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    Program ID - bo080305

    Native Traditions, Food and Culture

    From tribal salmon fishermen in the Pacific Northwest, to reintroducing traditional tepary beans in the Southwest, Native American communities are pioneering the interconnection between food, heritage and sustainable economies.

    The Tohono O'odham Nation, for example, sits in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, sixty miles west of Tucson, Arizona. Terrol Dew Johnson and his colleagues at Community Action are reviving traditional foods and farming as the first step in re-establishing a community wide self-sustaining food system for his people - including the cultivation of 100 acres of tepary beans both for their own use and for sale to a growing number of southwestern chefs who feature native dishes on their menus.

    Join host Jerry Kay, publisher of the Environmental News Network, as we discuss efforts to reconnect tradition, agriculture and food.

    This Week's Guests:

    Terrol Dew Johnson — Co-Director, Tohono O'odham Community Action

    Tohono O'odham Community Actionís Food System project is dedicated to the creation of a sustainable food system within the Tohono O'odham community. The Community Food System got started when Terrolís family donated eight acres to growing tepary beans. It was the first step in an effort to re-introduce a community to a historical food staple that counters diabetes and provide a model for a sustainable food system for the nation. Tepary beans are now grown on over 100 acres within the reservation and along with other traditional produce are supplied to community members, the reservation hospital and sold to Southwestern chefs who want to feature traditional Native American fare in their restaurants. Terrol is also recognized as one of the top Native American basket weavers in the country.

    Kahseuss Jackson — Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission/Indian Salmon Harvest

    As a member of the Warm Springs Tribe and a business specialist with Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (CRITFC), Kahseuss helps tribal fisherman direct market their salmon harvest. The Columbia River is the only place in the Northwest where the general public can share in an historical Indian salmon harvest. Tribal fishers can be seen fishing from small boats and from scaffolds with long handled dip nets, as their ancestors did centuries ago. During the spring, summer, and fall, the public can purchase premium chinook, coho, steelhead, sockeye, walleye, carp and shad over-the-bank. Over-the-bank sales help tribal fishers support their families and make it possible for them to continue their traditional livelihood. CRITFC manages Indian Salmon Harvest and is the coordinating agency for fishery management for the four Columbia River treaty tribes. These tribes include: The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, and the Nez Perce Tribe.

    Kevin Dahl — Executive Director, Native Seeds/SEARCH

    Kevin has served as executive director for Native Seeds/SEARCH since February 2003, and also worked for the organization in various roles, including education director, from 1986 to 1997. An alumni of both the University of Arizona and Arizona State University (where he was student body vice president), his interest in plants led him to obtain his degree in ethnobotany from Prescott College. Author of Wild Plants of the Sonoran Desert, published by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, he is working on a book tentatively titled Authentic Southwestern Gardening. A 21-year-old nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Native Seeds/SEARCH works to conserve, distribute and document the adapted and diverse varieties of agricultural seed, their wild relatives and the role these seeds play in cultures of the American Southwestern and northwest Mexico. Most of the collection consists of varieties of indigenous crops developed over centuries to suit the needs of their human partners.

    More information:

  • TOCA's Tohono O'odham Community Food System
  • Indian Salmon Harvest
  • Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission
  • Article: Fighting Diabetes & Obesity with Native Foods
  • Article: Trade show spotlights American Indian food
  • NPR Story: Ricing Time - Harvesting on the Lakes of White Earth
  • Native American Food Guide Pyramid
  • Terrol Dew Johnsonís Homepage

  • Resources for Journalists:

    Journalists who are interested in researching stories related to any Beyond Organic show topic are encouraged to contact Straus Communication for additional resources, including trend data, background materials, experts, statistics, images and more. The service is free.

    Please contact Michael Straus at 415-777-1170 x 302 or email for more information.



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