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The HSU Native American Studies Food Sovereignty Lab and Cultural Workspace project has received an award for $80,000 from Humboldt Energy Independence Fund. In Spring 2020, students working on the project submitted an idea paper to HEIF to apply for funds to begin remodeling the lab space.

The Food Sovereignty Lab will sit adjacent to the Native Forum and Goudin’i Gallery in the Behavioral and Social Sciences building in the former Hilltop Marketplace. The lab will function as a workshop and research center for practicing and centering indigenous food sovereignty through indigenous pedagogies, the location of the lab as part of Native American Studies program at Humboldt State, and respect for indigenous cultures such as the Wiyot and surrounding peoples of Humboldt Bay. This space will help to strengthen the bond between the local community, indigenous nations, and students at HSU by providing space which can support basket weaving, food preparation and regalia making while subsequently supporting curriculum for the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and the College of Natural Resources and Sciences.

HEIF is a concept championed by students whereby student fee money collects into a fund that is then available for sustainability projects on the Humboldt State University campus. The mission of HEIF is to create a more sustainable campus by promoting energy independence. Goals of HEIF that align with the Food Sovereignty Lab include: “HEIF will achieve its mission through projects that are developed by students and, to the extent possible, implemented, monitored and maintained with strong student involvement” and “HEIF will strive to make its projects derive from and be connected to the curriculum of the university.”

The Food Sovereignty Lab and Cultural Workspace is a concept also championed by students. Conceived by students in NAS 331: Indigenous Natural Resource Management, where students represented 12 different majors from both the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Natural Resources and Sciences. Students envisioned a space where cultural representation can be address and cultural revitalization of local foods and knowledge can occur with meaningful tribal and community collaboration.

Dr. Cutcha Risling Baldy (Hupa, Karuk, Yurok) is the Director of the Lab and Dr. Kaitlin Reed (Yurok, Hupa, Oneida) is the Assistant Director. The lab is also supported by a robust steering committee with representatives from several local area tribes, tribal organizations and students.

Nayre Herrera, a student voting member of the HEIF Committee, put forth the motion in HEIF’s committee meeting Oct. 26 to contribute funding for the Lab in the amount of $80,000.

“We are continuing with putting together further fundraising materials. The sooner we can reach our $250,000 goal the sooner we can get started on the remodel,” said Cutcha Risling Baldy.

“Because this funding request was championed by a student, was lobbied by student committee members during voting discussion, and then voting was driven by a student motion and approved with significant student support, it’s exciting to see our youth community continue to lead the way and speak out about what they think are meaningful investments for HEIF. In addition, this student leadership directly honors one of the original intentions of HEIF, which is that it would persist as a student driven initiative. Furthermore, while projects funded by HEIF have changed in scope over the last decade to include concepts that go beyond exclusively energy generation, supporting a design for this Lab that maintains LEED Gold Building standards, selects the most cutting-edge energy efficient equipment, and that has important social and economic impacts seems to be enormously innovative and forward thinking,” said Katie Koscielak, sustainability analysis at HSU and non-voting member of HEIF Committee.

Facilities Management estimates the cost of remodeling the former Hilltop Marketplace into a cutting- edge research and workspace facility to be $250,000. NAS and the Lab Steering Committee are launching a robust fundraising campaign to cover the cost of the remodel.

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