Digging in: Supporting a healthy, sustainable food future in Santee Sioux Nation

This report documents the current state of the food system on the Santee Sioux Reservation in Nebraska and identifies strategies and areas of consideration to enable the Santee Sioux people and their neighbors to move toward realizing self-reliance of their food system.

In November 2015, in partnership with the Santee Sioux community, the Center for Rural Affairs began researching the food system of the Santee Sioux Reservation. This involved primary research, including meeting with Santee Sioux knowledge holders and community-based data collection. The report also incorporates existing research relating to the Santee Sioux people, their health, economics, culture, and food system to provide context for the primary research results.

The major goals of the Santee Sioux Food Sovereignty Initiative were to:

  1. Develop and document a broad understanding of the current Santee Sioux food system;
  2. Build a community-wide understanding of the impacts of this food system on the community; and
  3. Identify strategies and areas of consideration to enable the Santee Sioux people and their neighbors to create a food sovereignty plan that will move the community toward realizing self-reliance of their food system.

The data collected from the Santee Sioux Food Sovereignty Initiative reveals several key findings about the Santee Sioux Nation food system and how Santee community members want it to function.

The Santee Sioux community is poised to take the next steps toward food sovereignty. By asserting a desire to rebuild a sovereign food system, the Santee Sioux Nation can create a healthier community, revitalize traditional foods, create a self-sufficient food system, and develop a more resilient Nation.

We hope this report serves as a resource to start conversations about the Santee Sioux food system and brings the community together to understand its needs, envision a better food future, and lay the foundation for realizing that future.