Stefani Kim

Graduation Date


Subject Concentration


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


The Salt River Pima Indians, prior to colonization, had a strong tradition of harvesting and food sovereignity. As the tribe adapted to a more Westernized diet which consisted mainly of processed food rations, the rate of diabetes began to skyrocket on the reservation and, at one point, the tribe had one of the highest per capita diabetes rates in the world. This year, the tribe's cultural resources department will resurrect a 16-year-old community garden program originally funded by a USDA/Habitat for Humanity grant as a way to help combat health problems related to a poor diet such as diabetes and heart disease. The garden will include traditional Akimel O'odham foods like several variations of pima beans, corn and stick beans; there will also be classes to teach tribal members traditional farming techniques for their own gardens. Foods grown in the garden will be distributed to the community. Some of the seeds have never left the reservation and have only been grown on Salt River. With high unemployment and poverty endemic to the tribe, many people choose to whatever's cheapest and most convenient: fast food and other high-fat, processed items. It is also difficult to change people's entrenched eating habits, and many of the younger generation were not taught traditional growing techniques or did not eat traditional foods while growing up. Despite the obstacles, some community members keep small plots in their backyards and others have adapted to a healthier diet due to diabetes diagnosis.

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