This is our eighth year hosting this conference. Our wishes are always to convene those Anishinaabeg and our neighbors and relatives to work to restore the plants and foods given to us by the Creator. We are interested in restoring the agro-biodiversity of our land, acknowledging that we are the most northern corn producers in the world, and recalling and remembering that knowledge to bring it to this generation. We are interested in becoming better gardeners, better harvesters and those who restore soil and air, not destroy it.
There are several major goals of this conference and gathering, and many very, very committed and amazing people coming to join us.
l) To establish the foundation for a regional Anishinaabeg/Great Lakes, or Northern Community based seed library - or at least to begin these discussions.
- For this purpose, we are bringing together some of the most remarkable gardeners and seed savers in the region - from those at Menominee Tribal College and Standing Rock Tribal College to Dream of Wild Health, USDA and Seed Savers.
- These discussions will take place largely on Saturday and Sunday at the conference, with some initial discussions on Friday.
- We also have a plant patent attorney coming to join us, to help with any questions on cultural and intellectual property rights.
2) To discuss Indigenous Permaculture Practices and the teaching of this here at Anishinaabe Akiing - with the Midwest Permaculture Association, in preparation for a late April gathering on White Earth. We will discuss Anishinaabeg thinking in this arena, and how to best synergize the Indigenous plant and land knowledge with permaculture.
3) To discuss and affirm Indigenous knowledge and teachings in relationship to our agriculture and plants, through a constant discussion and affirmation of this process with those who are keepers of our culture and knowledge.
4) To discuss and make strategies to continue to protect our communities and relatives focused on pesticide contamination of our land here –
- this initial meeting will be held on the Thursday with representative of our community and the Pesticide Action Network of North America.
- We will have a follow up workshop on Friday to inform people of pesticides in our region.
- We will also have an update on various Indigenous struggles in relationship to genetic contamination of heritage foods.
5) To provide support for Native and heritage farmers through ongoing technical discussions of soils, organics, high tunnel gardening, and other season extensions, as well as marketing.
- This will include presentations by USDA representatives, Dallas Flynn, Curt Ballard, and
- presentations on Saturday by students from the Fergus Falls Community College with Sue Wika and Tom Prieve.
- We hope to have not only resource materials, but also seeds available.
6) To discuss fair trade and organic standards as they apply to Native people.
- There will be some ongoing working groups on this subject with the North American Fair Trade Association and Agricultural Justice Project.
7) To provide excellent workshops on Beekeeping, seed saving, organic farming, community gardening/community food systems, medicinal plants, marketing of products, grow boxes, and updates on genetic engineering and other challenges.
8) To have ongoing youth tracts involving our youth in all of these activities and on Friday to have 30 or so youth from the Pine Point Elementary School.
This Conference is sponsored by the USDA, Honor the Earth, White Earth Tribal Council and Michigan State University, as well as many attendees who are coming with their resources to support our work. In particular, we wish to acknowledge PANNA, Richwood Winery, Seed Savers, Domestic Fair Trade Association, Midwest Permaculture, Three Fires Midewiwin Society, Zenotol Corn Project, Fergus Falls Community College, Maplelag Resort, and many people with good hearts.