This summer, I did my first internship, working with Mike Prate at the Community Food Sovereignty Initiative with REDCO. We did all kinds of things, like run a garden, harvest wild foods and medicines, and the importance of food in our community. The thing I enjoyed most about this internship was going out and harvesting all out kinds of wild foods. I’ve always had a passion for the outdoors, and love hunting and fishing. This summer I found out I could eat a lot more stuff then deer and fish when I am outside. One of my favorite wild foods is the Gooseberry or Currant.They have such a succulent taste and go amazing with wild rice
One thing I dreaded was weeding the garden. I feel like Mike (my mentor) was making me do it as a punishment – I didn’t enjoy it at all! It is probably close to the most boring thing I have ever done. Other than that, waking up at 7 am everyday was difficult, especially during the summer, but I did love being able to work outside multiple hours a day.
During this internship I learned a lot about caring for a garden. I learned you have to weed the plants or the weeds will choke them and steal their nutrients. They need water everyday. They need love and affection. It’s just like caring for a small child. I learned all about the growing cycle – how to plant different plants, how long it will take them to mature, and when to pick them. I also developed a taste for vegetables! I never really ate anything but lettuce, carrots, or corn before this internship. I can now handle eating peppers and green beans – I eat a lot more vegetables these days. I always wanted to be an engineer because I love math and science, but this summer showed me that improving nature is better than building up cities.
This summer changed my whole perspective on myself. I thought gardening was something only women did. But I quickly realized the tribes 100+ years ago gardened, and they were the real deal warriors. So if warriors back in the day gardened, it was okay for me to. I quickly found out gardening is like therapy for me. Especially when I planted, just to have my hands in the soil made me feel good. Also realizing I am caring for another life made my mentality change, made me more passionate towards nature, and most importantly, made me a better relative.
I always saw the bad things about the Rez. Growing up I just wanted to hurry up and get out. I think this summer, I realized this is my home and I need to do whatever I can to make it better. It was really a humbling experience working in a garden. There is so much potential on this reservation. Everybody could start having their own gardens and start eating the real traditional foods.
I would do this internship again. But the next time I do it I would focus on not only teaching myself about traditional foods, but teaching my peers, possibly even my community. It would be a dream come true to see my people no longer suffering from diabetes. I have lost a lot of relatives to it. All it would take is to teach people how to eat right, get back into our traditional diet
I would recommend this internship to some of my friends cause it truly is a humbling experience.