MINNEAPOLIS — August 03, 2023 — Minneapolis non-profit North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NATIFS) announces ethnobotanist and food sovereignty activist Linda Black Elk has joined as educational programming and community engagement leader. Black Elk was previously food sovereignty coordinator at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, ND, and is widely published on the topic of food sovereignty.

Black Elk will lead educational program development and strategic planning as well as supervise and support the education and community engagement team. She will oversee curriculum planning and development for the Indigenous Food Lab professional Indigenous kitchen and training center, studio kitchen and classroom, and develop and lead community engagement activities and programs.

“I am overjoyed to be joining the NATIFS team— I feel much of my work over 25 years in Indigenous education has led to this. My life’s work is all about access. For generations, colonial systems have campaigned to label Indigenous foods and medicines as ‘unsafe’ or ‘ineffective.’ I’ve seen important Indigenous foods mistakenly described as ‘toxic,’ and this misinformation has led to a real fear of the natural world. I believe this fear campaign is completely intentional, because colonial systems don’t make money off of food and medicine that we grow, gather, prepare and preserve ourselves,” said Linda Black Elk. “Through my work at NATIFS, I hope to pass on knowledge to alleviate these fears through education and outreach by providing fun, informative, and easy-to-understand resources for community members.”

“We’re so proud to have scholar, teacher, and activist Linda Black Elk  in this essential role at NATIFS,” said Sean Sherman, the organization’s founder. “Black Elk has spent decades researching Indigenous foodways and disseminating the wisdom of those who first developed the use of native plants both as sustenance and as medicine. Her understanding of the respectful attitude our ancestors had towards the natural world and her approach to teaching the connection between this attitude, the foods they ate, and the positive health outcomes they enjoyed will help the food sovereignty message resonate in the modern world and advance a cause that will benefit everyone.”

Black Elk teaches on every facet of the Indigenous relationship with plants and the natural environment, from the principles of food sovereignty to foraging techniques, plant identification, and methods of preparation and preservation. She also serves on the governing council of the nonprofit Makoce Ikikcupi, a Reparative Justice project on Dakota land in Minisota Makoce (Minnesota).

North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NATIFS), founded by Chef Sean Sherman, and its Indigenous Food Lab and IFL Market, a professional Indigenous kitchen, training center, retail space and counter service eatery, are dedicated to addressing economic and health crises affecting Native communities by re-establishing Indigenous foodways, imagining a new North American food system that generates wealth and improves health in Native communities through food-related enterprises. For more, visit natifs.org.