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Food Sovereignty & Chairman Joe Davis of the Hoopa Valley Tribe



In the heart of northern California, a story of empowerment and advocacy unfolds. It begins with Tribal leaders, like Hoopa Valley Tribal Chairman Joe Davis, who understand the importance of fostering agricultural endeavors through Tribal provisions in the Farm Bill.


For many Tribes, reconnecting with traditional food ways and establishing food sovereignty is a long-term goal and primary issue. The Hoopa Valley Tribe has made agriculture one of their top priorities and is working to revitalize their traditional fishing practices while incorporating modern techniques to reach their goal of producing and sustaining food sovereignty on their Reservation. Utilizing modern metal weirs to harvest salmon, the Tribe is able to take only what they need while procuring more food for elders, and educating youth on how to clean, cut, smoke, can and preserve traditional foods.


It doesn’t just stop there, however. Achieving food sovereignty for the Hoopa Valley Tribe includes advocacy and education. The Native Farm Bill Coalition (NFBC) works alongside American Indian and Alaska Native producers and Tribal leaders to address Tribal provisions in the Farm Bill. The 2023/2024 Farm Bill offers several opportunities to support Tribal food sovereignty, regional food economies, access to credit, enhancement of Tribal natural resources, parity for Tribal governments, and promotion of traditional foods into feeding programs. These opportunities range from farming and ranching to nutrition programs, rural development and forestry.


For the Hoopa Valley Tribe in northern California, maximizing opportunities to achieve a goal of self-sufficiency for their members starts with educational opportunities for youth, improving the infrastructure for agriculture operations on the Reservation, and creating access to credit and capital for producers to grow and sustain their operations. “I think a lot of it gets back to education, getting kids interested, but also educated on how to produce (agriculture) products at an early age, and creating the infrastructure around that,” stated Chairman Joe Davis in a recent interview. The Tribe is taking a well rounded approach that addresses issues such as drug prevention, food production, youth education, and infrastructure development that will eventually lead to the Tribe becoming self-sustaining as they once were.


Chairman Joe Davis describes his Tribe’s ancestral lands, prior to the establishment of the Reservation, as a “self-sustaining, breadbasket of northern California.” Never dependent upon anyone except themselves, the Tribe was always very self-sustaining. Unfortunately, when the current Reservation boundaries were created at the turn of the 20th century, the Tribe lost approximately ⅚ of their ancestral lands. The ability to grow and produce their own healthy food, in adequate amounts, and train the next generation of Native producers is something the Tribe aspires to do.


“It’s just all about creating opportunities, figuring out where they exist and lobbying for things when you have to,” stated Chairman Davis.

 

The NFBC assists Tribes like the Hoopa Valley Tribe voice their concerns to decision makers in Washington D.C. and ensure they are part of the process. Learning, developing, networking, and evolving are important priorities for the Tribe and they are excited and thankful for their involvement with the NFBC.  


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