Renata Birkenbuel joins Civil Eats as an Indigenous Foodways Reporter

Civil Eats is pleased to introduce our 2022-2023 Indigenous Fellow, veteran journalist Renata Birkenbuel, a member of the Montana Little Shell Chippewa Tribe. This is the second year of the fellowship, designed to help a journalist deepen their reporting skills and voice, receive mentorship in reporting on food systems, and publish a strong portfolio of work. This year’s scholarship is funded by a generous grant from the First Nations Development Institute. Birkenbuel follows Andi Murphy in this role.

Birkenbuel began her newspaper career as a daily sports editor, but eventually became an education and business journalist who also covered food co-operatives, food banks and food security, sometimes linked to other social issues, as well as unions, health care, the arts and pay equity.

Based in Missoula, she mentors young writers as an assistant professor of writing at the university. She also spent time working as an editor at Prairie Populistan online-only advocacy conservation publication covering stories of agriculture and sustainability on the ground in Montana missed by the mainstream press.

Birkenbuel specializes in feature films, thrives on telling human interest stories and connecting for readers.

She worked as a contract journalist for Newsweek and Missoula Current. From 2013 to 2017, she was an education, business and reporting reporter for The Montana Standard in Butte, Montana. In the 14 years leading up to that, Birkenbuel contributed to the writing of Seattle weather and articles published in approximately 40 other North West publications.

She looks forward to diving into Civil Eats food systems work. “I look forward to diving headlong into food sovereignty issues and helping to put a human face on food security and Indigenous traditions,” she says. His mother and his mother’s siblings didn’t live long enough to see the Montana Little Shell Chippewa Tribe finally gain federally recognized status in 2019, but Birkenbuel is proud to be a registered member. “My mom was caught between two worlds, so as a storyteller, I’m ready to share my work and perspective on Indigenous eating habits by collaborating with the Civil Eats staff,” she says.

Nohemi M. Moore