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Growing in self-sufficiency

Learning Indigenous lifeways

Culturally Harvesting for Our Future

Beyond the pandemic- creating food sovereignty

The reservations in South Dakota are some of the

most impoverished communities in the nation. The isolated locations of the reservations, lack of adequate health care and the high unemployment rates make for a dangerous combination when facing a pandemic such as Covid 19 in 2020.


Our communities can be better prepared in times of crisis by aggressively pursuing economic development along side a disaster plan which includes a future pandemic. Because of their remote locations, reservation communities need to teach gathering and preservation of traditional foods and medicine.


This program was created to meet the immediate crisis needs of the Covid 19 pandemic as well as prepare our community for long term food sovereignty. We serve women and youth from both the Crow Creek and the Lower Brule Reservations.


Pathfinder Center has a "Cultural Navigator" on staff who is responsible for this program. She teaches the Indigenous way of gathering, harvesting and preserving natural foods and helps transport community members to the food gathering and preparation activities.


We distribute printed material outlining natural food sources that can be gathered and what time of the year to do the gathering and including instructions for preparing each food item.

What we teach

  • How to sustainably gather natural foods

  • How and where to pick berries, plums, turnips, teas, sweet corn and medicines

  • How to can and preserve foods

  • How to dry meats, sweet corn, teas, sage, sweetgrass and other foods

  • How to make healing balms, syrups and other natural healing remedies

  • How to use the foods we harvest and preserve in  yummy recipes

  • How to use essential oils 



  • To lower the food anxieties of our community members, many of whom run out of food at the end of each month.

  • To help develop a “I can do this” attitude in the women and youth, encouraging the growth of self-sufficiency.

  • To teach each them the ability to identify food sources from traditional plants and the skills to harvest, preserve and prepare these foods and healing teas and ointments. 

  • To instill within the participants the knowledge that harvesting, preparing and preserving food and medication from traditional sources creates relaxation and preserves culture.

  • To provide a safe social distancing outdoor learning group outlet for community members who suffered from the restrictions and isolation resulting from Covid 19.

  • To provide an opportunity to share a life time of knowledge that participants can pass on to future generations.


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