19 Keepseagle Fast-Track Grants Awarded

First Nations Awards 19 Keepseagle Fast-Track Program Grants to Support Native American Farmers and Ranchers

LONGMONT, Colorado (September 21, 2020) – First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) today announced the 2020 round of 19 grantees under its Keepseagle Fast-Track Grants to Support Native Farmers & Ranchers Program. This grant program is an outgrowth of the Keepseagle vs. Vilsack case that spanned more than 18 years in federal litigation.

The Keepseagle Fast-Track grant program falls under First Nations’ existing Native Agriculture & Food Systems Initiative. Grants will provide much-needed assistance to grow or expand programs and services to organizations in Native communities that serve Native farmers, ranchers and food producers. 

The following grantees will each receive grants of $30,000:

1. Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Ajo, Arizona

The organization will help retain tribal agricultural practices and cultural traditions through six new workshops, field trips and farm swaps, a gathering, and farmer-to-farmer networking. The project will outline best practices for hands-on training, mentoring and classroom-style education. 

2. American Indian Resource Center, Tahlequah, Oklahoma 

The Soy STEM Project will serve Native youth by introducing and teaching basic permaculture farming. Four camps will be held throughout the project year focused on raised beds with a hoop house, pollination (bees), landscape mapping, Indigenous land management, plant functions, climatic change, soils, natural propagation, garden contours, cleaning, and composting.

3. Ben Farms, Shiprock, New Mexico 

Ben Farms is an Indigenous-owned and -operated, multigenerational family farm on the Navajo Nation. Their mission is to cultivate neeshjhizhii (dry steamed Navajo white corn) that will nourish the body, mind and spirit. Their youth mentorship program shares traditional growing practices with local Navajo youth who have been subjected to significant trauma to foster healing, improve farming skills and promote entrepreneurship. 

4. Brave Heart Society, Lake Andes, South Dakota 

To build a more land-based sovereign survival structure, the Brave Heart Society will create a Dakota Farm Beginnings training program for new Native farmers. They currently have a partnership with Dakota Rural Action in South Dakota whereby they have promoted solar power in farm and tribal communities. With this Keepseagle funding, they will extend this partnership to adapt and present a culturally specific farm training program. 

5. California Indian Museum & Cultural Center, Santa Rosa, California 

Youth from tribal communities in rural/remote Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Counties in Northern California will learn how to create and use cold water leaching stations to process acorns in their acorn foods social enterprise. The youth will develop an educational video and conduct an event to train 10 community members in this method, thereby developing and increasing local producer capacity.

6. Center for Popular Research, Education and Policy, Fort Washakie, Wyoming 

This project will support the development, organization, training and operation of a producer-owned cooperative on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The project will serve farmers and ranchers on the Wind River Reservation, both Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho. These producers include home gardeners and ranchers. 

7. Chippewa Cree Indians of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, Box Elder, Montana

The Chippewa Cree Tribal Range will purchase a Portable Corral System and a Hydraulic Squeeze Chute to assist in outreach efforts and services to ranchers. The corral will provide local ranchers with a more efficient means to aid in animal health issues and potential diseases by reducing transportation costs to veterinarian hospitals in the area.

8. College of the Menominee Nation, Inc., Keshena, Wisconsin 

The Menominee Tribal community will be served through increased produce at the local farmers market. The college, which has run the market since its inception, will give local growers and farmers the opportunity to market their locally grown produce. This program will provide a stipend and gardening resources to individuals interested in producing specific vegetables. 

9. Covenant Pathways, Vanderwagen, New Mexico 

Covenant Pathways has developed a demonstration farm, Spirit Farm, which utilizes regenerative farming practices that heal the hard southwestern soil and recover and reclaim traditional farming and spiritual practices. Each year they hold workshops in Navajo and Zuni communities, assist Navajo and Zuni members with gardens and farms, and employ members from both tribes to learn and work at the farm.

10. Forest County Potawatomi Community, Cranden, Wisconsin 

The Forest County Potawatomi Community will purchase maple sugaring equipment and expand the Tribe’s food sovereignty. The project will increase the community’s capacity to produce maple syrup and maple value-added products, which have been a traditional food staple. The farm will process members’ sap with the equipment, or offer to exchange maple sap for other farm products. 

11. Fort Peck Community College, Poplar, Montana 

Fort Peck Community College Agricultural Department will provide outreach to Native American farmers and ranchers on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, with an emphasis on engaging young people in careers in farming and ranching and sustaining the culture of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribe as a horsemanship tribe.

12. Lakota Youth Development, Herrick, South Dakota 

Lakota Youth Development’s Honey Lodge is a youth-led social enterprise that develops entrepreneurial skills of youth of the Rosebud Indian Reservation. This project gives resources to leaders to begin their own home grounds projects within their families’ 2.5-acre land allotments. The goal is for Lakota youth to be able to introduce culturally relevant and sustainable home grounds or small business plans as they weave traditional Lakota values, plants, and herbs into their daily lives.

13. Makoce Agriculture Development, Porcupine, South Dakota 

Makoce Agriculture Development has acquired a mobile poultry processing unit (MPPU) that will be the first certified poultry processing system on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The MPPU will create an accessible and certified unit that will give producers a system to create locally sourced poultry. Through this equipment, Makoce Agriculture Development will be the initial incubator for local production growth and an integral part of developing a local food supply chain and food system.

14. NACDC Financial Services Inc., Browning, Montana 

NACDC Financial Services (NACDCFS) has been working to grow and strengthen Native American farmers and ranchers on eight reservation communities by helping them increase financial and business skills. NACDCFS will offer Native farmers and ranchers a suite of wrap-around services that include Native Ag Resource & Training Days, customized one-on-one technical assistance, and direct access to capital.

15. Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce, Kyle, South Dakota 

Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce (PRACC) will facilitate the revitalization of the Oglala Stockgrowers and Landowners Association (OSLA). Previously, there were an estimated 125 Oglala ranchers and landowners with no group solely dedicated to protecting their interests. Customized training for members could also impact the Tribal agriculture industry and, in turn, the Reservation food system. PRACC will help OSLA become a legal entity to increase the capacity of all stock growers and landowners.

16. Stockbridge Munsee Community, Inc., Bowler, Wisconsin 

The Growing Future Farmers Project serves farmers of the Stockbridge-Munsee Community by creating hands-on learning experiences. The project supports workshops, tours, and an apprenticeship program to increase knowledge of sustainable fruit and vegetable production. This project shares information on traditional growing methods and new technologies and creates opportunities for participants to be involved in the Tribe’s demonstration farm.

17. The Quapaw Tribe of Indians, Quapaw, Oklahoma

The Quapaw Internship Program ensures Native Americans are prepared for careers in agriculture by providing internships to at least four individuals. Interns have the opportunity to develop individual goals and interest areas that will help determine their placement within the Quapaw Tribe. By the end of the project, each intern will gain experience proposing, implementing, and reporting on a project of their choosing.

18. White Mountain Apache Tribe, Ndee Bikiya – The People’s Farm, Ft. Apache, Arizona  

Ndee Bikiyaa Market Development Project is creating a co-op of community farmers and ranchers to provide local food products to Ndee Bikiyaa Market. This project will create economic opportunities and support farmers and ranchers in selling their products to the community and growing the local food system.

19. Wind River Development Fund, Ft. Washakie, Wyoming

Wind River Development Fund is an educational resource and financial institution supporting Native ranchers and farmers on the Wind River Reservation. This project will use First Nations’ Business of Indian Agriculture curriculum in classes at the Frank B. Wise Center. As a certified Native CDFI, Wind River Development Fund is also increasing its focus on providing agriculture loans, boosting technical assistance, and publicizing capital access opportunities.

About First Nations Development InstituteFor 40 years, using a three-pronged strategy of educating grassroots practitioners, advocating for systemic change, and capitalizing Indian communities, First Nations has been working to restore Native American control and culturally-compatible stewardship of the assets they own – be they land, human potential, cultural heritage or natural resources – and to establish new assets for ensuring the long-term vitality of Native American communities. First Nations serves Native American communities throughout the United States. For more information, visit


Rebecca Tortes, Program Officer or (951) 265-7822

Amy Jakober, Senior Communications Officer or (303) 774-7836