Elizabeth Hoover is Associate Professor of American Studies, and teaches courses on environmental health and justice in Native communities, indigenous food movements, Native American museum curation, and community engaged research. Elizabeth received her BA from Williams College, a MA from Brown in Anthropology/Museum Studies, and PhD from Brown in Anthropology, with a focus on environmental and medical Anthropology as it applies to Native American communities responding to environmental contamination. Her first book The River is In Us; Fighting Toxins in a Mohawk Community, (University of Minnesota Press, 2017) is an ethnographic exploration of Akwesasne Mohawks’ response to Superfund contamination and environmental health research. Her second book project From ‘Garden Warriors’ to ‘Good Seeds;’ Indigenizing the Local Food Movement (University of Minnesota Press, forthcoming) explores Native American farming and gardening projects around the country: the successes and challenges faced by these organizations, the ways in which participants define and envision concepts like food sovereignty, and importance of heritage seeds. Elizabeth also co-edited Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the United States: Restoring Cultural Knowledge, Protecting Environments, and Regaining Health (University of Oklahoma Press, 2019) with Devon Mihesuah. Elizabeth has published articles about food sovereignty, environmental reproductive justice in Native American communities, the cultural impact of fish advisories on Native communities, tribal citizen science, and health social movements
|'You can’t say you’re sovereign if you can’t feed yourself:’ Defining and Enacting Food Sovereignty in American Indian Community Gardening. American Indian Culture and Research Journal. 2017; 41 (3) : 31-70.|
The River is In Us: Fighting Toxics in a Mohawk Community.
|“Environmental Reproductive Justice: Intersections in an American Indian Community Impacted by Environmental Contamination.” . Environmental Sociology. 2017;|
|Hoover, Elizabeth “We’re not going to be guinea pigs;” Citizen Science and Environmental Health in a Native American Community” . Journal of science communication. 2016;|
|Hoover, Elizabeth, Renauld, Mia, Edelstein, Michael R., Brown, Phil Social Science Collaboration with Environmental Health. Environ Health Perspect. 2015; 123 (11)|
|Elizabeth Hoover, Mia Renauld, Michael R. Edelstein, and Phil Brown Social Science Collaboration with Environmental Health. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2015; Advance Publication|
|Elizabeth Hoover Cultural and Health Implications of Fish Advisories in a Native American Community. Ecological Processes. 2013; 2 (4)|
|Elizabeth Hoover, Katsi Cook, Ron Plain, Kathy Sanchez, Vi Waghiyi, Pamela Miller, Renee Dufault, Caitlin Sislin, and David O. Carpenter Indigenous Peoples of North America: Environmental Exposures and Reproductive Justice. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2012; 120 (12)|
|Hoover, Elizabeth, Cook, Katsi, Plain, Ron, Sanchez, Kathy, Waghiyi, Vi, Miller, Pamela, Dufault, Renee, Sislin, Caitlin, Carpenter, David O. Indigenous Peoples of North America: Environmental Exposures and Reproductive Justice. Environ Health Perspect. 2012;|
Brown, Phil; Stephen Zavestoski, Sabrina McCormick, Brian Mayer, Rachel Morello-
Frosch, Rebecca Gasior Altman, Crystal Adams, and Elizabeth Hoover
Embodied Health Movements: Uncharted Territory in Social Movement Research.
Brown, Phil; Rachel Morello-Frosch , Stephen Zavestoski, Laura Senier, Rebecca
Altman, Elizabeth Hoover, Sabrina McCormick, Brian Mayer, and Crystal Adams
Field Analysis and Policy Ethnography: New Directions for Studying Health
2010; : 101-116.
Brown,Phil; Rachel Morello-Frosch, Stephen Zavestoski, Laura Senier, Rebecca Altman,
Elizabeth Hoover, Sabrina McCormick, Brian Mayer, and Crystal Adams
Health Social Movements: Advancing Traditional Medical Sociology Concepts.
2010; : 117-138.
|Hoover, Elizabeth, Phil Brown, Mara Averick, Robert Hurt, and Agnes Kane. Teaching Small and Thinking Large: Effects of Including Social and Ethical Implications in an Interdisciplinary Nanotechnology Course.. Journal of Nano Education/Journal of Nano Education. 2009; 1 (1) : 86-95.|
|Hoover, Elizabeth, Brown, Phil, Averick, Mara, Kane, Agnes, Hurt, Robert Teaching Small and Thinking Large: Effects of Including Social and Ethical Implications in an Interdisciplinary Nanotechnology Course. Journal of Nano Education. 2009; 1 (1) : 86-95.|
|Senier, Laura, Hudson, Benjamin, Fort, Sarah, Hoover, Elizabeth, Tillson, Rebecca, Brown, Phil Brown Superfund Basic Research Program: A Multistakeholder Partnership Addresses Real-World Problems in Contaminated Communities. Environmental Science & Technology. 2008; 42 (13) : 4655-4662.|
|Senier, Laura; Benjamin Hudson; Sarah Fort; Elizabeth Hoover; Rebecca Tilson; Phil Brown. The Brown Superfund Basic Research Program: A Multistakeholder Partnership Addresses Real-World Problems in Contaminated Communities. Environmental Science & Technology. 2008; 42 (13) : 4655–4662.|
My first book, "'The River is in Us:' Fighting Toxics in a Mohawk Community," (2017, University of Minnesota Press) examines how industrial sites along the St Lawrence River, and subsequent health studies around these sites, have affected Akwesasne Mohawk people's perceptions of their bodies and the environment. After interviewing community members who served as health study participants, university and tribal scientists, Mohawk field workers, and average residents, I explore the triumphs, tribulations and lessons learned in carrying out a decade-long environmental health project, as well as community ideas for how to better communicate the results of this research. This project also explores diabetes-- the community health condition that currently garners the most attention-- community etiologies for this condition, and its connection to changed lifeways and environments. I end with exploring the ways in which the community's food systems have been disrupted, and current movements to reclaim local food through gardening projects. Tying these themes together is an exploration of the "social body" as a locus for effective health interventions, community based research, subsistence renewal, and environmental education.
My second book project is currently titled "From 'Garden Warriors' to 'Good Seeds': Indigenizing the Local Food Movement."
As a result of settler colonial encounters, loss of land, assimilationist policies, and environmental change, Indigenous communities in the US have experienced dramatic changes to traditional food systems. This has contributed to disproportionate rates of metabolic health conditions; culture and language loss; and ongoing economic impacts. Community-based projects seeking to provide healthy food, and in many cases revive traditional seeds and horticultural practices, have been cropping up in Native American communities to impart food production knowledge, help community members to “decolonize” their diets, and work towards broader goals of food sovereignty. Based on interviews with members of Indigenous community-based farming and gardening projects, seed savers, and Native American chefs, I am writing the first comprehensive multi-site ethnography of the Native American food sovereignty movement.
I became involved in conversations around food sovereignty through volunteering with the Akwesasne Mohawk community-based organization Kanenhi:io Ionkwaienthon:hakie (We Are Planting Good Seeds), a grassroots Indigenous farming group with whom I have been involved since 2007. Curiosity about how other community organizations were conducting this work led me to take part in 25 different Indigenous food sovereignty summits, hosted by tribal nations and community groups around the country. In an effort to learn more, in 2014 I took to the road, driving 20,000 miles around the US to visit 39 of these projects. I conducted 52 formal interviews, and recorded an additional 34 conversations and farm tours. I also attended presentations by, and interviewed, nine Native chefs who are working to promote and elevate Indigenous cuisine, both in their own communities and in commercial settings.
These materials and experiences will all culminate in From “Garden Warriors” to “Good Seeds;” Indigenizing the Local Food Movement, a book that will be completed and under review by early spring 2019. In addition to an introduction and conclusion, the book will have six chapters, focusing on 1) the meanings and uses of the term “food sovereignty” in the context of Native community food projects 2) the types of successes and challenges faced by each of these organizations and the broader Indigenous food movement—including dilemmas about the struggle to “decolonize” one’s diet and organization in the context of US federal food policies and funding; 3) the role of organizations like the First Nations Development Institute and Intertribal Agriculture Council (which work closely with federal agencies), as well as more grassroots organizations like Slow Food Turtle Island and the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance in supporting and growing individual community projects as well as the broader movement; 4) defining what constitutes a “heritage seed” or traditional seeds in each community and how seeds are protected as both relatives and intellectual property through the theorization and enactment of “seed sovereignty;” 5) the role of Native American chefs, who are working to promote and elevate the traditional cuisine of their people through “gastro diplomacy” (seen in contrast to “cultural appropriation” or “culinary appropriation”), in an effort to achieve “culinary justice;” and the delicate balance between making healthy traditional foods available to their community as well as serving a broader “foodie” public. The last chapter 6) will focus on the nexus between protecting and gaining access to traditional foods and the fight against the fossil fuel and extractive industries—highlighting foods like wild rice threatened by proposed mines and pipelines in Minnesota and Wisconsin, traditional corn planted in the path of proposed pipelines in Nebraska and New York, and traditional foods gathered and brought to feed water protectors fighting to defend Standing Rock’s water supply from the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Together, these chapters foreground a broader debate about how to define and enact concepts like sovereignty and tradition. Food sovereignty as a term has been taken up by activists and academics alike, and has become a rallying cry for both grassroots and established tribal programs across Indian Country. This book will enrich the ongoing global conversation around food sovereignty with the voices of Native American farmers and gardeners. The interviews and conversations that form the base of this book center on the importance of food to cultural identity; relationships to the environment, food sources, and other people; and the need for independence to make choices around how to define food systems and what exactly to eat—at a tribal level, a community level and an individual level. Issues of access—to food, land, and information—will be explored, as well as issues around control—over what individuals put in their mouths, what seeds are planted, and how tribes should take back control of their land and food systems from outside influence. In addition, participants raised the importance of education, improving health, and focusing on the youth and future generations. Heritage seeds—most passed down through generations of Indigenous gardeners, some reacquired from seed banks or ally seed savers—were often discussed as the foundation of the movement, living relatives to protect from patent or modification, but also tools for education and reclaiming health. For Native chefs, food sovereignty included a focus on what constitutes Native food and who should serve it. They also focused on “reconnecting the trade routes”—supporting tribal food producers in the economic and educational components of their work. In the context of the fight against extractive industries, food sovereignty has become a rallying cry for another important reason to protect land.
Overall, many of the participants argued that in order for tribes to demonstrate full sovereignty, they need to work towards achieving food sovereignty first—with the caveat that food sovereignty was seen by many not as a final state that could be achieved, but rather characterized as a process, as a method, and as a movement. Food sovereignty is not just a goal in and of itself, but a tool to achieve other aspects of cultural restoration, connected to health and language. This book will explore these issues through the interdisciplinary lenses of Native American and Indigenous studies, food studies, social movements studies, and cultural and environmental anthropology, and will be a useful tool in both classrooms and communities.
You can see the results of some of this research at www.gardenwarriorsgoodseeds.com
My most recent publications, in addition to the book, include an aritcle about community food sovereignty definitions in a forthcoming issue of American Indian Culture and Research Journal focused on food sovereignty; an article about environmental reproductive justice ("Environmental Reproductive Justice: Intersections in an American Indian Community Impacted by Environmental Contamination" http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/rY8qXrhtKufnrJs87tYD/full) and collaborative pieces in Environmental Health Perspectives on the role of social science in environmental health research (“Social Science Collaboration with Environmental Health” http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1409283/) and introducing the concept of environmental reproductive justice ("Indigenous Peoples of North America: Environmental Exposures and Reproductive Justice" http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1205422/ ), as well as an article in Ecological Processes about the cultural impacts of fish advisories on Native American communities (http://www.ecologicalprocesses.com/content/2/1/4).
I also serve as a co-leader for the Community Engagement Core of Brown's Superfund Research Program, collaborating with the Narragansett Indian Tribe on the Namaus (All things Fish) project, testing fish from reservation ponds for contaminants, and conducting focus groups with tribal members about fish contamnants.
In addition, I am working to develop a Native American Studies Program at Brown. In conjunction with a dozen other interested colleagues across multiple disciplines, we have formed the Native American and Indigenous Studies at Brown (NAISAB) interest group (see http://www.brown.edu/academics/native-american-and-indigenous-studies/). In addition I have been collaborating with Emily Contois and interested faculty here at Brown on developing Food Studies at Brown ( https://www.brown.edu/academics/american-studies/food-studies/home).
As a graduate student at Brown I was an active member of NAB (Native Americans at Brown), and I now serve as the faculty mentor for NAB, which has grown to over 25 active students. NAB had our first annual powwow in 2002, and it has grown into a major annual event here in New England.
Superfund Research Program, Community Engagement Core (funded by National Institute of Environemntal Health Sciences (NIEHS) 2015-2018
Ford Postdoctoral Fellowship 2014-2015
Salomon Faculty Research Award 2013-2014
Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowship 2009-2010
Swearer Center (Brown University) Dissertation Grant 2009-2010
Switzer Environmental Fellowship 2008-2009
NSF Cultural Anthropology Dissertation Improvement Grant 2008-2009
Lynn Reyer Tribal Community Development Grant, issued by the Society for the
Preservation of American Indian Culture 2008-2009
Mihesuah, Devon and Elizabeth Hoover, editors. 2019. Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the United States: Restoring Cultural Knowledge, Protecting Environments, and Regaining Health. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
Hoover, Elizabeth and Sean Sherman. 2019. “The answers to our ancestors’ prayers;” Seeding a movement for health and culture.” 2018 Conference Proceedings for the Oxford Food Symposium. Paper and presentation won the “Oxford Food Symposium Outstanding New Presenter Award”
I co-wrote the introduction, conclusion, and chapter titled “Voices” for Mihesuah, Devon and Elizabeth Hoover (eds). 2019. Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the United States: Restoring Cultural Knowledge, Protecting Environments, and Regaining Health (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press)
Hoover, Elizabeth. 2019. “’You can’t say you’re sovereign if you can’t feed yourself:’ Defining and Enacting Food Sovereignty in American Indian Community Gardening,” in Mihesuah, Devon and Elizabeth Hoover (eds). 2019. Indigenous Food Sovereignty in the U.S.: Restoring Cultural Knowledge, Protecting Environments, and Regaining Health. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
White, Rowen and Elizabeth Hoover. 2019. “Our Living Relatives: Maintaining Resilience and Seed Diversity in Native American Communities.” IN The New Farmers Almanac, Vol 4, edited and published by the Greenhorns.
Isaac, Gwyneira; Joseph Gone, Jenny Joe, Elizabeth Hoover, Clarita Lefthand Begay, Stewart Hill. 2018. “Native American Perspectives on Health and Traditional Environmental Knowledge” Environmental Health Perspectives 126(12). https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/10.1289/EHP1944
Hoover, Elizabeth. 2017. “’You can’t say you’re sovereign if you can’t feed yourself:’ Defining and Enacting Food Sovereignty in American Indian Community Gardening” American Indian Culture and Research Journal 41(3): 31-70. DOI 10.17953/aicrj.41.3.hoover
Hoover, Elizabeth. 2017. The River Is In Us; Fighting Toxics in a Mohawk Community. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Hoover, Elizabeth. 2017. “Environmental Reproductive Justice: Intersections in an American Indian Community Impacted by Environmental Contamination.” Environmental Sociology. Published online September 30 2017. DOI: 10.1080/23251042.2017.1381898
Hoover, Elizabeth. (2016) “We’re not going to be guinea pigs;” Citizen Science and Environmental Health in a Native American Community” Journal of Science Communication Published online January 21 2016. Available at http://jcom.sissa.it/archive/15/01/JCOM_1501_2016_A05
Hoover, Elizabeth, Phil Brown, Michael Edelstein and Mia Renauld. 2015. “Social Science Collaboration with Environmental Health.” Environmental Health Perspectives Advance Publish. http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1409283/
Hoover, Elizabeth. 2013. "Cultural and Health Implications of Fish Advisories in a Native American Community" Ecological Processes 2:4. doi:10.1186/2192-1709-2-4 http://www.ecologicalprocesses.com/content/2/1/4/abstract
Hoover, Elizabeth, Katsi Cook, Ron Plain, Kathy Sanchez, Vi Waghiyi, Pamela Miller, Renee Dufault, Caitlin Sislin and David O. Carpenter. 2012. "Indigenous Peoples of North America: Environmental Exposures and Reproductive Justice" Environmental Health Perspectives.120:1645-1649. http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/wpcontent/uploads/2012/09/ehp.1205422.pdf
Brown, Phil; Stephen Zavestoski, Sabrina McCormick, Brian Mayer, Rachel Morello-Frosch, Rebecca Gasior Altman, Crystal Adams, and Elizabeth Hoover. 2011.“Embodied Health Movements: Uncharted Territory in Social Movement Research.” In Contested Illnesses: Ethnographic Explorations. Edited by Phil Brown, Rachel Morello-Frosch, and Stephen Zavestoski. University of California Press.
Brown,Phil; Rachel Morello-Frosch, Stephen Zavestoski, Laura Senier, Rebecca Altman, Elizabeth Hoover, Sabrina McCormick, Brian Mayer, and Crystal Adams. 2010. “Health Social Movements: Advancing Traditional Medical Sociology Concepts” In Handbook of Health, Illness & Healing: Blueprint for the 21st Century. Ed by Bernice A. Pescosolido, Jack K. Martin, Jane McLeod, and Anne Rogers, New York: Springer. P 117-138.
Brown, Phil; Rachel Morello-Frosch , Stephen Zavestoski, Laura Senier, Rebecca Altman, Elizabeth Hoover, Sabrina McCormick, Brian Mayer, and Crystal Adams. 2010. “Field Analysis and Policy Ethnography: New Directions for Studying Health Social Movements.” IN Social Movements and the Transformation of American Health Care. Edited by Mayer Zald, Jane Banaszak-Holl, and Sandra Levitsky. Oxford University Press. P 101-116.
Hoover, Elizabeth, Phil Brown, Mara Averick, Robert Hurt, and Agnes Kane. 2009."Teaching Small and Thinking Large: Effects of Including Social and Ethical Implications in an Interdisciplinary Nanotechnology Course." Journal of Nano Education. 1(1): 86-95.
Senier, Laura; Benjamin Hudson; Sarah Fort; Elizabeth Hoover; Rebecca Tilson; Phil Brown. 2008 "The Brown Superfund Basic Research Program: A Multistakeholder Partnership Addresses Real-World Problems in Contaminated Communities" Environmental Science and Technology. 42 (13), pp 4655–4662.
Public Facing Scholarship
a. Popular Press Articles
Hoover, Elizabeth. 2018. “Food Boxes Have Already Failed for Native Communities, Why Would They Work for SNAP?” Teen Vogue, March 2, 2018.
From Garden Warriors to Good Seeds, Indigenizing the Local Food Movement blog featuring my writing and photos about the Indigenous food movement https://gardenwarriorsgoodseeds.com/
b. Published Photographs
My photograph of chef Brit Reed was published in an article about her in Civil Eats in the article “Chef Brit Reed Brings Political Activism, Indigenous Traditions to the Table” by Dee Kim, November 29 2018. https://civileats.com/2018/11/29/chef-brit-reed-brings-political-activism-indigenous-traditions-to-the-table/
Six of my photographs of indigenous foods and chefs published in The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen by Sean Sherman and Beth Dooley, 2017, University of Minnesota Press.
Ten of my photographs of Indigenous foods published in the cookbook Cooking Healthier with FDPIR Foods, sponsored by the First Nations Development Institute, available at https://firstnations.org/sites/default/files/FDPIRToolkit/FDPIRCookbookFinalLoResPPS.pdf
Twelve of my photos of the Oceti Sakowin camp were featured in a special issue of The Wayfarer Magazine (vol 6 Issue 1, spring 2017, p 32-55).
A photograph of chef Karlos Baca that I took was published in article “Chef Karlos Baca, Founder of Taste of Native Cuisine, Talks Decolonizing Foodways and Waking up the Indigenous Consciousness,” by Kristin Butler, August 8 2017, Indian Country Today. Available at https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/culture/health-wellness/chef-karlos-baca-founder-taste-native-cuisine-talks-decolonizing-foodways-waking-indigenous-consciousness/)
My photograph of water protectors at Standing Rock being hit with tear gas was selected in a contest by the American Anthropological Association in November 2017, and featured in the association’s 2018 calendar.
Photos of water protectors being hit with tear gas and Morton County officers shooting were also used by
*Democracy Now (https://www.democracynow.org/2017/1/25/im_afraid_they_are_out_to) ,
*Oil Change International (http://priceofoil.org/2016/11/22/300-injured-at-standing-rock-he-just-smiled-and-shot-both-my-kneecaps/)
*and countless others who borrowed the photos and used them without attribution.
c. Photographs Used in Performance Pieces and Exhibits
My photograph of water protectors at Standing Rock being hit with tear gas was
*featured as a backdrop at the Ottawa National Arts Center for a stage production called Le Wild West Show de Gabriel Dumont, November 2017.
* featured in the exhibit “Sioux Surveillance: Examining the role of drone video and sousveillance in the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline” in the Haffenreffer Museum, and as the cover for the museum’s Contexts magazine.
Stanford Humanitees Center fellowship 2018-2019
Endowed position as Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies 2015-
Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Humanities/Social Sciences 2015
Brown Center for Students of Color (formerly Third World Center) Faculty Fellow 2013-2015
Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship 2014-2015
Haffenreffer Museum Faculty Fellow 2013-2014
Society for Applied Anthropology Beatrice Medicine Travel Award, March 2010
K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award 2010
Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship 2009-2010
Swearer Center (Brown University) Dissertation Award 2009-2010
NSF Cultural Anthropology Dissertation Improvement Grant 2008-2009
Switzer Environmental Fellowship 2008-2009
ELP Environmental Leadership Program Fellowship 2008-2009
Lynn Reyer Tribal Community Development Grant, issued by the Society for the Preservation of American Indian Culture 2008-2009
Ronald McNair Scholars Program, Williams College, 1999-2001
Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers (IRT) Fellowship, Andover MA, July 2000
Class of 1957 Scholarship, Williamstown MA, October 1999 and October 2000
American Studies Association (ASA)
Native American & Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA)
American Anthropological Assoc (AAA)
Anthropology and the Environment section
Association of Indigenous Anthropologists
Culture and Agriculture Division
Society for the Anthropology of North America (SANA)
Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance (NAFSA)
I teach classes in American Studies and Ethnic Studies that explore Native American Studies, environmental health, food movements, and community engaged research. A synopsis of classes is given below:
ETHN0500: Introduction to Ethnic Studies
This course is meant to introduce students to the broader field of Ethnic Studies through an investigation of how the categories of race and ethnicity have evolved in the United States, and how these categories impact the lived realities of people today. We will do this by exploring different contemporary issues through a range of theoretical, historical, sociological, anthropological, and cultural texts. The course is intended as illustrative, not exhaustive: there is no way to cover this rich field of critical inquiry in one semester, nor is it possible to cover every racial or ethnic community that resides in the United States. Our investigation of race will intersect with other categories of analysis such as gender, class, and sexuality, and throughout the course we will examine how these categories are shaped by politics, culture, and the economy. The course is intended for students interested in the field of Ethnic Studies, as well as anyone planning on a career in medicine, law, public policy, government and politics, journalism, education, public health, social work, business, international relations, and or any other career that entails working with people.
ETHN 1890H: Introduction to American Indian Studies
This class examines the politics, cultures, histories, representations, and study of the Native peoples of North America. Although broad in cultural and geographic scope, the course does not attempt to summarize the diverse cultures of the several hundred Native groups of the continent. Instead, we will focus on several key issues in the lives of, and scholarship about, American Indian peoples. In order to optimize this experience, this class combines lecture with weekly independent research and group discussion projects. Tuesday class lectures will present the information you need to understand the major issues facing American Indian communities, including sovereignty, education, natural resource use, activism, gender and sexuality, identity, and stereotypes. Thursday group work will allow you to expand your knowledge on these topics by applying this information to the tribe or region of your choice. Students are expected to finish the class with a comprehension of the present day status of American Indians, in addition to an appreciation of their historical circumstances.
ETHN 1890 M: Treaty Rights and Food Fights: Eating Local in Indian Country
This course addresses how Native American communities are addressing food related issues—from fighting rising rates of diabetes and obesity stemming from a drastically changed diet, to preservation of tribal food culture, to defending treaty ensured hunting, fishing and gathering rights. Around the Western world “eating local” has become a trend and a call for action against a globalized food system that pollutes the environment, oppresses small farmers, and has contributed to chronic illness. In many Native American communities the renewed push to “eat local” is more often based on reviving a traditional food culture that has been affected by alienation from the land, and a shift to modern culture. This class explores the disparate health conditions faced by Native communities, and the efforts by many community groups to address these health problems through increasing community access to traditional foods, whether by gardening projects or a revival of hunting and fishing traditions. We will examine the ways in which Native food movements have converged and diverged from general American local food movements, and the struggles they often face in reviving treaty-guaranteed food ways.
Roadmap: We begin the semester by examining why scholars have found the study of food to be important to the understanding of a people and how scholars, especially of food studies, have written about and essentialized indigenous food-ways. We will compare these to essays written by indigenous scholars about the importance of preserving and reviving traditional foods. From there we will discuss four media of food culture: farming/gardening, whaling, fishing, and gathering. We will conclude by reflecting on the different ways that Native community members in each case study chose to organize around the issue.
Learning Outcomes: By the end of the course, students will have a clearer understanding of:
AMST1700I Community Engagement with Health and the Environment
This seminar explores how local community organizations are taking up issues of health and the environment in culturally relevant contexts. We will examine issues of environmental justice, health disparities and the basic tenets of community based participatory research. We will then partner with a local community organization and, depending on need, assist in the design, implementation, and/or evaluation of a program designed to improve the local environment and/or health status of the community.
The topics to be covered throughout the semester are based on the issues presented by our community partners: social movements, environmental justice, food access, lead poisoning, health disparities, and access to green space. Each of these issues has been taken up by non-profit community-based organizations across RI in order to better the health and environment of residents.
The object of the course is to help you as students learn how to develop partnerships that are both useful in the development of your scholarship, and relevant to the work of our community partners. I.e. the work you will be doing is not just community service (a donation of your time for the good of helping others), but something that should help you grow academically by teaching you how to conduct applied research.
Course Objectives: Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
ETHN 1890J: Native American Environmental Health Movements
American Indian reservations are currently home to over 600 Superfund sites, and countless other sources of environmental contamination. Many of these communities are concerned about how the contamination from these sites will affect their health, and about how conventional risk assessments done at these sites do not often enough take Native culture and subsistence into account. In the past, scientists had sometimes descended on the community, collected physical data and personal information, and left without concerns of tailoring their studies to community needs, or reporting results back to the community. Today, many Native communities are taking charge of the research process, and partnering with scientists through a “community based participatory research” (CBPR) approach, which takes a more democratic and ecological approach to the study of environmental health. Through three case studies, we will examine how environmental contamination has impacted the health and culture of different Native communities across North America. We will look at how they organized around environmental health issues, how they pushed for results, how they worked with and/or fought against science. These communities are often engaging in “popular epidemiology,” gathering data and resources to understand health conditions in their communities, and creating social movements (often begun by women) around addressing these issues.
The three case studies we will be focusing on are: the PCB contamination of the St. Lawrence River that bisects the Akwesasne Mohawk community; the uranium mines that affected miners, their families, and community members who consume contaminated water on the Navajo Nation; and the PCB contamination of food sources for Yu’pik villagers on St. Lawrence Island in Alaska. Within each case we will learn about the culture and history of the community, and the more recent histories of environmental contamination. We will also examine how the community has organized and sought to draw attention to their environmental health issues, and how environmental health researchers were brought in, or invited themselves in, to assist with the cause. We will examine the outcomes of the health studies that were conducted, the ways in which CBPR was, or was not, employed and how the results were given back to the community.
Part of applied work in indigenous communities involves working in teams and with multidisciplinary literature, studies, and results. Humanities and Social Science students are not expected to fully grasp all of the science in the reports below—the important thing is to look at how the studies were run, the results presented, and the lessons learned. Students of the natural sciences are not expected to fully agree with all of the community viewpoints presented—the important thing is to understand the importance of including community engagement in community-based research projects. Across all of the disparate case studies, think about how community based participatory research (CBPR) is presented, and lessons learned from errors in this arena. Many researchers do not read outside of their disciplines-- how could some of these researchers have learned from each other?
This class is geared towards a multi-disciplinary group of students. Throughout the course we will be discussing how the social sciences have and can continue to contribute to the discovery and remediation of contaminated sites, as well as documenting the impact of a contaminated environment on the health and culture of indigenous communities. For science oriented students, we will be discussing how you can carry the lessons learned about community work by the scientists who carried out these studies into your own future work
|AMST 1700I - Community Engagement with Health and the Environment|
|ETHN 0500 - Introduction to American/Ethnic Studies|
|ETHN 1000 - Introduction to American/Ethnic Studies|
|ETHN 1750B - Treaty Rights and Food Fights: Eating Local in Indian Country|