“Living off the Land”: How Subsistence Promotes Well-Being and Resilience among Indigenous Peoples of the Southeastern United Statesedit
Indigenous peoples of the United States tend to experience the most severe social, behavioral, and physical health disparities of any ethnic minority. This critical ethnography uses the framework of historical oppression, resilience, and transcendence to examine indigenous peoples’ perspectives on and experiences with subsistence living, investigating how subsistence living may contribute to well-being and resilience by promoting physical exercise, a healthy diet, and psychological health. Thematic analysis of data from 436 participants across two southeastern tribes reveals three overarching themes: fostering fond memories and family bonding through “living off the land,” enabling experiential intergenerational teaching and learning, and promoting resourcefulness and offsetting economic marginalization. Results indicate that subsistence is an important avenue to promote sustainable and organic approaches to health and well-being within indigenous communities by facilitating positive nutrition and diet, exercise, and subjective well-being.