Home gardens help address food insecurity on Wind River Indian Reservation

Food insecurity is without access to healthy and affordable food. Historical racism and long commutes to a grocery store prevent Indigenous people on the Wind River Reservation from accessing healthy food.

Growing Resilience, a community-based research project, studies how food insecurity affects the health of Indigenous people on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Growing Resilience aims to measure the diets of Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribesmen to understand how home gardens can mitigate the effects of low access to healthy food on the reservation.

Melvin Arthur is from northern Arapaho and is a project researcher. Arthur said that through the project they have planted 100 gardens which have reached 400 families.

“I feel like I’m on the reservation with the food dignity and growing resilience and everything that’s started is like we’ve started our own little movement for the Wind River,” Arthur said.

The study has been put on hold due to COVID-19 health restrictions, but will follow up with families once it is safe to continue the research.

The project cites Native people dying 30 years earlier than white people on average in Wyoming.

Christine Porter, an associate professor at the University of Wyoming, is leading the research for the study. Porter said she is interested in social change that addresses health disparities in communities of color.

“It’s a national issue to some degree, but not on the scale that we’re seeing in this data for Wind River,” Porter said. “We have plenty of food in the United States and around the world to feed everyone; enough good food to eat. We just choose not to distribute it that way.”

Porter said the Growing Resilience program provides information on maintaining a garden and financial support for the proper tools.

Nohemi M. Moore