“We Live in a Very Toxic World”: Changing Environmental Landscapes and Indigenous Food Sovereignty

Jessica L. Liddell, Sarah G. Kington, Catherine E. Mckinley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The purpose of this article is to understand how historical oppression has undermined health through environmental injustices that have given rise to food insecurity. Specifically, the article examines ways in which settler colonialism has transformed and contaminated the land itself, impacting the availability and quality of food and the overall health of Indigenous peoples. Food security and environmental justice for Gulf Coast, state-recognized tribes has been infrequently explored. These tribes lack federal recognition and have limited access to recourse and supplemental resources as a result. This research fills an important gap in the literature through exploring the intersection of environmental justice and food insecurity issues for this population. Partnering with a community-advisory board and using a qualitative descriptive methodology, 31 Gulf Coast Indigenous women participated in semi-structured interviews about their healthcare experiences and concerns. Through these interviews, participants expressed concerns about (a) the environmental impacts of pollution on the contamination of food and on the health of tribal members; and (b) the impact of these changes on the land, such as negatively impacting gardening practices. The authors of this study document how environmental changes have compounded these concerns and contribute to the overall pollution of food and water sources and unviability of subsistence practices, severely effecting tribal members’ health. In conclusion, we show how social and environmental justice issues such as pollution, industry exploitation, and climate change perpetuate the goals of settler colonialism through undermining cultural practices and the overall health of Indigenous peoples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-57
Number of pages20
JournalStudies in Social Justice
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022


  • Environmental justice
  • Food desert
  • Food sovereignty
  • Gardening
  • Indigenous
  • Native american


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