Indigenous Gardening and Food Sovereignty Initiative

The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian’s new Indigenous Gardening and Food Sovereignty initiative enhances our commitment to promoting traditional ecological knowledge and Indigenous foodways and celebrating the enduring contributions of Indigenous communities in Chicago and the Great Lakes region.

Major Activities

Garden Expansion

Expand the Indigenous Medicine and Pollinator Garden with regional fruit and vegetable crops, signage, a teaching lodge, and hardscaping for accessible pathways.

Teaching Kitchen Space

Incorporate a commercial kitchen space to host and sustain hands-on Indigenous Foodways education programs and support local Indigenous chefs in preparing and sharing regional Indigenous cuisines.


Develop an exhibit highlighting Indigenous agricultural practices, historical factors that disrupted Indigenous lifeways, and the innovative ways Great Lakes Indigenous communities restored their ecosystems and reclaimed sustainable foodways.

Educational Programming

Offer educational programs, resources, and tours that correlate with our new food crops’ growing and harvest seasons so that the public, schools, and the Native community can learn the value of Indigenous ecological knowledge and access our gardens to put traditional techniques into practice.


Billie Kerner – Garden Manager


  • Enhanced understanding of native plants and Indigenous knowledge systems through community outreach to education programs for the public.
  • Stronger partnerships with Great Lakes Tribal Nations to promote their food sovereignty and ecological-based projects widely.
  • Increased traditional food access for local Native individuals and families
  • Adapted traditional gardening techniques and foodways adapted for urban and suburban lifestyles
  • New economic opportunities for Indigenous chefs, food makers, and businesses