Mariah Gladstone (Blackfeet, Cherokee) grew up in Northwest Montana. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Environmental Engineering and returned home where she developed Indigikitchen. Mariah has been recognized as a “Champion for Change” through the Center for Native American Youth, a “Culture of Health Leader” through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Grist 50 “Fixer.” She is currently on the board of the Native Youth Food Sovereignty Alliance (NYFSA).
What motivates and inspires you?
I am passionate about improving the physical health of Native people as part of our journey towards food sovereignty. The more we learn how to feed ourselves healthy and sustainable foods, the more resilient we become.
Who are your personal ‘Sheroes’/Female Role-Models?
Denise Juneau, who demonstrated how a Native woman could lead Montana. Sally Jewell, who as Secretary of the Interior demonstrated a true commitment to tribes, and who serves our state as the sponsor for the USS Montana. And finally, my graduate advisor, Robin Wall Kimmerer, who champions the power of Indigenous sciences and the wisdom of ancestral ecological knowledge.
What technology/literature/art/seminars/ideas do you love, and recommend to others?
I’m a big fan of podcasts and listen to them pretty frequently when I’m traveling. A couple of my favorites are “Stuff You Missed in History Class” and “Criminal” are favorites.
How do you reboot?
The best way for me to reboot includes physical activity. I am lucky to be part of a wonderful aerial community in the Flathead and have found a lot of joy in acrobatics. However, I also love to get outside and hike, kayak, and ski.
What is your biggest accomplishment, so far?
Being recognized as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Leader has filled me with a sense of gratitude and responsibility. While it is a great honor, I am fortunate that it comes with leadership training and a network that will help me continue to do the work I am called to.
What is the biggest career risk you’ve ever taken?
Stepping away from a regular 8-5 career to pursue my business full time was the biggest challenge. I sacrificed a regular schedule and the guarantee of a steady paycheck and instead opted to give myself the time to pursue Indigikitchen to the fullest extent.
What is the ‘lasting legacy’ you hope to leave?
By creating a digital archive of Indigenous recipes, the work that I am doing can be spread across Indian Country for generations to come. Not only will this serve as a Native-made account of our culinary traditions, but its accessibility will ensure that it can be used as a teaching tool for anyone.
Words of wisdom you want to share with Montanan women?
Make your bed every morning.
Click the links below to learn more about Mariah and her work:
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