Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Through an Indigenous lens, Food security is Food sovereignty: Case studies of Maori of Aotearoa and Quechua people of Peru.

Presented by Mariaelena Huambachano

Mariaelena Huambachano will present findings from a comparative longitudinal study of food security, food sovereignty and the relationships between them through an Indigenous lens. She focuses on the ‘good living principles’ of Indigenous Peoples of Peru (Allin Kawsay) and New Zealand (Mauri Ora) as key to understanding possibilities for improving food security policies. Mariaelena guides her research by the development of an innovative Indigenous research framework referred to as the ‘Khipu’ model. Her case studies are based on in-depth semi-structured interviews, workshops and talking circle sessions with Māori Kaumatua/Elders, business leaders and academics in North Island, New Zealand, and similarly in the Peruvian Andes. Based on the findings, this study highlights that underpinning Quechua and Māori food security systems are a core set of cultural values. These case studies demonstrate how Māori and Quechua peoples’ resilience in food security/sovereignty stems from their good living principles. Such principles emphasises cultural identity, revitalisation of small-scale farmers and sustainability practices that value community participation, self-sufficiency and empowerment. She will argue that new and innovative approaches to food security are needed, ones that value the contribution of Indigenous peoples’ good living philosophies in agricultural systems. Importantly, the major contribution of this study is an innovative food security framework that includes and affirms that, from an Indigenous perspective, food security is food sovereignty.

Defining and Enacting Food Sovereignty in American Indian Community Gardening

Presented by Elizabeth Hoover

As the impetus to produce local and traditional food has grown in indigenous and peasant communities around the world, scholars and food activists have been building on definitions of “food sovereignty.” But what does this term mean on the ground for Native American harvesters and food producers, and to what extent is it useful in promoting their work? Building on a decade of work in Native American community gardens, Professor Hoover drove 20,000 miles around the United States during the summer of 2014 to 41 different Native American farming and gardening projects to ask participants how they define food sovereignty in their own communities. This presentation will discuss the range in answers—exploring individual, family and tribal roles in defining and enacting food sovereignty—and examining how this range in definition can contribute to the overall discussion around food sovereignty as a concept.


Mariaelena Huambachano is a Presidential Postdoctoral Diversity Fellow brought to Brown through a joint-venture of the Native and Indigenous Studies initiative, the CSREA, and the American Studies department. Originally from Peru and a New Zealand citizen, she earned her doctorate in the Department of Management and International Business at the University of Auckland, specializing in good living philosophies, food security and food sovereignty in indigenous New Zealand and Peruvian contexts. She is also a specialist in comparative indignities and indigenous methodologies.

Elizabeth Hoover is Manning Assistant Professor of American Studies, and teaches courses on environmental health and justice in Native communities, indigenous food movements, and community engaged research. Elizabeth’s second book project “From ‘Garden Warriors’ to ‘Good Seeds;’ Indigenizing the Local Food Movement” explores Native American farming and gardening projects around the country: the successes and challenges faced by these organizations, the ways in which participants define and envision concepts like food sovereignty, and importance of heritage seeds.