First Nations Development Institute receives $175,000 grant

Photo Courtesy: Adeolu Eletu

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FNDI awarded Otto Bremer Trust funding to Shift Native Food Economies in Minnesota and North Dakota

News Release

First Nations Development Institute

First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) has received a grant of $175,000 over two years from the Otto Bremer Trust.  First Nations will use the grant for its “Changing Native Food Economies in Minnesota and North Dakota” project.

Under the grant, First Nations will select and support three Native American programs in Minnesota and/or North Dakota to help them reclaim control of their community food systems as a means for creating strong, diverse and resilient Native economies. These Native groups (tribes, Native-controlled nonprofit organizations, or Native community groups) will build community connections and identify market opportunities that will, in the long term, reduce economic leakage from local food systems and, in so doing, strengthen tribal sovereignty. Selected groups will build on already-conducted community food assessments that identified related assets and set the stage for this work.

For its grassroots partners, First Nations will provide technical assistance and training that will build their capacity; financial resources that will allow them to undertake a community-driven, collaborative and participatory process that will examine the untapped economic potential of their local food system; and peer networking that will allow them to form a community of practice.

By triangulating food sources/production, food vendors, and consumer (institutional and individual) demand, partners will explore the issue of economic leakage related to the food economy, identify resources, and begin to build connections to local market opportunities – bolstering their communities economically, socially and culturally. Currently, due to a lack of local food purchasing outlets, millions of dollars in economic purchasing power cycle out of Native economies, benefiting border towns and distant communities instead of the Native communities themselves.

For Native communities, increasing control of the community food system provides opportunities to create jobs and small businesses, increases access to locally-produced and healthier foods, helps family food dollars go farther, and reinforces tribal food traditions.

"For Native food economies, entrepreneurs are a critical piece of the Native-controlled food system," noted A-dae Romero-Briones, First Nations' Director of Programs - Native Agriculture and Food Systems. "Creating spaces for the sale of foods in the community not only captures dollars for that community, but allows the community to multiply that dollar through recirculation. Indigenous communities have always been excellent at redistributing food, so this project is aimed at formalizing some of those existing channels into retail markets. This is a small but important part of food-system control."

About First Nations Development Institute

For 38 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities.  First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit

About the Otto Bremer Trust

The Otto Bremer Trust, based in St. Paul, Minn., is a private charitable trust established in 1944 by founder Otto Bremer, a successful banker and community business leader. OBT owns 92 percent of Bremer Bank and also manages a diversified investment portfolio. The mission of OBT is to invest in people, places and opportunities in the Upper Midwest. Since its inception, OBT has invested more than $600 million in organizations throughout Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin. Visit


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