All across the United States, traditional agricultural and farming practices are gaining popularity as both Native and non-Native communities show desire to live and eat in a more sustainable manner.
“These are not new ideas of living sustainably or in harmony or farming ecologically,” says Andrea Carter, a member of the Powhatan Renape Nation who works for Native Seeds/SEARCH, a non-profit focused on conserving the Indigenous crop diversity of the arid Southwest. “This is a return or continuation of what Native people have always been doing.”
According to the federal Agriculture Department’s annual census, from 2007 to 2017, the number of Native American farm operators grew considerably in many states. In Arizona, it went from 8,436 to 11,729. As for Oklahoma, that number jumped from 7,054 to 9,858. Those numbers coincide with the growing interest in traditional Indigenous farming and food gathering. “People are reclaiming that sense of being involved in their food system,” explains Liz Carlisle, professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara.