Keynotes

Rebuilding Food Sovereignty on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is home of the Oglala Lakota Tribe and one of the country’s largest reservations in size. Located in southwestern South Dakota, Pine Ridge has one of the lowest life expectancies and is one of the poorest communities in the United States. Our keynote speaker, Nick Hernandez has taken it on himself to change the course for this reservation.

As founder of the Makoce Agriculture Development, Nick credits his grandmother for inspiring him to reconnect back to the earth and agriculture. For fourteen years, Nick has worked towards creating needed and viable change for his community through a self-determined, indigenous and reconnected local food system, designed to regenerate healthy equitable communities, economies, and the environment for many generations to come.

In his keynote address, Nick will highlight programs that are being implemented on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to achieve this important change, which include: food sovereignty curriculum for elementary students, regenerative demonstration farms, strategic partnerships, community classes on traditional foods, regenerative poultry-centered agriculture, and community gardens. As founder of Makoce Agriculture Development, Nick is looking to achieve the goal to sustainably produce and provide access to delicious, nutritious, local foods that increase and improve the quality of their lives, their communities, the economy, and the environment.

Roughly 95% of food consumed on the reservation is transported from off-reservation sources, while the majority of food produced on the reservation is exported to off-reservation consumers.

Lakota Food Sovereignty Coalition
Nick Hernandez headshot

Nick Hernandez

Founder, Makoce Agriculture Development

Nick Hernandez is a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe and a citizen of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (SD). Nick is the father of two boys, Alee Jax and Kai Tyndall Hernandez and significant partner to Liz Welch. In 2015, Nick created the Food Sovereignty Initiative of the Thunder Valley Community Development Cooperation and led its creation and development as a model community based educational food system till the summer of 2019. In 2019, Nick earned a master’s degree in Lakota Leadership and Organizational Management from Oglala Lakota College. Today, Nick has founded and created Makoce Agriculture Development, which is the next level of local agriculture and food systems development on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Nick is passionate and dedicated towards creating a needed and viable change for his community through a self-determined, indigenous and reconnected local food system designed to regenerate healthy equitable communities, economies and our environment for many generations to come.