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Mallory Black – Making small changes for healthier families

SAN DIEGO — It’s summertime across Indian country. That means sunflowers, tomatoes, sweet grass and squash are popping up all over the Lower Sioux community garden.

“We have some really nice tomato plants, and the strawberries came in good,” describes Beth O’Keefe, a member of the Lower Sioux Indian Community of the Mdewakanton Band of Dakota in Minnesota. “I’m not sure about the cucumbers, but there are some beans and squash that have come up, too.”

O’Keefe, who lives within the rural Lower Sioux Indian Reservation about 100 miles west of Minneapolis, chairs the Lower Sioux Health and Human Services Advisory Committee — an 8-person working group selected by community members — which aims to boost healthy eating and reintroduce indigenous foods back into the community.

In March, the group organized a kickoff event with about 100 community members to share knowledge and input for the garden, which was officially planted across from the tribe’s recreation center and next door to the Woniya Kini treatment facility in June.

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