Research Methods, Findings, and Recommendations

7 Findings

Stevie D. Jonathan

Interviews and online surveys were conducted. Overall, we had responses from sixty-two participants who identified as Haudenosaunee people living in or outside of Six Nations of the Grand River. For the interviews, Haudenosaunee people who have experience with Indigenous foods, planting, seed keeping, and food sovereignty were selected. Hoover (2017) used a similar participant sampling approach, where local food sovereignty practitioners were specifically selected. These practitioners included Indigenous gardeners, farmers, ranchers, seed savers, fishermen, foragers, hunters, community organizers, educators, and chefs (Hoover, 2017). For the online survey, the only selection criteria included those who identify as Haudenosaunee people. Interviews were conducted with nine participants while survey responses were received from fifty-three participants. The date of these research tools is included, below.

Survey Responses

Question Results 
  1. What does food sovereignty mean to you?
  • Participants were asked to define what Indigenous food sovereignty meant to them. The following terms were prevalent in their responses:
    • food sovereignty
    • knowledge
    • community
    • sharing
    • self-determination
    • access to traditional foods
    • co-existence with the natural world
    • connection to culture
    • health
    • food systems
2. Do you use Indigenous foods in your life?
  • 9% of participants reported they rarely use Indigenous foods in their life
    • some of these participants cited a lack of access to traditional foods as a barrier to using them more frequently
  • 11% of participants reported they frequently use Indigenous foods in their life
  • 79% of participants reported they sometimes use Indigenous foods in their life
3. How do you use Indigenous foods (e.g., planting, cooking, sharing)?
  • 85% of participants use Indigenous food in cooking and/or food preservation
  • 77% of participants plant and harvest Indigenous foods
  • 68% of participants share Indigenous foods and/or knowledge about food
  • 23% of participants participate in seed exchanges and/or trade food
  • 15% of participants mentioned their use of Indigenous foods in relation to ceremony
  • 2% of participants use Indigenous foods for other means like creating corn husk dolls, as an example
4. What would you like to learn about Indigenous foods (e.g., planting, cooking, sharing)?
  • 55% of participants said planting and/or harvesting
  • 53% of participants said cooking and/or preserving foods
  • 38% of participants said types of Indigenous foods
  • 8% of participants said other subjects related to Indigenous foods such as composting, the connection to culture, health benefits, and language
  • 6% of participants said how to share foods and knowledge
  • 6% of participants said food and plant identification
  • 6% of participants said nutritional information

Interview Responses

Responses marked with * were highly prevalent in the interviews.

Questions Results  Further Findings
1. What are your favorite traditional foods?
  • corn mush
  • beans & potatoes
  • corn soup*
  • fiddleheads
  • puffballs
  • wild meats
  • garden foods
  • three sisters’ soup
  • lyed corn with berries
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • maple syrup
  • strawberry juice
  • ham & scone (note: this participant was not entirely sure what was considered an Indigenous food)
  • Access to Indigenous foods is needed, and the knowledge to prepare foods at home, because some are more difficult to prepare.*
  • Community supports are evident (e.g., local farmers support longhouses).
2. How do you use traditional Haudenosaunee food in your daily life?
  • tap trees to make syrup
  • strawberry juice*
  • foraging
  • medicine
  • nutrition and spiritual well-being
  • cooking*
  • canning
  • planting*
  • hunting and fishing*
  • trading
  • would like to do more cooking with indigenous foods at home
  • front line care as a dietician, leadership in health promotions
  • learning from family and teaching other family members
  • struggle with relationship to food because family became disconnected from traditional foods and practices
  • planting large crops of white corn, which gets turned into lyed corn for sale in the community and given to the longhouses for use
  • More awareness of the importance of food has been brought out by the pandemic.
  • Many of the participants expressed a desire for education and leadership promoting knowledge transfer and practice, including translating knowledge into practical ways for all peoples (both non-Indigenous and Indigenous). This could be done through workshops, courses, or programs for community to learn and be supported in their food sovereignty efforts.
3. Why is food important to Haudenosaunee peoples?
  • being able to support ourselves
  • supporting self-sufficiency
  • brings people together
  • health benefits*
  • knowledge of what is in the things we’re eating*
  • connection to culture & identity*
  • keeping food varieties alive for future generations
  • Many of the participants discussed the connection between traditional foods and food practices and identity, knowledge, and culture, starting with the Creation Story.
4. What does food sovereignty mean to you?
  • coming together as a community to support one another*
  • food security in the Six Nations community*
  • having the food itself but also ways to process, preserve, and share it*
  • a right as a Haudenosaunee person
  • need to define this concept and share knowledge on it
  • Haudenosaunee food varieties are unique and must be sustained
  • Food sovereignty and community sharing are inseparable concepts.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that the Six Nations community is not food secure, therefore, food sovereignty is even more important now.
5. Why is food sovereignty important?
  • community supporting one another*
  • food security*
  • health benefits*
  • knowledge transmission & cultural maintenance*
  • sustaining our food systems
6. What advice can you give to others who don’t yet understand Haudenosaunee foods, their importance, and food sovereignty?
  • learn by trying and don’t give up and along the way; you’ll learn more*
  • utilize community resources
  • ask others for advice/help when needed
  • grow your own garden
  • share foods and knowledge with others/help others*
  • reflect on yourself and your relationship to food
  • learn how to become sustainable and learn your language. learn as much as you can do what you can
  • sit down with someone like an elder and just listen to learn as much as you can; educate yourself as much as you can
  • One of the concepts that came up during this question was the interwoven relationships between intergenerational knowledge transmission and relationship to food and health and the connection to identity and culture.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Exploring Indigenous Foods & Food Sovereignty Copyright © by Stevie D. Jonathan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book