To provide a unified effort to promote change in Indian Agriculture for the benefit of Indian People.

The Intertribal Agriculture Council conducts a wide range of programs designed to further the goal of improving Indian Agriculture. The IAC promotes the Indian use of Indian resources and contracts with federal agencies to maximize resources for tribal members.

Breaking the Barriers to Self-Sufficiency

Kim and Koral Smartlowit are mother and daughter and are enrolled members of the Yakama Nation.  They have a common bond, they both love barrel racing and cattle ranching.  Also, they both are recipients of the FSA Farm Loan Programs.

Two years ago, mom Kim Smartlowit, obtained an FSA Operating Loan of $150,000 to purchase Black Angus pairs.  These cattle are run with her husbands on the Yakama Nation Ancestral Range Lands. Kim’s cattle herd is flourishing and has been a profitable endeavor.

In early October of 2017, daughter Koral Smartlowit obtained a FSA Youth Loan to purchase show steers for show at the Central Washington Jr. Livestock Show.  Koral is a senior at Toppenish Sr. High School and an active participant in FFA.

Koral is a natural when it comes to horses and cattle ranching, “she has been riding horses before she could even walk,” her mother proudly states.  Also, Koral has been working with her family’s cattle operation for many years.  Koral’s mother states her daughter is an invaluable member of the operation. Kim and Koral are looking forward to working together for many years to come.

Kim and Koral are a prime example of what can occur when a combination of resources are utilized in a positive manner.  The Intertribal Agricultural Council, Farm Service Agency, Toppenish WA FFA Chapter, and Family, have all contributed to this mother and daughter duos great success.

 

E’Numu Diip "Our Indian Land" Cooperative

Three years ago, a journey of perseverance began for a few ladies who are descendants of the original allotment owners of the Burns Paiute Public Domain Allotments, located in southeastern Oregon.  The Numu Allottees Association (NAA) was formed to enable the Allottees to become active in the management of their seventy-two, 160 acre allotments designated for agriculture.  They have had some success since the formation, notably with the USDA’s NRCS staff, IAC staff and Burns Paiute Lease Compliance Officer, executing rangeland inventories on 33 of the allotments in a five-day period.

 

In the spring of 2017 the Numu Allottees Association began the task of forming the E’Numu Diip Cooperative (Paiute for meaning “Our Indian Land”; Diip pronounced deep) (END).  Northwest Cooperative Development, Indian Land Tenure Foundation, Native American Oregon Legal Services and Intertribal Agriculture Council were called upon to assist in the formation.  Weekly video conference calls were scheduled and the group worked on the mission statement, bylaws and seating of the board of directors, application was made in June to the State of Oregon and approved for registration of the cooperative.

 

The same month the Numu Allottees Association submitted USDA applications and were awarded by USDA the Rural Business Development Grant for $50,000 to perform a feasibility study and strategic and business planning for the E’ Numu Diip Project.

 

Phase I of the END Project will be to develop a demonstration model beginning with 4 public domain allotments (640 acres) model to be managed by the END Cooperative Board and Indian landowners (Allottees). The END goal is to assist Allottees to become successful producers of agricultural products.

 

Phase II of the END Project: NAA was also Funded by the USDA Socially Disadvantaged Group Grant for $175,000 to provide professional technical assistance for an integrated agricultural management plan specifically for public domain allotments to include: energy project, water management and infrastructure development, Food Safety for Agriculture Products, legal advice, research and publications, economic feasibility studies related to agriculture products, energy, water rights, housing requirements, fractionation issues, and  training and development in all phases for the Allottees.

Board of Directors, pictured left to right: Darryl Kyle Numan- VP; Cory Queahpama, Secretary; Bernold Pollard, Treasurer; Wanda Johnson; Charlotte Roderique, President and Carmen Smith, Chief of Police

IAC’s Northwest Region Technical Assistance Specialist Katherine Goodluck | kgoodluck@IndianAgLink.com | 541-278-6811 or 541-969-4685

 

FSA Livestock Forage Program Enhances YPIT Cattle Operation

The Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe (YPIT) is located on 1,395 acres of beautiful gently rolling hills and is bordered on three sides by the city of Prescott in central Arizona. Before 1860, the three groups of Yavapai numbered several thousand and lived on their 9 million acre territorial homelands. Today, there are approximately 150 tribal members of the Yavapai Prescott group; a majority reside on the reservation.

Back in the 1900s, the Yavapai Prescott Indian Reservation was established with 75 acres. The government issued 2 cows to each family as a source of future income. The tribe’s herd sizebegan to increase which led to an additional 1,320 acres established as reservation land. In the 1960s, the number of tribal livestock producers dwindled.

Back in 2002, the Yavpe’ Ma’ta (Yavapai Land) Company purchased 1,240 acres in their traditional territory, Skull Valley, with the intentions of running a cow / calf operation. With Arizona being in a drought and the previous landowner overgrazing the area, the Tribe rested the land for a few years before introducing cattle onto it.

About 9 years ago, the Yavpe’ Ma’ta Ranch Board purchased 10 Brangus cows and bull. Today the herd has grown to 80 cows and 4 bulls with half grazing on their Prescott Reservation. The Tribe seized the opportunity to lease an additional 2,260 acres of BLM and State land that border the Skull Valley operation bringing the total to 3,500 acres of grazing land. Ranch foreman, Arleigh Bonnaha practices rotational grazing, “We’ve got 4 pastures on the ranch and rotation is dependent on cool and warm weather grasses.”

The Ranch foreman and the Tribe’s Ag Consultant, Marc Galeano, know the difficulties of feeding cattle when drought occurs. With Arizona being in a drought status over the last several years the tribal ranch had to supplement its herd with feed and have had to make management decisions for the benefit of the land.

In 2015, the Tribe applied for the USDA, Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Livestock Forage Program (LFP) disaster assistance and were successful in obtaining funding to compensate for their grazing losses.

The funding received kept the ranch from reducing herd numbers by supplementing feed. They’ve reseeded 16 acres of irrigable land with native grass seed for grazing. The Ranch was able to purchase bulk 1,000-pound bales of hay at a discounted price and stockpile it. 100-pound bales were purchased as well from their neighboring sister tribe, the Yavapai Apache Nation in Camp Verde who grow hay on their tribal farm.

The additional resources have helped with planning future programs. The Ranch has set aside 3 steers to feed and butcher for a tribal community event later in 2016. The Tribe’s Ag-Consultant would like to have tribal members sample their grass-fed beef and to show them the potential for the tribe to market “Yavpe’ Beef” and to also open a butcher shop, operated and owned by the tribe.

Teresa Honga | IAC’s Western Region Technical Assistance Specialist | teresa@IndianAgLink.com | 928-302-6835

 

IAC Pacific Region Success

In March of 2017, IAC Pacific Region collaborated with NRCS-CA to design a Tribal conservation planning and USDA programs session for Tribes in Southern California. The daylong event brought representatives from eleven Nations together to work with NRCS field staff to identify natural resource concern priority areas for the coming year. The event date was strategically positioned within the NRCS-CA application batching period calendar, to enable Tribes who were interested in applying for EQIP to have the time necessary to complete conservation plans and apply for contracts. Many of the Tribes represented at the planning and programs session had active contracts with NRCS-CA already. The event enabled both Tribal land managers and NRCS staff to check in with each other on contract items, technical considerations, timelines, and to plan for future contracting.

For Tribes new to NRCS, the event format paired Tribal land managers with NRCS field staff to identify natural resource concern priority areas, enabling important conversations around the conservation planning process, resource concern issues, and other programmatic considerations to take place. After the productive conversations in March, follow-up NRCS visits with both the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians and the La Jolla of Luiseno Indians lent to nearly $320,000 in EQIP contracts concerning fuels load reduction, forest stand improvements, and erosion reduction.

Keir Johnson-Reyes | IAC’s Pacific Region Technical Assistance Specialist | keir@IndianAgLink.com | 916-995-3209

 

Seneca Nation High Tunnel Project

In early 2015 the Seneca Nation applied for funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) High Tunnel System. High tunnels, or hoop houses, are structures that extend the growing season of edible and/or decorative plants by providing shelter from the elements.

As their name implies, high tunnels are most often constructed from semicircular metal hoops covered in polyethylene plastic. Because they are not heated as greenhouses are and rely, instead, on passive solar heating, they are much less expensive to construct and operate than traditional greenhouses.

With EQIP funding, the Seneca Nation purchased and installed a high tunnel at the Nation’s two residential territories. The story does not end there, however. The Seneca Nation has put a unique spin on its High Tunnel Project, with the produce in each of these structures being cultivated by young Seneca students. Construction on the high tunnel at the Allegany Territory’s Faithkeepers School concluded in June of 2017, and already the school’s students are growing strawberries, a variety of lettuces, squash, peppers, cucumbers, kale, and beans. With the help of NRCS Big Flats Plant Materials Center, Intertribal Agriculture Council’s Youth Leaders also transplanted sweetgrass into the high tunnel, adding a culturally significant medicinal plant to the garden.

The high tunnels offer students an extended period of time during the year to cultivate plants and to learn that their efforts will produce foods that can form a major component of a healthy diet. Health issues continue to plague the Seneca Nation and other Native Nations. Indigenous peoples no longer rely upon the foods of their ancestors to provide them with strength: their diet is now filled with the high concentrations of sugar, salt, and fat that characterize modern eating habits. As a result, the good health of Native people has suffered and has led to unprecedented rates of nutrition-related diseases, including diabetes and heart disease. The high tunnels are providing a vehicle that can contribute to changing this trend, with the youngest members of the Nation helping to lead the way to better nutrition.

The high tunnels have a significance beyond their agricultural worth. They serve – in a very real way – as a connection to the past and a promise for the future. For millennia, Native peoples’ genetic makeup was largely determined by the foods and medicines of their ancestors. Over the past few centuries, this relationship with the land and its bounty has been fractured. High tunnels provide a link to the time-honored traditions of the past, when growing food was a communal activity and healthy diets were the norm rather than the exception.

The continuation of traditional Seneca teachings, especially the Seneca language, forms the key component of young students’ learning at the Faithkeepers School. Cultivation of crops in the high tunnels help contribute to these efforts: youngsters have the opportunity to learn the Seneca names of the crops being grown, as well as the cultivation techniques being practiced, in a hands-on environment that encourages both participation and learning.

Lea Zeise | IAC’s Eastern Region Technical Assistance Specialist | lea@IndianAgLink.com | 608-630-2100

 

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