Decolonizing discourses : the First Foods of the Columbia Basin
The history of colonization in the Northwestern United States is long and violent, and it continues in different forms today. However, resistance to the settler state by indigenous populations has an equally long and tense history, which has cyclically gained momentum and ferocity through today. Because of coerced dependence on Western food sources and discourses, as well as the depletion of naturally available traditional food sources, through environmental degradation, land development, and US governmental policies, traditional subsistence lifestyles are difficult to maintain for tribal members in the US. In response to this profound cultural shift, and the social and individual health issues that follow, various indigenous groups have implemented programs and policies to encourage a return to reliance on the "First Foods." In the Pacific Northwest, seasonal cycles of foods -- and their respective collection and consumption traditions and discourses--grouped under the headings "water, salmon, deer, cous, and huckleberries" (CTUIR) make up the First Foods. "First Foods," in the context of other indigenous decolonization initiatives, can be viewed as a political and social movement, working towards the availability and use of traditional food sources and discourses in resistance to colonizing powers. In this project, through ethnographic work with various organizations and tribal members, I contextualize "First Foods" movements in the Pacific Northwest with broader indigenous decolonization and resistance movements in the US and abroad.
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