The Native American Dream: Ojibwe Woman Leads Sustainability Movement Off Reservation
Raising chickens, rabbits, and goats, and producing enough organic crops to keep a family of three plus friends and neighbors well fed brings to mind hay barns and fields amid a rural landscape.
But the farm-like environment of Monycka Snowbird’s property sits in the center of Colorado Springs, a city of more than 440,000 residents. Snowbird and her two daughters butcher their own meat, collect eggs and milk, and make cheeses and soaps in addition to growing and harvesting a variety of vegetation, which flourishes on about a tenth of an acre.
Urban farming—also known as urban homesteading or backyard or micro farming—isn’t rare, but what makes Snowbird’s endeavors unique is the mix of indigenous knowledge, techniques, and values the Ojibwe mother of two infuses into the food and household products she makes and teaches others to practice.
“You can’t be sovereign if you can’t feed yourself,” says Snowbird, 40, borrowing a line from Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe), an environmental activist and founder of Honor the Earth. “One of the ways colonizers controlled Indian people was to take our food sources away. Let’s reclaim our food.”
Snowbird works with both Native and non-Native organizations throughout the Pikes Peak region to educate and promote the benefits of urban food production. She leads educational classes for children and adults, including seed cultivation, plant recognition, harvesting, livestock butchering, and more.