Wellness Warriors Spotlight: Interview with Indigikitchen
Interview with Mariah Gladstone (Blackfeet), Founder of Indigikitchen
What is Indigikitchen?
Indigikitchen, a portmanteau of Indigenous, digital, and kitchen, is an online cooking show dedicated to re-indigenizing our diets using digital media. Using foods native to their Americas, Indigikitchen gives viewers the important tools they need to find and prepare food on their own reservations. Beyond that, it strengthens the ties to our cultures and reminds us of the inherent worth of our identities white fueling our physical bodies.
The genocide of American Indians is well known: warfare, smallpox, and boarding schools have all contributed to the systematic erasure of Native people and culture. However, the current threat to Natives’ wellness comes as a culmination of orchestrated attacks on our traditional food systems. Contributing to this were the near eradication of the bison, damming of rivers, and forced relocation to unfarmable land. Consequently, tribes became reliant on rations and government food programs which ultimately led to a loss of traditional dietary knowledge. The result on Native health has been staggering. Malnutrition and obesity rates are the highest in the country, 50% of Native children born today are expected to develop Type II Diabetes in their lifetimes, and the life expectancy of Natives is 20 years less than white Americans. The impact that American government policies have had on Indigenous health cannot be overstated; this is, at its core, a civil rights issue. Under the shadow of food insecurity, the US Government has forced Indian Nations into poor agreements. Now corporations, especially within the fossil fuel sector, are doing the same. Politically, Native people cannot truly assert sovereignty so long as we do not possess the ability to feed ourselves. Though Indigikitchen works primarily to combat food insecurity by revitalizing traditional foods, the social issues that it seeks to address are threefold: diet-related health issues in Indigenous communities, economic hardships caused by living in a food desert, and strengthening the capacity for Indigenous sovereignty.
It’s no secret that healthy eating generally involves avoiding processed foods and preservatives. Pre-contact foods like wild game, berries, corn, squash, and wild rice are far easier for the digestive system to process than soy, dairy and sugar. In the case of Natives, there is the added benefit of cultural revitalization; pre-contact foods, especially those harvested locally, are a testament to the resilience of Native lifestyles and a delicious way of resisting colonization.
Go to facebook.com/Indigikitchen