BEE HEARD: Join the Native Connection’s Traditional Foods as Medicine Project!

Photo Credit: Native Connections

What is the Southern Ute Native Connections Program? 

As you may already know, the Southern Ute Native Connections Program is grant funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Our primary focus is substance use prevention and mental health with Native American youth and their families. For the past couple of years, the Southern Ute Native Connections has promoted and focused on “Culture is Prevention.” Part of this journey is collaborating with other Native Connection Programs and promoting cultural ways and information that reinforces positive and healthy decision-making regarding our mental health and substance use.  

We have adopted a theme you have probably seen around the community: “Healthy minds. Healthy choices. Healthy Utes.” The decisions we make today affect our tomorrow. We want to support and provide tools for our Native American youth and their families to build healthy foundations for healthy futures.  

Traditional Foods as Medicine Project 

We invite all our Native American community members, wherever you are reading this article, to share your recipes, harvesting, and stories about your traditional foods. Our community is unique, and through this project, we hope to add to a bank of information and create a platform for community members to explore traditional food knowledge. These wonderful stories and recipes can be shared with family, friends, and our youth. One day they will be adults and elders passing this knowledge down to the next generation.  

Why traditional foods?  

Food is at the center of our existence as individuals, families, and members of a community or tribe. Traditionally, we all worked together to harvest, hunt, and feed our bands. Today, much has changed, but the food is still at the center of who we are. We still need to eat to survive. How we gather and hunt has changed, but those ways are not lost. Some still practice harvesting and gathering roots, herbs, and foods grown from the water and earth. Some still hunt game and fish, and some still use old ways of harvesting and distributing the animal to elders, family, and friends to use most of the animal with minimal waste. Some have learned new ways of harvesting and hunting.  

We would love to hear your stories and what traditional foods look like and mean to you. This project will also be available for the community to see what others have done with traditional foods and how they use them as medicine for their body and spirit. Knowledge is power, and food is an excellent way to come together and heal. So, share your stories and knowledge, whether you’re on your healing journey or around the dinner table. Even if it seems like no one’s listening, Creator is listening. And this is an excellent way Native Americans can gather and share so that our knowledge lives on.  

How to participate 

There are a couple of ways you can participate: (1) Scan the QR code and take a few minutes to share your stories and recipes. (2) You can also email your story and recipes to your local Native Connections Program. For Southwest Colorado, email Precious Collins at                      

Reminder: If you need to talk to someone, please reach out 

It’s okay not to feel okay. Please contact us if you or someone you know has been struggling with their emotions, behaviors, or substance use. We can help you find appropriate tools and services that could help you overcome obstacles in your life. We are here for you. Don’t hesitate to contact the Southern Ute Behavioral Health Division or the Native Connections Program at 970.563.5700 for more information or to set up an appointment to see a counselor or therapist. Or you can call the NEW Nationwide Suicide and Substance Use Crisis line: 9-8-8 

Simply calling or texting 988 or chatting at will connect you to compassionate care and support for mental health-related distress. #988Lifeline  

And for those interested in opioid use education, harm reduction, and support, please contact us for quick Naloxone (Narcan) training and fentanyl test strips. We can schedule individual, family, or friends training times at our Southern Ute Behavioral Health Building, or we can come to you, and the training is around 30 minutes. Please call us at 970.563.5700 to set up a training appointment. 


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