Claiming Health and Culture as
YAKAMA FEMINISM IN DAILY PRACTICE
MICHELLE M. JACOB
University of San Diego, USA
In this article, I examine the gendered politics of the Yakama Reservation food
economy. Drawing from ethnographic data, I discuss the importance of culture and
health as human rights. My analysis reveals that indigenous people’s health and
well-being deteriorates as traditional cultural practices are undermined within a globalized and neo-colonial context; however, I also find that indigenous women are resisting the social, political and economic forces that limit Yakama people’s rights to culture
and health. Traditional cultural teachings place women in a position of power, as they
control an important source of wealth: the food supply of the people. Today, women are
reclaiming this position of power as they resist widely available convenience and fast
foods to nurture their families and provide for a healthier next generation on the
reservation. In doing so, our people are able to resist the hegemony of the capitalist
food system, which supplies most of the food on the reservation and allows us to
begin envisioning a Yakama feminist approach to human rights work.
Health, food, Yakama, indigenous
Shix pa´chway! Good day! My name is Michelle Jacob. I am an enrolled
member of the Yakama Nation, a sovereign Indian nation whose reservation
is located on our traditional homeland that the Creator provided for our
people on the Columbia River Plateau in what is now South-Central Washington
State, in the Pacific Northwest of the USA.
International Feminist Journal of Politics, 12:3-4 December 2010, 361–380
ISSN 1461-6742 print/ISSN 1468-4470 online # 2010 Taylor & Francis
http://www.informaworld.com DOI: 10.1080/1461674
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