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Sustainable Food And Agricultural Systems: Lessons From Indigenous Agriculture

Food shortages are a serious concern for the world’s population. While genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have developed as an answer to challenges like population growth and climate change, some look back to ancient farming practices for answers. 

Jane Mt. Pleasant (Tuscarora) is an agronomist and associate professor at Cornell University’s School of Integrative Plant Science, who studies the productivity of indigenous cropping systems like those of Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) farmers. 

Mt. Pleasant believes in a more integrated, multi-disciplinary approach to food cultivation that includes cultural/social anthropology, archeology, history, and paleobotany. Her research also includes pre-Columbian agriculture in eastern and central North America. According to Mt. Pleasant, their farming methods were, and are, frequently underrated by many academics. She advocates they were among the world’s most sustainable and productive farmers. 

As part of Native American Heritage Month, Mt. Pleasant will be keynote speaker at the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian’s annual Dr. Carlos Montezuma Honorary Lecture & Award ceremony in north suburban Evanston on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. Her topic will be “Sustainable Food and Agricultural Systems: Lessons from Indigenous Agriculture.”

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