Six Colleges and Universities Awarded Grants Promoting Cultural Integration through Indigenous Foodways

The Sovereign Equity Fund is proud to announce the first cohort of Cultural Foodways grantees, six Tribal Colleges and Universities, each with grants of $200,000 for activities over two years. The Cultural Foodways Fund is a grant opportunity to reclaim and revitalize the intersection between Indigenous cultural identity and foodways. The grant is dedicated to projects focused on safeguarding the cultural and humanities aspects of work that address the traditions, ceremonies, language, art, storytelling, cosmologies, belief systems, customs, and ways of being intertwined with Indigenous foodways.   


Earlier this year, Founding Funding Partners, Mellon Foundation, and the Native American Agriculture Fund announced their $2.4M collaborative investment towards the Cultural Foodways Fund. The partnership between the two entities was established in an effort to expand the cultural connections of that work and sustain the ancestral knowledge that serves as the foundation for tribal food sovereignty. 


“We at Mellon are proud to partner with the Native American Agriculture Fund to support the crucial intersection of humanities and agricultural knowledge in Native communities. Tribal colleges and universities are ideally positioned to connect Indigenous foodways knowledge to relevant courses, research, and programming that can both serve their own communities and advance higher learning that lays the foundation for more just and equitable futures for all,” says Maria Sachiko Cecire, Program Officer in Higher Learning at the Mellon Foundation. 


“At the Native American Agriculture Fund, we are committed to reducing and eliminating barriers for Native American farmers and ranchers advancing Indigenous agricultural economies. This partnership with the Mellon Foundation aims to expand the cultural connections of that work and sustain the ancestral knowledge that serves as the foundation for our food sovereignty. This funding will be available to TCUs, and as a proud TCU graduate myself, I look forward to supporting and strengthening the opportunity for TCUs to provide important curriculum and resources through a respectful cultural lens and expand their role as a vital vehicle for education in our Tribal communities,” says NAAF CEO Toni Stanger-McLaughlin. 


If you are a TCU and wish to apply for the Cultural Foodways Fund, watch for the second grant cycle request for applications in the spring of 2024. 



Below are the six awardees of the 2023 Cultural Foodways Fund: 

College of Menominee Nation 

Location: (Two locations) Keshena, Wisconsin, and Green Bay, near the reservation of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin 


"This project will enhance the lives of our community members. Helping them gain knowledge of traditional foods. Learning from the elders as they prepare meals. And, taking that knowledge and culture back to their homes to share with their families and to pass on to future generations."

-George Otradovec

Chief Financial Officer 

Fort Peck Community College 

Location: Poplar, Montana. The college is located on the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Reservation 


"The FPCC Land-based Learning project enhances cultural foodways by connecting our Indigenous ways of knowing with the land and community. This project will emphasize the long-standing relationship between the land, language, and people that make the community of the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes one of the most unique places on earth."

-Elijah Hopkins

Vice President of Student Services 

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe University 

Location: Hayward, Wisconsin 


"Our project works to build capacity among our students, families, and community members by preparing them to be life-long harvesters and stewards of our sacred homelands. 

Arts and humanities play a role by influencing the practicality and aesthetics of our homemade traditional equipment and seasonal harvest practices. 

We are training new harvesters to prepare for, gather, care for, and finish some of our sacred foods, the key to being a healthy Anishinaabe person and community. "

-Dr. Michael D. Sullivan Sr.

Native American Studies Director 

Red Lake Nation College 

Location: Red Lake, Minnesota, Red Lake Indian Reservation

“We are excited for the new Cultural Foodways grant that Red Lake Nation College Community Connections Extension office has just been awarded. 

This new grant allows Red Lake Nation College to focus on traditional foods and adds tools needed to be self sustaining while increasing cultural learning, language and the land sovereignty.”

-Chief Dan King, 

Hereditary Chief of the Red Lake Nation

President, Red Lake Nation College 


Sisseton Wahpeton College 

Location: Lake Traverse Reservation in South Dakota 


"Wiconi Wicozani is our project with the goal of assisting our tribal members to work towards living a healthy lifestyle through education to learn about every sector of the food systems and integrating culture, language, as wellness to inform policy and implementing lasting programs at Sisseton Wahpeton College."

-John Christopherson

Land Grant Manager 

Sitting Bull College 

Location: Fort Yates, North Dakota and McLaughlin, South Dakota 


"The visionary project of ‘Cultivating Indigenous Food Sovereignty’ holds the promise of a profound and lasting impact on our community. Through the dissemination of traditional knowledge, our team aims to establish a nourishing curriculum, deeply rooted in Indigenous wisdom. This will not only address immediate food concerns but will also foster a renewed sense of cultural identity. This project will create a legacy of knowledge, resilience, and sustainable practices that will fortify our community's bond with its heritage and nourish its future."

-Jennifer Martel

Program Manager 

The Sovereign Equity Fund is a nonprofit institution focused on driving equitable funding access, sustainable agriculture, food sovereignty, and economic growth for Native America. With pride and profound dedication, SEF is forging transformative partnerships to enhance the distinct needs, opportunities, and values of tribal communities to create meaningful results, nurturing a legacy of resilience and prosperity.