Brooke Rodriguez is a Táino mother living in Munsee Lenape territory and the co-founder of The Grinding Stone Collective. This collective focuses on uplifting Indigenous communities within the Americas. The collective has two main initiatives First Foods and Missing Indigenous Sisters Toolbox Initiatives (MISTI). First Foods is a program that promotes native food culture and food sovereignty through instruction, education, and mutual aid. MISTI is a data sovereignty workbook that helps native families manage a search when a relative goes missing. Brooke is invested in addressing climate change through regional indigenous culture and bringing MMIW initiatives to the forefront. She believes that indigenous cultures hold the original instructions for maintaining healthy stewardship with the land and that we must center our most marginalized community members in times of crisis.
I am really excited about the opportunity to increase access to traditional foods for Indigenous communities while simultaneously increasing knowledge of traditional regional diets. Merging traditional food, culture, land back, and healthy living is essential to finding climate solutions. We do this by promoting food security, personal wellness, and advocating for overall healthier communities.
Community and Action. It feels rich and abundant to be more connected with our Mother. I have met so many Native Community members and allies over the span of two years that are prepared and willing to help aid and foster a better, more holistically sustainable future in terms of traditional eating and land management. In many respects, it is the accumulation of my hopes, prayers, and dreams to be able to do the work we are doing and I am humbled that I am able to do what my ancestors were denied.
My son and all Indigenous children as well as the ones who aren't born yet.
My foundational memories are supported by strong matriarchs; My Grandmother who always fed everyone no matter how little she had as well as my Aunt who always kept us together and carried my grandmother’s spirit after she passed. Last year, we lost my Aunt to COVID-19. It was hard and I still can’t believe she’s gone and miss her every day. She always looked out for the younger ones, all of the cousins including her own children and grandchildren, and even adopted relatives. She always advised us to stay together and always supported and encouraged our dreams.
As far as books, I just picked up For Indigenous Minds Only: A Decolonization Handbook by Waziyatawin and Michael Yellow Bird. It is a great handbook for tackling the big dilemma of decolonization and provides mindfulness techniques.
If you are interested in the work at First Foods Program, please visit us on Facebook, or visit our website at grindingstone.org. You can support our work by donating through our website or a link to our PayPal! We appreciate new members or any donations.
Through our work we’ve learned that wellness is more interlinked with land back and decolonization than we realized.
I find balance by remembering my original instructions. That means eating my traditional foods, moving my body, spending time with my family, and looking every day at ways to unlearn behaviors picked up through colonization.
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