Pokagon food sovereignty initiative brings native food truck to town

DOWAGIAC — This month, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians is bringing a mobile native farmers market to the area.

From 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 22 at the Pokagon Community Center, located at 27043 Potawatomi Trail in Dowagiac, Dan Cornelius from the Intertribal Agriculture Council and members of the Pokagon Band’s food sovereignty committee will host an evening of indigenous food with a wide variety of native foods on display and available for purchase.

This community event includes a tasting of heirloom and indigenous foods at 6 p.m., followed by a presentation on food sovereignty. Cornelius and the IAC aid Indian tribes and native farmers, ranchers and food producers. They operate the mobile farmers market to expand producers’ market access and increase availability of fresh, healthy, and traditional foods to tribal communities.

“Before contact with Europeans, the Potawatomi in Michiana cultivated wild rice, tapped sugar maple trees, harvested berries, and grew vegetables,” said Gary Morseau, chair of the Pokagon Band food sovereignty committee. “Many of those traditions and food varieties were lost over the next centuries, but now the Pokagon Band is starting to reclaim its food sovereignty. Efforts include prepping its agricultural land for organic farming, promoting indigenous foods at tribal events and reviving maple sugar and wild rice production on Pokagon land.”

The Intertribal Agriculture Council was founded in 1987 to pursue and promote the conservation, development, and use of tribal agricultural resources for the betterment of native people. It works on behalf of individual Indian producers and tribal enterprises.

The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians’ sovereignty was reaffirmed under legislation signed into law by President Clinton in September of 1994. The Pokagon Band is dedicated to providing community development initiatives such as housing, education, family services, medical care and cultural preservation for its approximately 5,000 citizens. The Pokagon Band’s ten-county service area includes four counties in Southwestern Michigan and six in Northern Indiana. Its main administrative offices are located in Dowagiac, Mich., with a satellite office in South Bend, Ind. In 2007, it opened Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo, Mich., followed by Four Winds Hartford in 2011 and Four Winds Dowagiac in 2013. Four Winds South Bend opened Jan. 16.  It owns and operates a variety of businesses via Mno-Bmadsen, the tribe’s non-gaming investment enterprise. More information is available at pokagonband-nsn.gov, fourwindscasino.com and mno-bmadsen.com.

For more information on the mobile food market, contact Paige Risser at (269) 783-6199.

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