Blog 5: Reflections
August 15, 2019

As I complete the final days of my summer internship, I’m still honestly amazed at all of the great things I was able to do this summer through this internship. When I first took the internship and traveled all the way to Texas for orientation, I didn’t really think it would be that much more than what I did last summer. After all, I was working for the Food Sovereignty Initiative like I did last summer.

But I am glad to say that I was actually wrong. This summer has been an even more rewarding and fulfilling experience than last year. Not only am I doing what I did before, but I am also taking part in historical and important events on and off my reservation.

As I did last year, I worked in the Keya Wakpala Garden, taking care of the various crops we are growing out there. Even this aspect of the job saw improvements, as we added a new high tunnel and a bunch of chickens. But because of my Ogallala Commons internship, I was able to do even more than this rewarding work.

I was also able to work in Food Sovereignty’s office. Helping post on the program’s social media pages, writing for a special radio show, and writing scripts for wild food harvesting videos. This alone was fun for me, as I was putting my brain to use in addition to my muscles. It was also really nice to have breaks from the hot South Dakota summers.

I’m also playing a part in helping the program put together a food system report on the reservation. This will measure our food system in quantity, quality, where it comes from, and how much we produce. I put together a community roundtable of citizens as well as conducted elder interviews.

Some of my favorite work has been our passion projects. REDCO’s CEO had us also start projects based on our passions. One of my passions is furthering Native American interest in the political sphere, so he put me on two projects related to this:

The first is introducing our tribe’s corporate code. We previously didn’t really have a code that protected a businesses’ investments and most importantly, consumers and workers. I’ve been reading through really dry corporate code that while being difficult, is still fun to me personally. I’ve also contacted our tribal college’s business department to help educate the council on why we need the code.

The second is helping put together the very first Native American Presidential Forum in Sioux City, Iowa. We have some major Democratic candidates like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Marianne Williamson. Not only have I been working on the forum before it happens, but I will be working at the actual event as well. I hope people can check it out. I’m excited to have Native voices heard by our leaders.

At orientation, I had three goals. The first was to get to know my coworkers on a personal level as well as a professional level. Just by being in the office over the summer, I have gotten to know many of the team members personally. The second goal was to take the lead on projects and assert myself. Every week we had team meetings where I helped key decisions. The third goal was to meet the leaders who are making decisions every day that affects our people. I was able to do this through my passion projects.

The Keya Wakpala Community Garden high tunnel
The Food Sovereignty office where I work