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Food Sovereignty

Our initiative began with a geodesic greenhouse, originally intended to educate students about gardening. Over time, it has evolved into something much bigger. We now have multiple gardens and greenhouses, a chicken coop, and we focus on growing and harvesting traditional Lakȟóta food.

Our commitment to education has expanded as well. We offer classroom programs that delve into various aspects of food sovereignty, and we conduct cooking demonstrations to inspire healthy eating habits. Additionally, we are proud to host a summer high school student internship program, providing hands-on experience in sustainable agriculture and food systems.

In 2023, the fruits of our labor reached an important milestone. The food grown in our greenhouses and the eggs laid by our chickens now find their way into the cafeterias of our two school campuses. This achievement showcases our dedication to promoting locally sourced, fresh, and nutritious meals for our students.

We firmly believe in the power of collaboration and have established impactful partnerships within our region. Our staff actively participate in the Lakȟóta Food Sovereignty Coalition, a collective endeavor to improve food systems for the residents of Pine Ridge reservation. Moreover, we have joined forces with Native American Tradition Food Systems (NATIFS), which has allowed us to upgrade outdated equipment in our cafeterias and increase the presence of traditional indigenous foods on our menus.

At our Food Sovereignty Initiative, we are proud of our growth and the positive impact we have made in promoting sustainable agriculture, education, and traditional food systems. Join us in our mission to create a more equitable and nourishing future for our community.  


Katie Ackerman

Director of Food Sovereignty

Katie Ackerman

Katie Ackerman is the Director of Food Sovereignty at Red Cloud, where she has been developing a Farm to School Initiative and has been active in the local food sovereignty movement since 2018. She studied Agricultural Education and Sustainable Food & Farming Systems with a minor in Horticulture at Purdue University. She will graduate with her Master’s in Public Health, concentrating in Food Systems, from Johns Hopkins this December. Before coming to Red Cloud, she student taught at Many Farms High School in the Navajo Nation and gained experience on a diversified, regenerative horticulture farm. Katie is originally from South Bend, Indiana. She is passionate about food justice and environmental sustainability.

Esperanza Hartman

Lakota Cultural Foods Coordinator

Esperanza Hartman

Esperanza is the Lakota Cultural Foods Coordinator at Mahpiya Luta. A large part of her job is learning the traditional, cultural knowledge about plants and sharing it with students, which is her favorite part! She graduated from Mahpiya Luta in 2018, graduated from Black Hills State University in 2022, and will graduate with her masters from the University of Oklahoma in 2024. She is passionate about social equity and history. Esperanza’s hobbies include reading (horror and psychological thrillers, mostly), writing, playing guitar, and watching anime.

Carrie Twiss

Green House Coordinator

Carrie Twiss

Carrie Twiss is the Green House Coordinator at Mahpiya Luta while serving as an AmeriCorps member. She graduated from Mahpiya Luta in 2019 and began her college career at Haskell Indian Nations University and recently transferred to Oglala Lakota College, where she is continuing to pursue a bachelor’s in Environmental Science. In her spare time, she is a freelance artist and has illustrated several children’s books.