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Sloan Scholar Cooks Up Cultural Knowledge

In 2016, Mariah Gladstone launched Indigikitchen, an internet cooking show that gives viewers tools to find and prepare food on reservations and strengthens ties to Indigenous cultures. A YouTube phenomenon, the show features cooking demonstrations, classes, and in-person presentations.

"Not everyone learns best from a cookbook," said Gladstone. "Speaking engagements are highly motivational, great community-building events, and - in general - fantastic opportunities for me to really explain the added benefit of cultural revitalization. Pre-contact foods, especially those harvested locally, are a testament to the resilience of Native lifestyles and a delicious way of resisting colonization." Gladstone (Blackfeet, Cherokee) grew up in Northwest Montana. She graduated from Columbia University with a degree in Environmental Engineering and is currently a Sloan Fellow at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Gladstone 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).

Her fellowship at ESF gives her the freedom and motivation to take a deep dive into concepts that have long interested her.

"I wouldn't be in grad school if it weren't for the Sloan Fellowship," said Gladstone. "The opportunity to work alongside Dr. Robin Kimmerer and research land management techniques that the Blackfeet used on prairies - controlled burns and specific harvesting methods - to sustain the population of prairie turnips, will allow me to positively influence food sustainability, biodiversity, and maintaining a healthy ecosystem on prairies."

Gladstone came to ESF in 2019, attracted to the College by the opportunity to work with Dr. Kimmerer and the chance to explore ways to blend Indigenous methodologies with western research-based science. As a fellow, she attends tuition-free and receives a stipend for living expenses. Beyond these immediate benefits, though, the fellowship will provide a lifetime of connections.

"I'm connected to a network of Sloan Scholars through the Indigenous partnerships," said Gladstone. "I've met influential people at the American Indian Science and Engineering Society Conference and have access to an online community. These relationships are tremendously helpful."

Gladstone is currently working on her thesis and expects to graduate in May 2021. She plans to incorporate the knowledge she's gained from graduate school in a deeper and more involved way. Her newfound connections will help her expand her business, bringing it to more people.

"All of the information I've learned at ESF can be applied to my professional life and will help me build wellness through tradition," said Gladstone.