The Native American studies department is currently hosting a fundraiser to raise money for the construction of a new lab space. The monthlong fundraiser will include a telethon, a silent auction, a currently ongoing film series, and more. The lab will be part of the BSS building, and contain workspaces for the cultivation and preparation of indigenous natural resources including food, and will provide hands-on experience for students to learn about these resources while engaging with and supporting students and local communities.
The fundraiser hopes to raise $25,000, which will fund the construction of the lab space itself in the fall but the lab is largely tasked with paying for it themselves. To do so along with the fundraising site at justgiving.com/campaign/NASFoodLab, and the film series that’s going to be showing a movie the first Friday of each month till May, they are going to be running a telethon on Mar 19. starting that Friday and running through the weekend. According to Cody Henrikson, one of the students working to get the project off the ground, the telethon will include music, speakers, a silent auction, and more.
“There’s going to be stand up, art demonstrations, all sorts of cool stuff going on,” Henrikson said.
The Food Sovereignty lab and cultural workspace began as a class project in the Native American studies department, hoping to create something that will continue to benefit students in upcoming semesters and create a space for the research of indigenous food and cultural resources. After winning second place at the CSU research competition for graduate behavioral sciences, the project became an idea for a central space for the nine local tribes to help generate knowledge about Indigenous natural resources and how they can be utilized for the betterment of the community. Because the topic is so far-reaching, many different classes around campus will get to all utilize this space.
According to Amanda McDonald, research assistant for the Native American studies department and one of the people involved in the lab’s conception, it was the product of asking native students, staff, and faculty what kind of things would be beneficial
“We asked what do we want to do that will have lasting impacts for the community, be something that future students can use,” McDonald said. “And we thought let’s ask our Native staff and faculty what they think should be on campus. We asked students in ITEPP and Intercept and Native Americans studies majors what can bring more healing and vibrancy to the modern existence of Indigenous people.”
Once the lab is constructed, the hope is that it will be used for projects in conjunction with local tribes, specifically anything that involves the cultivation and use of Indigenous natural resources and the continued sustainability of those natural resources. This includes not just food practices but things like creating regalia that is vital to native cultural practices, and the production and storage of things like basketry. Indigenous food and resource practices are complex and have a very important place for Indigenous cultures, and require delicate ecological management. According to Assistant Professor Kaitlin Reed, these food resources were targeted by settlers along with Indigenous people themselves, making their preservation all the more important for both indigenous cultures and ecological issues at large.
“When settlers invaded California, they attempted to not only kill and remove Native peoples,” Reed said. “They also supplanted ecological management which dramatically reduced food production that Indigenous peoples were dependent upon.”