Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Cherokee Nation Deputy Principal Chief Bryan Warner, Secretary of State Tina Glory Jordan, Chief of Staff Todd Enlow and CNB Government Relations Specialist Ethan Green did a walkthrough at the Tribe’s future meat processing facility, which will process beef, bison and swine. (Courtesy Cherokee Nation/Facebook)
Both the Cherokee and Osage Nations will put federal coronavirus relief money toward funding their individual meat processing facilities. Food sovereignty is at the heart of the new avenues for economic development — the need to regain control of their supply chains was underscored amid the pandemic.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, beef and other meat sources were harder to supply to elders through emergency food distributions, and opening a meat processing facility will help sustain foods for Cherokee citizens and bring in jobs and agricultural opportunities for the Tribe,” Cherokee Nation said in a written statement.
The Cherokee Nation expects its 12,000-square-foot facility to cost about $1 million. The Nation will repurpose a former horticultural nursery on land outside of Tahlequah, Oklahoma. According to Tulsa World, the facility will process beef, pork and bison. Expected to create seven jobs, construction is scheduled for completion by early 2021.
The facility will initially serve Cherokee citizens facing food insecurities, and then the Tribe plans to expand into the larger commercial marketplace.
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“It’ll help address some food security needs for the Cherokee people, but it’s broader than that,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. told Public Radio Tulsa. “We also have to think about sustainability. Part of sustainability means employment for our people.”
Meanwhile, the Osage Nation is constructing a new building in Hominy, Oklahoma. The plant is expected to be 25,000 square feet and employ some 30 people. The project is using $8 million from Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding the Nation received back in June, according to Osage News.
Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear said the funds were used in order to provide food security for the Osage people. “Currently, most Osages have limited access to food as various towns within the county have lost their grocery stores within the past five years,” reports Osage News.
The plant plans to open January 1, 2021, with an experienced leader at its helm. “It is the intent to hire someone with the specific knowledge to help develop the meat processing facility and have it operational the day it opens. The search for this manager is already underway,” Jann Hayman, director for the Osage Nation’s Department of Natural Resources and member of the Nation’s COVID-19 Task Force, told Osage News.
“Like the farm (Bird Creek Farm), the funds for infrastructure development can only be used to meet the needs of the Osage people by supporting the security of food systems. Therefore, the meat will be going to the Osage people who live both locally and outside the local community,” she continued.