(Ashland, Ore.) — Southern Oregon University, tribal partners and others have received a $30,154 grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust to continue the work of the Indigenous Gardens Network – a hub for Indigenous-led land projects centering on food sovereignty, land stewardship, educational opportunities and habitat restoration.
The purpose of the Indigenous Gardens Network is to provide accessibility to land and “first foods” for tribal communities. First foods are plant and animal species that Native Americans traditionally relied upon for subsistence, medicine and ceremonial uses. The network consists of a tribal steering committee and working groups with citizens of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Their Indigenous knowledge and expertise of cultivation, harvesting and stewardship inform and direct each project that the network takes on.
Projects from the past year included listening sessions on barriers to land accessibility for tribal people, planning meetings, site visits, the creation of working groups, an online Acorn Camp, a First Food Stewardship planning project at Vesper Meadow, development of a Shasta/Takelma Learning Garden at SOU and the purchase of acorn processing equipment and camas restoration tools.
“The Oregon Cultural Trust grant will enable the continuation of projects and initiatives that uplift Indigenous food sovereignty and kinship practices, and that center ceremony, Indigenous storytelling and creativity,” said Joe Scott (Siletz), IGN member and curriculum director for the Traditional Ecological Inquiry Program. “These projects also confront threats to the larger community by supporting traditional tending practices that reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, mitigate the impacts of climate change and help provide clean water.”
“Ever since our people were marched from the Rogue Valley at the end of the Rogue River Wars to the Siletz Reservation in 1856 and 1857, our people have suffered from loss of close connection to those homelands, the comfort, foods and sense of belonging that they provided our people for millennia,“ said Robert Kentta (Shasta & Dakubetede ancestry), cultural resources director and Tribal Council member for the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.
“We very much appreciate the IGN Partnership with SOU and the Grand Ronde Tribe, and the incredible support from land managing agencies, and NGOs, and the funders like Oregon Cultural Trust, who make this re-connection and cultural restoration possible,” Kentta said.
“We are grateful for the continued support of the Oregon Cultural Trust for the collaborative work between the Siletz and Grand Ronde tribes and our many partners, including SOU, Vesper Meadows, BLM and so many others,” said Greg Archuleta (Clackamas Chinook, Santiam Kalapuya, Shasta ancestry), artist and educator, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. “The funding support will enable our Tribal members to connect to and help restore our ancestral lands for access to traditional first foods and important cultural sites.”
The Indigenous Gardens Network is also supported through the SOU Foundation. Those wishing to contribute to this work can make a donation through the SOU Foundation or contact Brook Colley (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information about the Indigenous Gardens Network. Information on donating to the Oregon Cultural Trust is available on the organization’s website.