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News Release

Cal State Humboldt - Native American Studies

We are excited to announce that the Native American Studies Rou Dalagurr Food Sovereignty Lab and Traditional Ecological Knowledges Institute (FSL) has received an exterior space allocation at Cal Poly Humboldt following a recommendation by the ​​University Space and Facilities Advisory Committee (USFAC) and approval by President Jackson on July 6th, 2022 — a historic and transformative formal exterior space allocation. The Food Sovereignty Lab and Traditional Ecological Knowledges Institute Exterior Space has arisen thanks to the actions and resilience of the Lab’s faculty, staff, students, community, and partners. Since the envisioning and realization of the interior space of BSS 168 as the student-led, Indigenous community-facing Food Sovereignty Lab, a Native Plant Landscape and exterior space has been conceived as a critical element to our Institute. The exterior space surrounds the Behavioral and Social Sciences Building (BSS), and extends down to General Parking Lot 15 on Cal Poly Humboldt’s campus — this includes open areas and a redwood woodland. We are so grateful for the continuing and vocal support of the Wiyot Tribe to the Food Sovereignty Lab, including their representation on the Steering Committee and ongoing commitment, including the Wiyot Tribe Natural Resources Department’s letter of support submitted to University Space and Facilities Advisory Committee regarding the request for an external space allocation. It is the driving goal of the Lab to be a space of collaboration and mutual support between Cal Poly Humboldt and the tribal community — the exterior space allocation enables us to further realize this goal. 

In defining relationship with campus landscape and partner entities, the Food Sovereignty Lab and Traditional Ecological Knowledges Institute has worked with the Landscape and Tree Subcommittee to University Space and Facilities Advisory Committee to develop a ‘Shared Maintenance and Co-Management Agreement’. This agreement inscribes our shared commitments to caring for the space, entering into a relationship with the landscape, its more-than-human inhabitants, and partners to return tribal community access and sovereignty to landscape. Tribal knowledges, collaboration, and cultural stewardship practices are emphasized in this agreement, facilitated primarily through the Steering Committee of the Food Sovereignty Lab and Traditional Ecological Knowledges Institute, which has representation by regional tribes and tribal organizations, as well as students and alumni of Cal Poly Humboldt and Department/Program partners. We also hope that this agreement serves as a forward-looking model for other higher institutions looking to collaborate with Indigenous scholars and communities on similar endeavors, increasing Indigenous communities’ access to their aboriginal territories and landscapes, and supporting Indigenous self-determination and sovereignty over those territories and landscapes through co-management agreements. 

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Originally, the Behavioral and Social Sciences Building building was designed to include campus and community-facing spaces for basket weaving, regalia making, cooking using traditional methods, and traditional arts. The Food Sovereignty Lab and Traditional Ecological Knowledges Institute chose the location of the BSS 168 in consideration that the BSS building was originally designed to honor Native peoples and create space for Indigenous programs on campus. We envision a continuity of Indigenous space near the Native Forum, Goudi'ni Gallery and NAS Department, integrating educational opportunities outside of the Behavioral and Social Sciences Building building as part of a Native Plant Landscape that is connected to and cared for by the FSL — an extension of the classroom space focused on learning Indigenous sciences through land-based pedagogies. This includes the revitalization of the area originally designated to be a salmon cooking pit, and the design of a Native Plant Landscape that incorporates Native artwork patterns and local Native Languages, and the Indigenous Garden. The Food Sovereignty Lab and Traditional Ecological Knowledges Institute’s exterior space has the core objectives of supporting food sovereignty and community engagement with traditional foods and management practices. As the FSL enters into relationship with this landscape, we are building stewardship and Rou Dalagurr in a generational lens. 

The Rou Dalagurr Food Sovereignty Lab and Traditional Ecological Knowledges Institute, which broke ground on October 8th, 2021 following a student-led effort which raised over $250,000, is dedicated to the learning, research, hands-on practice and preservation of food sovereignty and Traditional Ecological Knowledges. The purpose of the FSL is to provide an opportunity to work directly with the surrounding communities, tribal nations, and national and international scholars and community leaders to center, learn, and engage with Indigenous science, environmental management, and preservation practices. The Lab is dedicated to building national and international connections that foreground Indigenous voices in rigorous academic research, publications and community-centered programming, connecting youth to higher education, policy development, economic development, and climate resiliency.

The Food Sovereignty Lab is a space to facilitate research, but we are not doing this without Indigenous input that foregrounds Tribal autonomy and self-determination. This lab is about ensuring Indigenous sovereignty is upheld, and that Indigenous communities maintain self-determination over how their knowledges are approached, researched, engaged with, represented, and managed. Community voice and representation is prioritized in this lab. Indigenous knowledge is not a monolith, and traditional ecological knowledges are specific to each originating community- these knowledges are localized and place-specific. As such, they need to be housed and represented with and by those communities. Our lab includes a Steering Committee which has representatives appointed by each of the tribal nations in Humboldt/Del Norte Counties. In addition, we have student representatives and representatives from Food Sovereignty focused tribal organizations. This Steering Committee reviews lab policies and procedures, and provides feedback on projects and programs. The Steering Committee is also working to provide insight and partnership building with other organizations, institutes, institutions and businesses interested in engaging with Food Sovereignty and TEK. The Lab publishes bi-annual reports that are publicly available and include information about budget; operations; program and project updates.

Sign up for our Newsletter, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram for future updates and opportunities for community engagement at the Lab! Donate to the Food Sovereignty Lab and Traditional Ecological Knowledges Institute to support the development of the exterior space, as well as our other initiatives. You can also read our most recent FSL Summer 2022 Report. Stay tuned for our official opening in Fall 2022!

Cal Poly Humboldt - Native American Studies