TNAFA’s mission is to revitalize traditional agriculture for spiritual and human need, by creating awareness and support for Native environmental issues.
The Traditional Native American Farmers Association (TNAFA) was formed in 1992, an
outcome of an intertribal meeting of native farmers and elders, representing 72 farming
families from 17 different native communities both here in Arizona and New Mexico.
Our mission statement is to “revitalize traditional agriculture for spiritual and human
need.” Since our inception, TNAFA has been developing educational programs for
native farmers to address these needs.
At the very first intertribal meeting held in Gallup, New Mexico, elder farmers expressed
great concern for the genetic seed loss our agricultural communities were witnessing
and the perceived lack of interest in the youth in farming. TNAFA continues designing
and developing educational programs to address these concerns. “The control and
access to good, healthy, ecologically and culturally appropriate seeds are critical to the
foundation for our peoples, communities and nations. Having these seeds is the very
first step in any food and fiber production system. Seeds are the first link in the food
chain, and the embodiment of biological and cultural diversity.” 1 Since our formation,
we are active in the preservation and conservation of these traditional and heirloom
seeds. In some cases we have been able to stabilize seed loss. “The cultural and
religious significance of the plant, its gastronomic values, drought, disease and pest
resistance properties, and other values shape the knowledge that the community
accords to the seed and the plant it produces.” 2
Agriculture has always been the bases of our communities’ culture and economy. Through various socioeconomic pressures, native agriculture has been in a downward cycle. In the past few years there has been an increased interest in agriculture in our communities, as a way to regenerate our culture, health and economics. Most programs have focused on agri-business type models, often overlooking farmers already in the community and not developing the interest in our youth. TNAFA on the other hand feels family oriented scale farming is the
best approach in developing a sound future in agriculture. The promotion of traditional agriculture insures economic, social and health stability in our communities. Where we see the decline in farming in our communities we also see the decline in the social and physical health of our people. TNAFA's goals are to reverse this trend by developing educational programs that will demonstrate sustainable agriculture. Educating farmers and youth in community scale organic farming will ensure a future in agriculture.
At that first meeting in Gallup, elder farmers further expressed their concern in the
decline in farming as well as personal and social health among the people. Loss of
traditional diets and access to traditional, cultural foods has brought a health crisis to
our Nations. “The ineffectiveness of the current model of food production is evident from
the fact that while more than one billion people are hungry and suffer from malnutrition
due to being underfed, another two billion suffer from malnutrition due to being over fed
with unhealthy food.3 We see the consequences of this statement in our communities
where obesity, heart disease and diabetes are epidemic. This project begins with
growing from traditional seed to traditional processing, cooking and consumption.
Healthy soils=healthy plants=healthy people= healthy Nations
1, 2, 3 Manifesto on the Future of Seeds, The International Commission on the
Future of Food and Agriculture, 2006.