Punk Rock, Home Birth, and Indian Corn: Shelley Buffalo
Shelley Buffalo is a visual artist and Food Sovereignty Coordinator for the Meskwaki Settlement near Tama, Iowa. Shelley was born near the Settlement, and much of her extended family still lives in Tama County. But her own journey has led her away and back more than a dozen times. For Shelley, sources of hope can come from anywhere, like her lifelong identification with punk rock, but the Meskwaki Settlement most recently called her back with its food sovereignty initiative, which restores ancestral foods, like corn and squash, and the traditional recipes that go with them. Shelley hopes to reverse the influence of government commodities on indigenous diets and to revive the stories of resilience that guide the Meskwaki lifeway. We talked about Shelley’s experience of racism in rural Iowa, how her birth experience in a hospital compared with her second birth experience at home, and why her work with food sovereignty may mean more to future generations than to her own.