Virtual Food Sovereignty Symposium Examines Decolonization of Food Systems – The North Wind
The Food Sovereignty Symposium is an event organized to educate people about the process of decolonizing food systems and reestablishing an intimate relationship with plants, animals and others.
Martin Reinhardt, professor of Native American studies, organized the Symposium on Food Sovereignty in the Upper Peninsula.
âI was really impressed with the people coming together and sharing their knowledge about Indigenous food, food sovereignty and research,â said Reinhardt.
Dan Cornelius, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a member of the Intertribal Agricultural Council, invited Reinhardt to be a keynote speaker at other previous symposia he helped organize.
Previous food symposia Reinhardt attended included cooking demonstrations, presentations, and entertainment, and he thought, “We have to do it, we have to take it home.”
Reinhardt began planning for the event in Marquette, but COVID then postponed the symposium until this year, where it was scheduled to be held both in person and online.
A virtual sample of the Food Sovereignty Symposium took place on Zoom on September 20-21.
The sample consisted of a variety of presentations and content from previous seminars regarding agriculture from an Indigenous perspective.
âBut then COVID was still a problemâ¦ and we decided that the most responsible thing to do would be to wait and see what happens by next May,â Reinhardt said.
The Food Sovereignty Symposium Virtual Sampler has always been held to give people a taste of what the actual event will look like – which will tentatively take place May 21-23, 2022.
âHe was really well received. I think people have a good idea of ââwhat’s going to happen, âsaid Reinhardt.
Some of the issues addressed during the sampling included the dissociation of society from agricultural processes and the lack of establishing health at its highest value.
âThe key is to get people to think critically about these issues and to establish communication networks, bringing together consumers or producers,â Reinhardt said.
The event aims to provide assistance to those who do not have the skills, background or expertise in indigenous food systems, but who wish to implement more sustainable practices.
The Sampler Symposium was free and accessible to anyone to register and attend, but students can find similar training at the Center for Native American Studies.
The Center for Native American Studies specializes in understanding Indigenous and non-Indigenous relationships, particularly in UP. It also raises awareness of Indigenous identity and provides knowledge to better interact with the environment.
âIf you’re going to live in a place, you have to really understand your relationship with that placeâ¦ The only way to be fully human is to understand your relationship with the world around you,â Reinhardt said.
Reinhardt said Indigenous studies provide valuable content for students, such as decolonization methodologies, the history of non-Indigenous Indigenous relations, and examining the future through an Indigenous lens.
Approaching sustainability begins with embracing more Indigenous practices and mindsets.
âWe are in a colonial state and the food systems are all based on that. They are oppressive systems, âReinhardt said.
Reinhardt encourages students to take Native American studies courses to move towards a more sustainable future.
âThe natives have long been in a minority situation because of colonizationâ¦ So when we talk about revitalizing these food systems, it is an act of decolonization. It’s an act of overcoming oppression, âReinhardt said.
The In-Person Food Sovereignty Symposium scheduled to take place in late May will offer in-person and virtual presentations on Indigenous Studies similar to those at the Center for Native American Studies.