February 24, 2023
Siksikaitsitapi Agriculture Conference 2023
Indigenous Ways of Knowledge on Food Security: Past, Present, and Future.
By Blaire Russell
Communications Officer – Blood Tribe Communications and Community Engagement
The 2023 Siksikaitsitapi Agriculture Conference was hosted by Red Crow College in Standoff on February 22-23, 2023, with the theme of ‘Indigenous Ways of Knowledge on Food Security: Past, Present, and Future’.
The event opened with remarks from Makiinima Chief Roy Fox who spoke of the past agricultural endeavors of the Blood Tribe, “our ancestors practiced the very nature of living off the land, which I believe is the true foundation of agriculture.”
The 2023 Siksikaitsitapi Agriculture Conference was a two-day event that aimed to bridge the past with the present with the current Niitsitapi Agriculture Program at the Red Crow College on the Blood Reserve. The program is intended to foster an uptake of Indigenous-led agricultural education while encouraging the Siksikaitsitapi community members to engage in agricultural production to provide future employment opportunities. The conference also intends to shed light on increasing food security and increasing food supply.
Makiinima stated, “Our ancestors have always been involved in utilizing and developing the natural resources that our creator bestowed and provided for them in the form of plants and animals,” he explained, “Our more recent agricultural history as the Blood Tribe began at the outset of the reservation system and was geared towards farming and ranching practices as developed and introduced by the newcomers.”
The conference had numerous speakers from all backgrounds in agriculture and land stewardship that enriches the collective knowledge of the Siksikaitsitapi. Kainaiwa’s rich history of land stewardship has been a mainstay in the conversations of this week’s agriculture conference.
“Many of our great grandparents quickly adapted to the new methods and they were able to raise livestock and grow crops and vegetables while continuing with traditional hunting and gathering,” said Makiinima, “Subsequently, our grandparents and parents were able to continue with those ag skills and provided for their families and other’s needs.”
Makiinima mentioned his upbringing on the farm and how his brothers and himself vowed never to be involved in that kind of hard work in their lives. Ironically, later in their lives, they would initiate the Blood Tribe Irrigation Project, which has become the largest irrigation farm in Canada. Kainai Forage partnered with Indigena Capital is now the largest producer and exporter of timothy hay in Canada.
The conference is host to numerous speakers from other First Nations and academia to showcase their ideas and practices, and to offer opportunities for knowledge sharing and support to the Blackfoot Confederacy.
Makiinima addressing the 2023 Siksikaitsitapi Agriculture Conference on February 22, 2023. (Photo credit: Blaire Russell)