A deep ecology education curriculum teaching mindfulness as a means to develop agency in the creation of identity, purpose, and wellness. Lesson plans are developed around participatory engagements to install bio-intensive gardens, including reflection activities around ecology, place, culture, and resilience. The program is a partnership with the tribally controlled Theodore Roosevelt Indian School. Shalitha Peaches, a tribal member with a passion for horticulture, is the program lead.
Since Westward Expansion in the 1800s, Native American populations have lacked enough access to water. Eastern settlers pushed Native Americans off of fertile land and dammed and diverted rivers to benefit the colonists' endeavors, which took water access away from the area's original inhabitants. This has lead to water and agricultural issues that still exist today. Tribes, including the White Mountain Apaches, also face Climate Change droughts and high rates of food insecurity.
Seeding Sovereignty provides hands-on classes to teach community members to use water pumps to improve water access. These classes will be taught by water resources expert and White Mountain Apache Tribe member, Cheryl Pailzote. She will support food sovereignty through community classes on cooking and nutrition, family gardens, and seed saving. These classes will create a productive, empowering, and supportive community environment that will both fight these issues and preserve their culture.
As the effects of Climate Change worsen, these courses will equip community members to handle future droughts. Agricultural education will prepare families to sustainably feed themselves for the long-term. The communal and informal nature of the courses will also help strengthen the White Mountain Apache community and culture. These courses are empowering this community to thrive on their land and be fruitful in years to come.