“This session was a painful reminder of how government policies and persistent racism have deprived whole communities of their capacity to care for themselves. But the work of these two leaders also provided hope for how self-help and cooperation can be powerful forces in making positive change.” – Kevin Edberg
The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives (UWCC) hosted its first hybrid in-person and online Consumer Cooperative Management Association’s (CCMA) Conference, bringing together grocery cooperative leaders from across the United States and Canada. CDS Executive Director Kevin Edberg facilitated a plenary session of Indigenous leaders working to change food systems in their respective communities. Biijibah Begaye, of Cooperative Catalyst of New Mexico, described how persistent federal and state policies have undermined the ability of Native peoples to secure their own food and community security, and spoke to the role of cooperatives as self-help institutions that can address those issues. Nick Hernandez of Makoce Agricultural Development described how the Oglala Lakota Nation in South Dakota is using local food systems to reclaim native foods and food traditions to meet the food, health and nutrition needs of that community.