The Seed Sovereignty Sisters
Native Seed Pod host Melissa Nelson and producer Sara Moncada catch up with seed sisters Kaylena Bray, Mariaelena Huambachano, and Elizabeth Hoover at the 2018 Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) Annual Conference in Los Angeles. In the quiet corner of an urban hotel, after their panel presentation Seed Sovereignty Stories from North American, Latin America and Oceania we sat together and discussed how seeds cross cultures and continents, creating networks of physical and spiritual resilience and are at the forefront of environmental justice, food security and biodiversity.
Kaylena Bray (Haudenosaunee/Seneca) has worked for many years as a consultant to several Indigenous-led, social entrepreneurship organizations in the U.S. and Latin America, including the Indigenous Peoples Biocultural Climate Change Assessment, Conversations with the Earth, and The California Indian Environmental Alliance and served as The Cultural Conservancy’s Native Foodways Coordinator from 2012-2016. Her recent work with The Voices of Maiz: Exploring Seeds, Knowledge, and Relationship network was recently featured at the UN International Forum in New York and her work in strengthening the role of traditional ecological knowledge on climate change mitigation and agricultural food systems continues to build internationally. She received her MSc in Environmental Change Management at the University of Oxford, England.
Mariaelena Huambachano (Quechua) is an interdisciplinary Indigenous scholar originally from Peru and a citizen of New Zealand. She is currently a Presidential Postdoctoral fellow in American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown University, where she works on the intersections of Indigenous studies, public policy, environmental and sustainable development. Her manuscript entitled “Global Indigeneity, Activism and Resistance in Food Politics” provides a critical analysis of the politics of food as social identity and highlights indigenous food sovereignty (IFS) as a nascent political strategy to assert indigenous peoples’ self-determination status as land-based peoples, and to ultimately decolonize their food systems. She is also working on an international community-engaged project entitled the ‘Right to Food Security/Sovereignty’ at Brown University which is an international research collaboration with the Māori, Quechua, Cofan (Amazonian of Ecuador) and Anishinaabek of North America.
Elizabeth Hoover (Mohawk) is Assistant Professor of American Studies at Brown University, where she teaches courses on environmental health and justice in Native communities, indigenous food movements, and community engaged research. She serves as a co-leader for the Community Engagement Core of Brown’s Superfund Research Program, working with community organizations on environmental health, justice and education issues. She recently published a book titled The River Is in Us: Fighting Toxics in a Mohawk Community, which takes readers into one indigenous community’s fight against the contamination of its lands and reclamation of its health and culture. In 2014, Hoover embarked on a 20,000 mile drive around the country, documenting 40 indigenous food projects to promote access to sufficient, healthy, sustainable food by reclaiming traditional diets. Hoover is a gardener, beadworker, fancyshawl dancer, a member of the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance (NAFSA), and the Slow Food Turtle Island Association. Find out more on her blog, Garden Warriors Good Seeds. Click here for her full CV.
Let’s Take Back Control: Sovereignty is Not an Illusion! - Knowledge in Indigenous Networks blog by Mariaelena Huambachano, July 2017
Dr. Elizabeth Hoover — Food Sovereignty - Toasted Sister Podcast, January 2017
Revitalizing Native Foodways – by Kaylena Bray and Melissa Nelson, Earth Island Journal, Autumn 2015
Native Chef’s Mentioned:
Host/Writer/Director: Melissa K. Nelson
Producer: Sara Moncada
Co-producer: Mateo Hinojosa
Audio Editor and Engineer: Colin Farish
Recording Assistant: Alejandra Cano
Assistants: Luke Reppe, Meleah Mannix
Songs (in order of appearance):
Opening theme song: “Life” by Colin Farish featuring Airto Moreira on seed pods and Glen Velez on Irish Bodran frame drum
Eagle Dance song, sung by Eddie Madril
Chumash Moon Song, sung by Ayapish Slow
Original Flute song by Tito LaRosa from Songscapes of Native America
Original song in Tongva language by L. Frank