Native American Cultural Center and Yale Sustainable Food Program host Indigenous Food Pathways event

Participants in the event bonded around food sharing and learned about indigenous food culture and traditional methods of sustainable agriculture.


Contributing journalist


Joaquin Fernandez-Duque, collaborating photographer

The Native American Cultural Center and the Yale Sustainable Food Program hosted an event on November 18 to teach attendees about Indigenous food, offer tours of the Yale farm, and engage people in community development activities.

Participants were greeted with sunny weather and the opportunity to explore Yale Farm before the onset of winter. Participants sat outside and discussed food sustainability and their personal connections to the foods of their culture, while enjoying the food offered by the event itself. The meal, which consisted of Three Sisters chili, kale salad, cran-apple-jalapeño chutney, white cornbread, and a potato cobbler, was prepared from crops grown at Yale Farm. Catherine Webb ’23, the program liaison between NACC and YSFP, organized the collaboration.

“Along with bringing communities together in general, I think it’s really important to showcase indigenous food in these spaces and have programs around that,” said Webb. “Food is so essential to any culture and is part of the indigenous culture that was lost or stolen during the colonization processes. “

Webb added that opportunities like the Indigenous Food Pathways event allow students to not only appreciate food and its cultural significance, but also connect them to the land and plants. During the event, attendees were reminded that they were on the currently occupied lands of Quinnipiac and other Algonquian speaking peoples.

During the farm tour, a member of Yale Farm explained traditional Three Sisters cultivation techniques: squash, corn and climbing beans. While the squash cover the ground, the tall corn stalks allow the beans to climb and grow, creating an efficient system in which all three can be grown on the same patch of land.

Matthew Makomenaw, Assistant Dean of Yale College and Director of NACC, explained the importance of creating a community and environment where Native American students can be represented by other Native American students, faculty and staff. He said he advocates for representation and inclusion in Yale’s programs and fields in all disciplines because seeing your “possible self” is important to Native American students. Makomenaw said community events like this bring people from different walks of life to meet.

“[There is value in] bringing people together across campus, not just [from the] NACC but people from other departments, and really help create opportunities for collaboration, for people to meet… and see where there is commonality and they can build and create other programs and other opportunities. Said Makomenaw. “It’s a win all around.”

Cynthia Campbell ’24 – who is listed in the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska and descends from the Meskwaki Sac and Fox tribe of Mississippi and the Pomo and Calanopo tribes of the Round Valley Indian tribes – stressed the importance of NACC.

“I discovered NACC when I was researching Yale before applying,” Campbell wrote in an email to News. “It was actually one of the many reasons I chose to go to Yale. I will continue to participate as much as possible through the NACC because I appreciate the warmth of its community.

Campbell added that she enjoyed sharing moments with her Native American classmates and was constantly “in awe of their brilliance, dedication and kind heart.”

Campbell explained that in Native American culture, food is associated with more than just ingredients, as it is also tied to stories, connections, and lessons.

“A lot of times when cooking food for others it’s a labor of love, and my dad always says it’s important to be in the right frame of mind when doing things for them. others, because that’s what his mother taught him, “Campbell wrote. “It’s a lesson that applies to food, art and life in general.”

The NACC is located at 26 High St.

James C. Tibbs