2022 Indigenous Communities Fellowship


Indigenous Ecological Knowledge & First Foods

We combat Indigenous food insecurity by providing free traditional foods and food justice education to Natives living in rural and urban spaces.

Team Lead

Brooke Rodriguez

Solution Pitch

The Problem

Food insecurity has always disproportionately affected colonized peoples. During the Covid-19 pandemic, 54% of Indigenous people said they couldn't afford to eat balanced meals, 48% couldn't maintain their food stock, 37% cut down or skipped meals, and 34% ate less because they could not afford to buy new food.

The Solution

Indigenous Ecological Knowledge & First Foods aims to increase Indigenous food knowledge, access, and stewardship in order to solve food insecurity in Indian country. Three branches of action comprise this solution:

  • The New Day for Old Ways educational series has included over two years of online classes and podcasts taught by members of diverse Indigenous communities. Classes are documented and archived for digital access. The virtual meeting space in Gather.Town allows guests to interact with these educational resources from anywhere.

  • Inter-Tribal Food Pantry; a mutual aid initiative that brings Indigenous food producers and Native communities closer to provide culturally-accessible food products. These partnerships have successfully provided over 7,000 lbs of food―including bison, oysters, and hominy. This program also operates the largest searchable digital database of Native producers.

  • Stewards program aims to re-create Indigenous agro-biospheres.


  • Over 7000 lbs of food have been distributed by the solution

  • Approximately 7000 individuals are users of the solution’s food pantries

  • The online element of the solution has an estimated viewership of two to three thousand people

Market Opportunity

The organization has two bases of operation– Colorado and New York. These sites represent the embodiment of attempted cultural genocide, with forced removal of many tribes leading to a loss of cultural knowledge around foraging, food access, and food preparation. It is here that Indigenous Ecological Knowledge & First Foods can make an immediate and culturally sensitive impact.

Organization Highlights

Current Partners:

  • Tiyopsaye Wiyan Maka - Fundraising event & awareness campaign in Colorado for 2023

  • Shinnecock Cultural Resource Dept - Steward's Program classes on transplanting traditional plants with youth

  • American Indian Academy of Denver - Native Kids trip to a buffalo ranch/historic buffalo jump

  • Denver Indian Center - Office space/classroom rental for the Colorado Urban Indian Community

  • Native BioData Consortium - Discussing future prospects to research record plant seed genome (data banking, seed storage, gene profiling & crop salvageing)

  • Wild Flower Gardens / Newtown Creek Alliance - Hosting larger classroom venues in NYC

  • New York Women's Center & Queens Public Library - Potential co-partnerships are being discussed for 2023-2024

Partnership Goals

Indigenous Ecological Knowledge & First Foods seeks:

  • HR support with: Insurance, Benefits & Hires, Finance Structuring

  • Database Management

  • Partnering with delivery services with low carbon impact for transportation of foods. 

  • Fundraising & Event Awareness

  • Generating non-for-profit revenue outside of grants.

  • Developing a better user interface and experience with gather.town and website. 

  • Increasing views and amplifying engagement with content.

Organization Type: Nonprofit

Headquarters: New York City, New York

Stage: Growth

Working In: United States

Current Employees: 5

Solution Website: www.gscollective.org

Solution Team:

  • Alex Cruz Communications Manager│Grinding Stone Collective, Grinding Stone Collective
  • Brooke Rodriguez Director / Founder , Grinding Stone Collective

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