On the weekend of September 28, 2013, Bend, Oregon will be hosting Cascadia’s first bioregional food sovereignty convergence at the Cenrtal Oregon Locavore food education center and market. This convergence is bringing together leading voices from the bioregion’s Indigenous food sovereignty movement along with ancestral health activists and working ecological restoration practitioners. The purpose is to weave together the inextricable strands of human health and the health of the land base. Throughout Cascadia, people are working to restore salmon and steelhead runs, heal grasslands from overgrazing, and localize food systems that are fully ecological and supportive of local economies and communities.
From the grasslands of the arid interior, to the abundant tidal pools of the rain forest coast, local inhabitants are working to restore whole watersheds with the intention of reviving the long-term food sovereignty of each place. Cascadia has been home to some of the most diverse and abundant Indigenous food systems for thousands and thousands of years. The decimation that has occurred over the past 200 years of colonization has suppressed this abundance, but both the land and it’s inhabitants are fighting to end this foolishness. The land wants to heal, and we have the hands to make this happen!
We have seen the salmon return so fiercely when the Elwah dams came down. Cascadians, I dare you to dream of the others coming down, one by one! Why are we farming potatoes in a way that destroys salmon runs? Why do we rely on industrial heath care when we are proving that we can heal ourselves with traditional foods and medicines all within the comfort of our own homes and communities? People are healing cancer, diabetes, mental illness, and even reversing tooth decay, all with traditional foods form this land base. People are healing this land and these foods return to the waters, forests, and soil with a beautiful vengeance.
This is not too good to be true. It is happening! If this is all news to you, then this convergence will give you a fighting hope for a future that is truly ours. So come to Bend on the Upper Deschutes and dream your wildest dreams with us under the clear-skied eastern edge of the mighty Cascades.
Dawn Morrison – coordinator of the B.C. Food Systems Network – Working Group on Indigenous Food Sovereignty and Comprehensive Community Planning Coordinator with the Neskonlith Indian Band in Sécwepemculecw.
Sandra M. Matheson – member of the Managing Change Northwest team. She is a life-long farmer, educator, volunteer, veterinarian, wife, and parent. She lives and farms in Bellingham, Washington. Sandra was a participant in the four-year Washington State University IFS Holistic Management Project. She also completed the intensive two-year training to become a Certified Educator in Holistic Management for grassland restoration.
Abe Lloyd – director of Salal, the Cascadian Food Institute, an Adjunct Professor at Western Washington University, Whatcom Community College, and Royal Roads University, and actively researches, promotes, and eats the Indigenous foods of this bountiful bioregion.
Casey B. Corcoran – co-editor ofAutonomy Cascadia: A Journal of Bioregional Decolonization and producer of the film Occupied Cascadia. His work as a grassroots activist focuses on restoring a functioning Food Sovereignty within the Deschutes watershed of central Oregon, while highlighting the ecological connections throughout the entire Cascadian bioregion and greater Salmon Nation.