DMA Camp: Dream of Wild Health

This story was produced during ThreeSixty Journalism’s 2020 Digital Media Arts Camp, in partnership with the Center for Prevention at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota  and Padilla. Health equity was the theme, with a focus on racism as a public health issue.

Compressed - Dream of Wild Health brochure - KENNEDY RANCE

“Kill the Indian in him and save the man” was U.S. Army Captain Richard Pratt’s motto. Pratt believed in stripping Native Americans of their tradition, to save them from being “savages.”

Pratt’s motto became a catalyst for The Trail of Tears, a series of forced migration, spanning from 1831-77, relocated around 60,000 Native Americans.

Native women, unable to carry anything sewed their indigenous heirloom seeds into their clothing, preserving their cultural heritage.

A century later, Dream of Wild Health germinates those indigenous heirloom seeds.

Dream of Wild Health, an intertribal nonprofit organization serving the Native American communities of the Twin Cities, grows and harvest indigenous heirloom seeds, gifted by indigenous seed keepers and farmers.

Its mission is to restore health and well-being in the Native community by recovering knowledge of and access to healthy Indigenous foods, medicines and lifestyles.

Dream of Wild Health poster - KENNEDY RANCE

According to Pew Research Center,  racism is a health crisis. Prior to COVID-19, Native American communities in the Twin Cities lived in food deserts.

“There’s always been a lack of indigenous foods” said Neely Synder, Dream of Wild Health executive director. “We’re working on restoring an indigenous relationship with the land.”

Dream of Wild Health is combating racism by leading several workshops in its community, educating youth on agriculture. Focusing on food sovereignty and the medicinal use of food.

Dream of Wild Health is decreasing health issues, promoting healthy lifestyles and cultivating essential relationships between the youth and the earth.

Dream of Wild health recently tripled the acreage of their farm in Hugo, Minnesota, in order to provide more food access to their community.

On the farm, youth learn the importance of prayer and gratitude.

“We may not be a part of a church but we have our practices and traditions that we carry forward,” Synder said.

Dream of Wild Health has also adapted to a virtual model, Including a cooking workshop led by Brain Yazzie.

As an American of Ghanaian and Nigerian descent, I practice and take pride in my cultural traditions.

Yes, my culture has been exploited and disenfranchised; but we as a people have transformed beauty from tragedy.

Read more stories from Digital Media Arts Camp!

I admire and respect Dream of Wild’s health mission to connect and maintain its traditions.

Not only is Dream of Wild Health an organization, it’s a movement. Reclaiming cultural traditions, narratives, and furthering the legacy of Indigenous and Native people for the next seven generations.