Montana isn't all cattle herds and fields of waving grain. This sprawling state is also full of food deserts — places without many affordable, healthy food options. The lack of access to healthy food for residents of many of the state's Indian reservations contributes to some horrible demographic statistics. The life expectancy for Native American women is 62, a full 20 years less than for non-Native women. For Montana's Native American men, it's 56. One 27-year-old woman of Blackfeet and Cherokee heritage is on a mission to improve Native people's lives through healthy diet and a return of indigenous food systems.
Mariah Gladstone grew up in northwest Montana. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in environmental engineering, and returned home, where, in 2016, she started Indigikitchen, an online cooking site dedicated to re-indigenizing our diets. Using how-to videos, and featuring foods native to the Americas, Indigikitchen gives viewers recipes, instructions, and other tools to find and prepare food with historic connection to their own communities.
Mariah has been recognized as a "Champion for Change" through the Center for Native American Youth, a "Culture of Health Leader" through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and an MIT Solve Indigenous Communities Fellow. Mariah is a Sloan Scholar currently completing her master's degree in environmental science at SUNY-Syracuse, through the Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.
Listen now on Can Do, to learn about Mariah’s journey back to Montana, her passion for native cookery, and her determination to strengthen ties to indigenous culture and community.