sayet shares importance of revitalizing traditional foodways

On February 28, students in the sophomore seminar in environmental studies (ENVS201) greeted guest speaker Rachel Sayet, an anthropologist and educator from the Mohegan Tribe, who spoke to students and other members of the Wesleyan community about revitalizing traditional foodways in New England and beyond.

dsc_7710_47242332161_oENVS201, taught by COE Director Barry Chernoff and assistant professor of environmental studies Helen Poulos, introduces students to critical methods for conducting research on environmental issues, as a primer for performing research in the ENVS major.

(Photos by Laurie Kenney)

Helen Poulos
Assistant professor of environmental studies Helen Poulos introduces Rachel Sayet.
Rachel Sayet
During the event, Sayet began by explaining “stories of land and sea,” Indigenous stories that explain the origins of natural phenomena from the color of cliffs to the relationships between flora and fauna.
Rachel Sayet at Wesleyan 2.28.19
Indigenous tribes celebrated several “thanksgivings” throughout the year, to express gratitude for specific harvests, from corn and squash to strawberries and cranberries. Sayet emphasized the positive effects initiatives such as community gardens, seed saving, and greenhouses can have on tribes, helping them move toward food sovereignty.
Rachel Sayet
Focusing on the concept of food sovereignty, Sayet explained how harvesting native foods can be a source of income for tribes, helping them strengthen autonomy in their communities.
Rachel Sayet
Noting the relationship between colonization and a drastic rise in obesity and type 2 diabetes among Indigenous people, Sayet stressed the importance of tribes returning to their pre-colonial diets in healthy modern ways.