“It’s more about Tribal sovereignty – and the Tribe taking back control over its local food system,” states Choctaw Fresh Produce.
First Nations Development Institute has awarded the first 17 Keepseagle Fast-Track Grants to organizations that provide much-needed assistance to grow or expand programs and services to organizations in Native communities that serve Native farmers, ranchers and food producers. (In two instances — Coffee Pot Farm and Rosebud Economic Development Corporation — funding was partially provided by Agua Fund.)
The new grant program, the “Keepseagle Fast-Track Grants to Support Native Farmers & Ranchers” is an outgrowth of the Keepseagle vs. Vilsack case that spanned more than 18 years in federal litigation. The program falls under First Nations’ existing Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI).
The grantees are:
Alexander Pancho Memorial Farm, Sells, Arizona, $40,000 – The farm is a community-based grassroots effort to revitalize the ancient art of dryland farming on the Tohono O’odham Nation. This project will increase the capacity of a new generation of farmers through hands-on apprenticeships, workshops, classes, events and other forms of technical assistance.
Blackfeet Achievement Center, Browning, Montana, $40,000 – The tribe will conduct an economic and technical feasibility study to examine the benefits and challenges of constructing a multi-species meat-processing plant. The plant will reconnect the community to traditional cultural foods by restoring commercial and wild bison herds, and will improve economic opportunities for producers and communities through value-added agriculture and nature-based businesses.
Choctaw Fresh Produce, Choctaw, Mississippi, $40,000 – Choctaw Fresh Produce will deliver freshly harvested, locally grown organic produce to tribal members living on or near the Choctaw Indian Reservation in east-central Mississippi. Additionally, it will host cooking demonstrations to educate tribal members about health and nutrition, with a specific emphasis on working with tribal elders and diabetics.
Coffee Pot Farm, Winslow, Arizona, $40,000 – Coffee Pot Farms is a Native American woman-owned business located in Dilkon on the Navajo Nation. It will establish a Native food co-operative to revitalize traditional corn fields, organize business workshops for local farmers, write and define culturally-appropriate food policies, and educate tribal members about Native food sovereignty.
Ekvn-Yefolecv, Weogufka, Alabama, $40,000 – Ekvn-Yefolecv is an Indigenous ecovillage that seeks to build an agricultural complex to conserve/restore bison and sturgeon to decolonize the Maskoke diet with traditional, bioregional animal proteins and vegetables. Additionally, the complex also will include a language immersion program where students can participate in agricultural/ceremonial practices involving bison, sturgeon and vegetable crops.
Fort Peck Community College, Poplar, Montana, $40,000 – Fort Peck Community College’s Agricultural Department will create a new program to educate tribal youth on farming and ranching in their ancestral homelands. Native and non-Native youth will participate in cultural activities and workshops, and plant a community garden intended to decrease food insecurity and encourage youth to live a healthy lifestyle.
Laulima Kuha’o, Lanai City, Hawaii, $40,000 – Laulima Kuha’o is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of the Indigenous peoples of Lanai by promoting community-based economic development. Native Hawaiian youth will participate in a series of agricultural workshops and events designed to further their connection to the ‘aina (land) and increase local food production.
Learning Center at the Euchee Butterfly Farm, Inc., Leonard, Oklahoma, $37,000 – The Learning Center at the Euchee Butterfly Farm, Inc. is a nonprofit founded by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation to provide training in butterfly farming to tribal citizens. Muscogee youth and adults will receive on-site training to produce butterflies for commercial sale and learn about economic development regarding small, non-traditional agricultural businesses.
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Mashpee, Massachusetts, $40,000 – The tribe has depended on shellfish harvesting long before first contact with the pilgrims. It seeks to preserve this traditional way of life by expanding the current shellfish farm to share this tradition with future generations, improve its capacity to engage national markets, and increase revenue to improve the economy.
Oneida Nation, Oneida, Wisconsin, $40,000 – The Oneida Nation promotes the development of food sovereignty and agriculturally based economic capacity within the 11 Wisconsin Indian communities. It will purchase, install and develop teaching tools for two professional juicers and one freeze-drying unit. This project will increase the skills and capacity of Wisconsin Indians to create and produce value-added products as a means of economic development.
Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians, Pauma Valley, California, $40,000 – The Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians has managed 160 acres of avocado and citrus groves for the past 30 years. The funding will purchase tools and equipment to increase production by 25 percent, produce 500 pounds of traditional seed crops, and partner with the Indian Health Council to improve access to traditional and healthy foods for a least 100 tribal members through cooking classes, farm tours, farm box delivery, and an improved farm stand.
Pueblo of Jemez, Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico, $30,400 – The pueblo will convert an unused domestic well to an agricultural relief well for delivering water to Jemez farmers via the Pecos irrigation canal, and to add a water filling station for farmers to access water for small gardens and livestock. This project addresses the long-standing problem of water delivery, and increases the number of farmers and youth involved with traditional farming practices.
Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma, Quapaw, Oklahoma, $40,000 – The tribe owns a meat-processing plant, feeding facility, greenhouses, beehives, row crops and a coffee-roasting facility that aim to increase community access to fresh, healthy foods, bolster the tribal economy, and increase Native food-system control. It will create 10 farmers’ markets, where it can educate 50 tribal members at each location about the health and economic benefits of locally grown foods.
Rosebud Economic Development Corporation, Mission, South Dakota, $39,600 – Rosebud Economic Development Corporation established the Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative in 2014 to address food insecurity and diet-related illnesses on the Rosebud Reservation. It will launch a pilot program for new ranchers and farmers to implement incubator farm operations, and promote farming and ranching as a viable career option and source of livelihood.
Rosebud Ranch and Farming Enterprise, Rosebud, South Dakota, $40,000 – Rosebud Ranch and Farming Enterprise was established by the Rosebud Sioux Tribe to breed and produce Angus cattle. It will offer range workshops to tribal members, ages 8-18, about rangeland grasses and plant identification, including traditional Lakota plants used for food and medicine. The goal is to use ranching to teach Lakota youth about kinship with the land.
Southwest Indian Agricultural Association, Inc., Casa Grande, Arizona, $40,000 – Southwest Indian Agricultural Association, Inc. is a nonprofit organization with more than 300 members from 20+ Southwest tribes. This project will provide outreach and hands-on training on sustainable farming/ranching, community gardening, food safety, irrigation and agribusiness to 100 Native farmers. It will also provide technical assistance to individual farmers on business planning and grant assistance.
White Mountain Apache Tribe – Water Resources, Ndée Bikíyaa, The People’s Farm, Fort Apache, Arizona, $40,000 – The White Mountain Apache Tribe established Ndée Bikíyaa (The Peoples’ Farm) in 2010. This project will increase the scope of the farm with a series of workshops focused on agribusiness education and skill-building. Through this education and training, participants will acquire skills to strengthen their identity as farmers and stewards of the land and water and catalysts of local traditional food economies.