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2017 Undergraduate Research Symposium-Becca Marshall

Becca Marshall History of the Northern Paiute’s Food Sovereignty and Cultural Food Security

Through dispossession and assimilation measures, Euro-American settler-colonial forces displaced tribal members and erected barriers limiting the Northern Paiutes’ access to their traditional food lifeways, and thereby their self-sustainment and food sovereignty. These traditional foods were historically central to their lives and expression of sovereignty, and still play a crucial role in their culture today. I argue that the Northern Paiutes’ exercise of, and ability to express, their food sovereignty affects not only their overall food security, but also, their cultural food security. In collaboration with the Northern Paiute community, with significant contributions from tribal elder course partners Wilson Wewa and Myra Johnson-Orange, this study practices a decolonizing approach to researching the food sovereignty of the Northern Paiute. Furthermore, the work highlights the voices of Northern Paiutes through interviews, recordings, newspapers, and articles, and will be shared with the Northern Paiute community in a monograph compiled with other research. Primary sources examined to better understand the Northern Paiutes’ food sovereignty included tribal constitutions, codes, treaties, declarations, and federal Indian case law. Critical secondary sources included Elaine Power’s article on cultural food security, “Conceptualizing Food Security for Aboriginal People in Canada”, Felix Cohen’s, Handbook of Federal Indian Law; chapters from Laura Berg’s book, The First Oregonians; and James Gardner’s Oregon Apocalypse: The Hidden History of the Northern Paiute. A complex network of federal, state, and individual forces limit the food sovereignty of the Northern Paiutes. Yet, the Northern Paiutes have in the past, and continue to exercise their food sovereignty through different tribal government and community initiatives. This research fits into the broader scope of food security for the Northern Paiutes, illuminating the role tribal food sovereignty plays in realizing food and social justice for the Northern Paiutes, along with the cultural importance of sustaining access to traditional food lifeways to achieve food security for the tribe.