The ABCs of Food Justice: K is for Kinship

As the crisis of capitalism and climate deepens, Indigenous people are leading the way in the defense of Mother Earth and humanity. Through our Global Movements Program, WhyHunger works to support the protagonism of Indigenous people in their demands for sovereignty, defense of life and wellbeing.

And central to Indigenous protagonism is the concept of kinship, or the interconnectedness and mutual responsibility among all living beings, including humans, plants, animals, and the environment. Kinship emphasizes the understanding that all elements of the natural world are relatives and deserve respect, care, and reciprocity.

In indigenous food sovereignty, kinship extends to the relationship between people and their traditional foods, lands, and practices. It involves honoring and preserving traditional knowledge, respecting ancestral territories, and practicing sustainable and regenerative land stewardship. Kinship in this context emphasizes the importance of maintaining harmonious relationships with the land and its resources, recognizing that humans are part of a larger web of life rather than separate from it.

Corn is very important, it is our body, that is, we eat corn, and our body is made of corn. It is our blood; it is our bones; therefore we are people of corn.”
-Aldo Gonzalez, UNSOJO

With kinship at the center, extractive practices like capitalism and commodification of land and food fall to the wayside while connection and relationships take their places. Instead of monocropping and extractive labor practices we find agroecological practices and kinship-based farming. Through this lens, agricultural activities are organized and carried out within the framework of family or kin groups, with a strong emphasis on collective labor, shared resources, and reciprocal relationships.

Kinship-based agriculture reflects local conditions and cultural beliefs, infusing agricultural practices with cultural significance manifested through rituals and ceremonies celebrating connections to land, ancestors, and spiritual beliefs. Demonstrating adaptability and resilience, kinship draws upon collective knowledge and community support networks to navigate challenges posed by environmental, economic, and social factors. Together, communities work together on shared or collectively managed plots, engaging in communal labor to farm, tend livestock, and harvest produce. Resource sharing is integral, with land, seeds, tools, and knowledge circulated within kinship groups to foster cooperation and mutual support.


Kids Corner:
Imagine you’re part of a big family, but this family isn’t just people – it includes plants, animals, and even the land itself! That’s what kinship is, it means we’re all connected and responsible for taking care of each other.

Now, think about how we get our food. Instead of just growing one type of crop in a big field like some places do, Indigenous communities practice something called agroecology, which is basically farming in harmony with nature. They work together with their families and share everything they have – like land, seeds, and tools – to grow food sustainably.

But it’s not just about food – it’s about respecting the land, the traditions, and the ancestors who came before us. Indigenous people celebrate their connection to the Earth through rituals and ceremonies, showing gratitude for everything it provides. And when tough times come, they stick together, using their shared knowledge and support to overcome challenges.

So, when we talk about Indigenous kinship and agriculture, we’re really talking about a way of life that honors nature, community, and tradition. It’s a beautiful way of living that shows how we can all work together to protect our planet and each other.

WhyHunger has established relationships with Indigenous-led organizations and formations around the world, including: