Food is an integral part of community and gatherings. Food heals us, nourishes our bodies and souls, gives us a reason to gather, and is a vessel to pass down tradition and knowledge.
This November, for Native American Heritage Month, Running Strong will focus on traditional native foods, and the connection they offer to culture, and each other.
Noah Proctor, a 2023 Dreamstarter, understands the deep connection of traditional foods and community and has developed programs to feed their communities’ bodies and spirits.
The Piscataway Conoy tribe has been fighting to preserve their culture and heritage since European colonizers first settled on the land that would become America.
Once considered to be wholly lost, the tribe received Maryland state recognition only 11 years ago in 2012, a powerful testament to the work and dedication of community members to fight erasure and reestablish their community.
Noah Proctor (21), a young member of the Piscataway Conoy tribe, used his 2023 Dreamstarter grant to establish a community garden in hopes of connecting his people with their land, and traditional foods, and strengthening their community.
Community members gathered this past spring to plant traditional foods, and again this fall to harvest. The garden provided a large bounty of different types of tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, the three sisters (corn, squash, and beans), and many other vegetables.
Noah is proud that he can provide healthy foods to his community and help combat food insecurity. Still, he is most proud of creating a space for his community where traditional knowledge can be shared with younger generation through hands on gardening.
He hopes that his garden will empower his community, connect them with their heritage, and be a reminder of what can be accomplished. Noah demonstrates the importance of the Piscataway people gathering to understand their history, share traditional knowledge, promote their food sovereignty, and revitalize cultural practices so youth can proudly stand in their Piscataway identity.
Watch Noah speak about his garden here: indianyouth.org/2023-dreamstarter-noah-proctor/