Food Sovereignty Symposium & Festival 2017 – Event Overview


The Food Sovereignty Symposium & Festival was held in Madison, WI on March 10-12, 2017, featuring a wide range of speakers, demonstration, and meals on the UW-Madison campus and in other parts of the city.  We’d love to hear your thoughts and have created this short survey to collect feedback.  The event’s livestream is available at WATCH IT HERE AT IndianCountryTV.

Picking Up Whitefish and Lake Trout from Matt and Jodi Hipsher

The festival would not have been possible without amazing food from so many Great Lakes Indigenous food producers that included

  • Whitefish and lake trout from Matt and Jodi Hipsher (Red Cliff)
  • Maple syrup and wild rice from Bruce and Tawny Savage of Spirit Lake Native Farms (Fond du Lac)
  • Wild rice from White Earth
  • Wild berry jams and syrups from Red Lake
  • Corn and buffalo from Oneida
  • Cholla cactus buds from San Xavier Cooperative
  • Maple syrup from Shakopee’s Wozupi Tribal Farm
  • Seasonings from Sakari Botanicals
  • Corn flour from Bow and Arrow (Ute Mountain Ute)
  • Hulled Bear Island Flint Corn (Gun Lake Pottawatomi)
  • White Corn from Dan Cornelius (Oneida)
  • Tepary Beans from Ramona Farms (Gila River)

Most of these products are available at Native Market & Gallery located at 1732 Fordem Ave in Madison.  Shipping is available for most items as well.

The Thursday evening opening American Indian Foods Pop-up Dinner was held at Robinia Courtyard through the generous assistance of Jon Reske.

Beginning with appetizers of smoked whitefish and tepary bean dip and buffalo and cranberry pemican, attendees enjoyed Three Sisters Posole and a cholla and wild rice Indigenous salad, followed by roast duck served with Kanastole (Oneida cornbread).  A mesquite cake with berries and maple frosting capped off the first part of the evening.

However, the chefs continued their cooking with a Late Night Pop-up at Forequarter where diners were treated roast quail, Native tostadas, and cornbread hushpuppies with smoked whitefish and tepary bean dip.


Friday morning Genetic Sovereignty Panel came quick after the late night of amazing foods.  Rowen White from Sierra Seed Cooperative joined Julie Dawson and Claire Luby from UW-Madison to share current seed keeping initiatives and strategies for protect Indigenous seed stocks and the communities that have cared for them for so many generations.

You can view the Dawson presentation here: Dawson_2017_08_10_Seed Sovereignty

You can view the Luby presentation here: Luby_Food Sovreignty Symposium Mar 2017


Friday afternoon Food Sovereignty Symposium focused on legal and policy issues, with presentations from Rowen White on legal aspects of seed sovereignty, Abi Fain covering the Tribal Food Code Project, Dan Cornelius and Brian Yazzie discussing Standing Rock, and Martin Reinhardt providing an overview of Great Lakes historical treaties and their impacts on today’s regional food sovereignty efforts.  Friday concluded with a whitefish fish fry dinner at The Crossing.

See Martin Reinhardt’s presentations here: decolonizing_our_diet

and here: eating_our_words



The “Taste of the Tribes,” held at the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery on Saturday morning, provided an opportunity for the Native chef team to highlight their skills, while Rowen White provided a more general overview of Indigenous seed keeping and Elizabeth Hoover shared perspectives on the today’s Indigenous food sovereignty movement.

One of the best parts of the “Taste of the Tribes” was the opportunity for more direct interaction with the chefs, as well as a great opportunity to network with others attending the event.

Saturday also included hands-on demonstrations on topics ranging from seed cleaning to grinding corn flour using a traditional botagen (giant wood pestle & mortar) to cooking a batch of black walnut sap down to syrup.

Saturday afternoon’s Symposium also featured numerous panels on Health Aspects of Food Sovereignty, Access to Land & Markets, Cuisine of this Place, Farm Labor, and Food Sovereignty & the Wisconsin Idea.

Saturday’s events concluded with the Food Sovereignty Indigenous Foods Banquet in partnership with Family Farm Defenders at Union South.  The multi-course meal included a fresh micro-green and wild rice salad, traditional Oneida corn soup, braised buffalo over corn polenta served with roast veggies and Native pesto, and a wild rice, squash, and chia seed pudding.


UW Housing’s Dining Services helped conclude the event with a brunch featuring Indigenous ingredients that followed a campus landscape tour covering the area’s Native American history.  A chef’s panel at the final brunch addressed a range of topics related to today’s revival in the Indigenous foods and Food Sovereignty movement.


And we’d like to extend a huge thank you to our hosts, partners, and sponsors.


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