Community Events

Annual Nevada Tribal Food Summit teaches food sovereignty

Event takes place at University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe for the first time

A hoop house constructed at the Pyramid Lake Paiute Reservation helps provide fresh foods to residents there. Methods to increase tribal food sovereignty are part of the annual Nevada Tribal Food Summit, May 31 – June 2 at the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe.

RENO, Nev. – Advice and resources to help American Indian tribes grow and consume their own food is the focus of the 11th annual Nevada Tribal Food Summit, May 31 to June 2. The summit will be taking place for the first time at the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe.

The food summit is sponsored by Extension, a unit of the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources, and its American Indian Programs.

“Helping our tribal partners, especially in remote places, to have more access to healthy food and food security continues to be a priority for Extension and our College,” said Jacob DeDecker, Extension director and associate dean for engagement. “This annual summit supplements the programming that we do for those purposes year-round.”


Speakers at the summit all have a tie to growing local food and working within local food systems and food sovereignty projects. Staci Emm, professor and Extension educator in Mineral County, said that food sovereignty, creating a community system to grow and distribute food through sustainable methods, is the running thread that binds the entire event.
“Another important facet is the use of whole or traditional foods, such as medicinal plants, and how their use can impact the entire world,” Emm said. “We emphasize the health of tribal members first and foremost.”

Among the subjects that are being covered during the food summit are:

  • How to develop food sovereignty policies
  • Ways to involve young people in food sovereignty programs
  • An overview of food science
  • Nevada tribal traditional and medicinal plant growing
  • Starting a tribal-centered farmers market
  • Grants and contracting for federal food programs
  • The National Tribal Food Center Hub

Along with Emm, some other speakers at the event will include:

  • Serrel Smokey, chairperson, Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California
  • Amber Torres, former Walker River Paiute Tribal chairperson
  • Keir Johnson, technical assistance director, Intertribal Agriculture Council
  • Josiah Griffin, policy advisor, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Tribal Relations
  • Michelle Fox, attorney and Fort Belknap tribal member, Big Fire Law and Policy Group of Omaha

There will also be a presentation on the University’s Desert Farming Initiative food sovereignty project from the University’s Tribal Students Program. In addition, there will be a trio of Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program reservation agents: Reggie Premo, Nikwich Wright and Mandy Glazier.

Lunch is provided all three days, while breakfast is provided on June 1 and 2. There will be a dinner on May 31, and June 1 features the event’s annual potluck and cook-off at day’s end.

One important aspect of the summit is that the University’s Lake Tahoe site is on traditional land.

“We are honored to play host to this meaningful program,” said Jill S. Heaton, senior vice provost of the University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe. “The summit will advance tribal food sovereignty priorities that will impact generations to come.”

Paid for in part from U.S. Department of Agriculture grants, there are a limited number of USDA scholarships, with dorm room accommodations, that are available for tribal members who want to attend the food summit.

For more details on the event, register online or contact Vicki Hebb, business operations director for Extension in Mineral County, at 605-222-2062 or Persons in need of special accommodations or assistance should contact Paul Lessick, civil rights and compliance coordinator, at or 702-257-5577 at least five days prior to the scheduled event with their needs or for more information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *