Home News Bringing back bartering at Kahnawake food gathering 

Bringing back bartering at Kahnawake food gathering 

A variety of trades at Akwesasne’s Nation to Nation food gathering earlier this month. Courtesy Brooke Rice

An unforgettable time at the Nation to Nation Food Sustainability Meeting and Swap in Akwesasne earlier this month left Brooke Rice feeling inspired, nourished, and excited to do it all again.  

“A lot of love and intention goes into harvesting and creating and crafting, especially if you’re saving seeds. That’s a long-term process from planting, cultivating, harvesting, drying,” she said. “I want to establish those connections because there’s so many people in the community that have knowledge.” 

Rice spent her time in Akwesasne learning from knowledge keepers and community members, as well as trading food and goods. Now, she’s launching a similar gathering with her grassroots initiative Tkà:nio’s on March 30 at the 207 Longhouse. The event is called “Haudenosaunee Food Gathering” and will feature discussions on seed keeping, adapting to climate change, and preserving traditional food ways.  

“There’s definitely a growth and energy of this food sovereignty movement, and people in the community want to be more self-reliant – though I don’t like to say that word, I want it to be more ‘collective reliant,’ where we start depending on each other,” she said. “We’re community, we’re family, we’re supposed to take care of each other. One person isn’t supposed to have more than another so I want to bring that energy back.” 

The gathering will follow a similar structure to Akwesasne’s gathering, which was organized by the group “Onkwe.” The day will start with introductions from participants, followed by presentations from John Bonaparte and Angie Ferguson, which will lead into a roundtable discussion and finally an opportunity for trading. 

Bonaparte, who is from Akwesasne, operates Bare Bones Farm, a farm that focuses on ethical agriculture and providing space for future generations of Mohawk farmers to learn how to farm. Ferguson, who is from Onondaga, founded Braiding The Sacred to gather knowledge about corn from elders and knowledge keepers across Turtle Island.  
“We’re going to have an enriched open discussion on solutions of how to move forward with the changes that are coming,” Rice said. “It’s really cool to have them involved.” 

Rice also plans for there to be live cooking demonstrations, including one from her uncle Eric McComber, owner of McComber’s Fish & Game, who will either do a fish filet demonstration or smoked sturgeon demonstration. The event will be catered by local company, TLC Catering.  

So far, individuals have registered from across the Confederacy, and Rice asks those who wish to participate to register via the link on Tkà:nio’s’ social media, so that she can prepare for the correct number of participants. She also encourages participants to bring items to trade with other attendees. 

“I want to reignite the idea of bartering between members of the community and establish those trading networks,” she said. “When we trade, and you’re looking into one another’s eyes, it’s a real intimate reciprocity. It’s a moment of gratitude, and respect, and honour, but it’s also fun because sometimes you trade something and they’re like ‘No, what else you got?’ So you have to up your trade. It’s sustainability, ethical harvesting, and relationship building, but there’s that element of fun, too.” 

At the gathering in Akwesasne, trades included seeds, corn, moose meat, wampum, and beadwork. Rice hopes similar trades can happen, so that the joy of food can be shared across nations and communities.  

“Food is weddings, it’s ceremonies, it brings people together. So, we really need to think about our relationships to food, how we’re eating, and be mindful,” she said. “If this is something that’s interesting to you, but maybe you’re shy and unsure, this is the perfect place to just come, sit, and listen. It’s an open, welcoming space, and it’s going to be a really enriching and fruitful discussion.” 

The deadline to register for Tkà:nio’s’ event is March 25. Contact tkanios@kinnections.ca for more information.  


This article was originally published in print on March 22 in issue 33.12 of The Eastern Door.

Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.

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Eve is a reporter with the Eastern Door. She has also covered harm reduction and social justice issues for the Montreal Gazette, The Breach, Filter Magazine, and more.