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  • Writer's pictureHarmony Coop

Harmony Celebrates Native American Heritage Month

Updated: Nov 2, 2021

As a locally owned cooperative we celebrate the cultures that shape who we are as a community, particularly local food systems, ways of sustainable living, and respect for the land and water. Harmony Co-op recognizes that Bemidji sits within Ojibwe territory, and is working to support Indigenous nations, communities, and cultures in ways beyond signage year round; since November is National Native American Heritage Month, we feel it is particularly important to highlight their importance to Harmony and to the larger Bemidji community. Our Ojibwe Language Project works alongside greater community endeavors to revitalize and maintain the Ojibwe language for future generations of Ojibwe people as well as raise awareness of language loss and revitalization efforts; additionally, we offer local products from Native American-owned businesses, such as Red Lake Nation Foods, Red Lake Nation Fishery, and the Gitigaanike Initiative.

The Red Lake Nation Foods Gitigaanike Initiative was created with the goals to decrease diet-related health issues, increase access to local healthy foods and develop a local foods economy incorporating community beliefs and attitudes about contemporary and traditional foods. "We are dedicated to training new farmers every year, so through our Farmer-Trainee program we develop new farmers & pass on knowledge about growing. Second year trainees are given their own plot at our Farm Incubator to test the ropes of farming & produce their own products, what interests them most."

Red Lake Nation Foods is wholly owned and operated by the Red Lake Band. Their mission is to offer unique, specialty natural foods and gift products which represent their cultural heritage for the benefit of over 9600 members of the Red Lake Nation. Harmony Co-op proudly carries their wild rice and wild rice flour, as well as a selection of locally-harvested jams and syrups.

Red Lake Nation Fishery is owned and operated by the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe. Their fish products are wild caught by tribal fishermen, who use the wisdom from our elders to harvest in a sustainable manner. They understand the benefits of natural foods, and include that value into the preparation of the fillets, each one done by hand.

We originally began providing Ojibwe language signage across the store labeling indigenous foods. These indigenous foods have historically been important staples of indigenous nations and continue to be important staples of not only native communities, but settler communities as well. Our Ojibwe Language Project encompasses traditional North American foods (like turkey, cranberries, and blueberries, all native to the New World) as well as contemporary foods like spaghetti and pizza. In addition to the labeling of native foods, plans are under way to expand the inclusion of Ojibwe language in other aspects of the workings of Harmony Co-op including store signage, community and staff education, and possible future activities this project may bring on. In order to continue supporting the work of Ojibwe language revitalization in our region, Harmony will deepen our own engagement with the language by introducing Ojibwe sentences about the food, land, and water upon which we all depend.

On Friday, November 26th, Harmony Co-op will host our annual “Buy Local, Give Local” event that will generate donations for 2 local non-profits (White Earth Land Recovery Project & Gitigaanike Foods Initiative). The day will feature free coffee, cider, and treats along with 10% off at the registers from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. The mission of the White Earth Land Recovery Project is to facilitate the recovery of the original land base of the White Earth Indian Reservation while preserving and restoring traditional practices of sound land stewardship, language fluency, community development, and strengthening our spiritual and cultural heritage. You can make a difference (and SAVE MONEY) by shopping at Harmony Co-op this November 26th 2021!

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