The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community and three nationally
significant partners today announced Seeds
of Native Health, a major philanthropic campaign to improve
the nutrition of Native Americans across the country. The SMSC is
committing $5 million to launch the campaign and plans to recruit
other funding and strategic partners.
Nutrition is very poor among many of our fellow Native
Americans, which leads to major health problems, said SMSC
Chairman Charlie Vig. Our Community has a tradition of helping
other tribes and Native American people. The SMSC is committed to
making a major contribution and bringing others together to help
develop permanent solutions to this serious problem.
Generations of extreme poverty and the loss of traditional foods
have resulted in poor and inadequate diets for many Native Americans,
leading to increased obesity, diabetes, and other profound health
problems. Many tribes, nonprofits, public health experts,
researchers, and advocates have already been working on solutions,
said SMSC Vice-Chairman Keith Anderson. We hope this campaign
will bring more attention to their work, build on it, bring more
resources to the table, and ultimately put Indian Country on the
path to develop a comprehensive strategy, which does not exist today.
The Seeds of Native Health campaign will include efforts to
improve awareness of Native nutrition problems, promote the wider
application of proven best practices, and encourage additional work
related to food access, education and research.
Native health problems have many causes, but we know that
many of these problems can be traced to poor nutrition, said
SMSC Secretary/Treasurer Lori Watso, who has spent much of her career
in community public health. She provided the original idea for the
SMSCs nutrition campaign.
Traditional Native foods have a much higher nutritional
value than what is most easily accessible today, Watso continued.
By promoting best practices, evidence-based methods, and the
re-introduction of healthy cultural practices, we believe that tribal
governments, nonprofits, and grassroots practitioners can collectively
make lasting strides towards a better future.
Having donated more than $325 million since opening its Gaming
Enterprise in the 1990s, as well as providing more than $500 million
in economic development loans to other tribes, the SMSC is the largest
philanthropic benefactor for Indian Country nationally and one of
the largest charitable givers in Minnesota.
Seeds of Native Health partners
The SMSC has enlisted three nationally significant
strategic partners in the campaign: First Nations Development Institute,
headquartered in Colorado; the Notah Begay III Foundation, based
in New Mexico; and the University of Minnesota.
First Nations Development Institute has longstanding expertise
in efforts to eliminate food insecurity, build the health of communities,
and support entrepreneurship and economic development. It is receiving
$1.4 million from the SMSC for re-granting to projects relating
to food access, food sovereignty, and capacity building.
First Nations has spent 35 years working to build healthy
economies in Indian Country, and we are thrilled for the opportunity
to be a strategic partner in an initiative that will coordinate
so many of the crucial efforts happening today, said Michael
Roberts, president of the First Nations Development Institute.
The Notah Begay III Foundation is dedicated to promoting wellness
among Indian children. It is receiving $1.1 million from the SMSC
for re-granting to projects relating to childhood nutrition.
The problems facing many young Native Americans are great,
but none is more fundamental than health problems which have their
root cause in poor nutrition, said Notah Begay III, creator
of his namesake foundation. This philanthropic effort led
by the SMSC will be a game-changer.
Chairman Vig said that selecting the University of Minnesota
as a strategic partner in this initiative was natural. The
University is a world-class research and teaching institution in
the fields of agriculture, food science, nutrition, and public health.
We are fortunate to have a strategic partner in our own backyard.
The Universitys campaign role will include serving as
the convening partner for a new series of annual conferences on
Native American nutrition, developing appropriate cultural interfaces
between academic research and its application by Native communities,
and creating a repository of best practices and national expertise.
The University of Minnesota and the SMSC have a remarkable
partnership, which includes, among others the tribes support
of scholarships of our Native American students and support for
our athletics programs. We are thrilled to lend our expertise and
leadership to this crucial campaign, said University of Minnesota
President Eric W. Kaler.
For more information about Seeds of Native Health, visit www.SeedsOfNativeHealth.org.
About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally
recognized, sovereign Indian tribe located southwest of Minneapolis/St.
Paul. With a focus on being a good neighbor, good steward of the
earth, and good employer, the SMSC is committed to charitable donations,
community partnerships, a healthy environment, and a strong economy.
The SMSC and the SMSC Gaming Enterprise (Mystic Lake Casino Hotel
and Little Six Casino) are the largest employer in Scott County.
Out of a Dakota tradition to help others, the SMSC has donated more
than $325 million to organizations and causes since opening the
Gaming Enterprise in the 1990s and has contributed millions more
to regional governments and infrastructure such as roads, water
and sewer systems, and emergency services.
About First Nations Development Institute
For 35 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating
grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing
Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native
American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets
they own be they land, human potential, cultural heritage,
or natural resources and to establish new assets for ensuring
the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations
serves Native American communities throughout the United States.
For more information, visit www.firstnations.org.
About Notah Begay III Foundation
The NB3 Foundation, founded in 2005, is the only national
Native American nonprofit organization solely dedicated to reversing
childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes among Native children. Our
founder, Notah Begay III (Navajo/San Felipe/Isleta Pueblo) is a
four-time PGA TOUR winner and the only full-blooded Native American
to play on the PGA Tour. He is currently a TV golf analyst for NBC
Sports and the Golf Channel.
To date, NB3 Foundation has served over 24,000 Native children
and families in 14 states. In the last three years, NB3 Foundation
has awarded more than $1.8 million in grants to tribal communities
to support childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes prevention. NB3
Foundation has also invested more than $7 million in direct service
programming, including nutrition education, food access pilot projects,
community garden and traditional foods projects, evidence-based
sport programming, physical activity/sports camps and clinics, technical
assistance to tribal communities and nonprofits, and research and
evaluation work. For more information, visit www.nb3foundation.org.
About the University of Minnesota
Founded in 1851, the University of Minnesota is ranked
among the nations top public research universities. As a land-grant
institution, the U of M is committed to engaging Minnesota, national
and global communities to advance interdisciplinary knowledge; enhance
students academic, civic, career, social and personal development;
and apply intellectual and human capital to serve the public good.
of Native Health: A Campaign for Indigenous Nutrition
Extreme poverty and the loss of traditional foods have caused many
Native Americans to suffer from poor or inadequate diets. This has
led to increased obesity, diabetes, and other profound health problems
on a large scale.