the risks skyrocket and lead to the horrific wildfires we see across California today.

Environmentalism has been a part of different cultures and communities around the world. Every year new techniques have been developed to help produce massive amounts of crop yields. Throughout history as new techniques are being developed the Native Tribes across America have represented these techniques in their own unique ways to help cultivate and promote sustainability. Agriculture is a major factor when understanding environmentalism for Native Americans. Complex housing systems like longhouses were built in rotation with the seasons. Many different techniques provided for large gatherings of communities or produced enough crop yield to sustain a small community. The environment has always been an efficient source of nutrients and offered sustainability for Native Americans. In today's era the tribes in America are faced with adversity within their communities to help rebuild their agricultural roots. With the development over time we can see how Native Americans created new techniques to help sustain their communities and how those techniques have changed over time to help rebuild their communities.

The techniques and tools that Native tribes such as the Sarayacu Kichua used bowls and other tools that helped produce and store large amounts of common crops, such as squash,beans, and corn. Items like a mixing bowl or a grinding bowl were commonly used to help combine mixtures or grind crops to an edible state. Bowls are commonly found within the households of tribe members. Mixing bowls can also be used in ceremonial rituals and other religious activities. While bowls are common in the household they also offer devotion to the environment through works of art displayed on pottery and other items. Bowls have been used for centuries and are still used to represent art and other environmental aspects.On this bowl also known as a mukawa there is an anteater which pays homage to the environment that surrounds them.

Reviving Traditional Agricultural Techniques on Reservations Today