Residents, merchants and community leaders in America’s low-density neighborhoods and municipalities, once treated as areas with low economic strength by European scholars and the settler state, are working to court ‘urban Indian’ families with interest in relocating their art and urban farming movements to communities that have endured ‘poor,’ and often time sub-standard, economic conditions for generations. The soil is the cure for the socio-economic trauma that tribal families have sustained in some form long before Pope Nicholas V’s papal bull Dum Diversas (c. 1452) made civilizing the ‘savage’ into the sport of capital driven self-proclaimed kings and queens (Isabel and Ferdinand).
This relationship between the old world and the new ‘age of discovery’ permeated through urban design ‘innovations,’ from Sir Walter Raleigh’s Irish plantation system to Eli Whitney’s cotton gin and the subsequent industrial revolution. When the modern socio-political world speaks of ‘gentri-fication’ in academia and media, they speak the language of a continued legacy that underlines failed policy and practice that chooses not to acknowledging the intrinsic value of indigenous communities as formative in the development of European American narratives of American ‘development.’ It is the wealth and abundance of pre-colonial (pre-‘gentrified’) spaces that continues to peak the interest of explorers; the music, food and culture of modern urban Indian communities in America, to date, is the source of ‘value’ that peaks the interest of the young ‘gentry,’ not the other way around.
American society is well beyond ‘the verge’ of a modern movement to return energy to the pre-colonial work of building food forests to restore soil conditions that have been eroded from generations of Mesoamerican and subsequent European farming practices. Long before the Spanish Empire set sail with maps and stories of riches, the poor farming practices of cash crop capitalism, and the subsequent destruction of old-Indian land, language and culture, began to shift the well planned landscapes for tribal communities in North America (east of the Mississippi). Now is the time for indigenous youth to take to the task of preserving ancient American cultural sites, with great spiritual significance, for use as well as site interpretation beyond eco-tourism. Activism must come to the policy table to avoid future generations of pollution and environmental destruction, that has been normalized by colonial education & engineering systems.
Our work in 2019 shaped many of the conversations we are continuing in 2020 and beyond locally, nationally and around the world. Since March we have been working with farmers & local institutions as a means to broker greater access to urban farming and, when that’s not possible, farm fresh produce from the immediate regional community. Starting on fathers day this year, June 21st, we began a fresh farm box for the immediate community in Germantown. Over time, we have plans to build community consensus around a produce and bulk grain buying club that will allow for our neighbors pantries to remain stocked. We are calling this project Germantown Grocer!