Current Projects

Keepseagle Fast-Track Grant Program

In 2018 First Nations launched a new grant program to support Native American farmers and ranchers. This grant program is an outgrowth of the Keepseagle v. Vilsack case that spanned more than 18 years in federal litigation. Funding for the effort comes to First Nations from the Keepseagle-related Native American Agriculture Fast-Track Fund (NAAFTF).

First Nations’ effort – known as the “Keepseagle Fast-Track Grants to Support Native Farmers & Ranchers” – falls under First Nations’ existing Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI). Under the new program, First Nations awards grants to organizations in Native communities, with the goal of growing and/or expanding direct services to and/or programs that serve or directly collaborate with Native American farmers and ranchers.

Selected grantees must use the funding to support projects in Native communities with the goal of growing and/or expanding services or programs to Native American farmers and ranchers. Examples of allowable activities under this funding opportunity include, but are not limited to:

  • Native farmer and rancher trainings
  • Capacity and skill-building services offered to producers
  • Cooperative management programs
  • Projects that focus on multiple producers
  • Intergenerational or youth-focused farming and ranching programs
  • Engaging farmers and ranchers in plans for local food-system control
  • Program focused on increasing business operations or access to capital
  • Projects connecting farms to market opportunities, technical assistance and more

The first grants under the Keepseagle initiative were awarded in 2019.

2020 Grantees

Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Ajo, Arizona, $30,000

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.

American Indian Resource Center, Tahlequah, Oklahoma, $30,000

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.

Ben Farms, Shiprock, New Mexico, $30,000

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.

Brave Heart Society, Lake Andes, South Dakota, $30,000

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.

California Indian Museum & Cultural Center, Santa Rosa, California, $30,000

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.

Center for Popular Research, Education and Policy, Fort Washakie, Wyoming, $30,000

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.

Chippewa Cree Indians of the Rocky Boy's Reservation, Box Elder, Montana, $30,000

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.

College of the Menominee Nation, Inc., Keshena, Wisconsin, $30,000

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.

Covenant Pathways, Vanderwagen, New Mexico, $30,000

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.

Forest County Potawatomi Community, Cranden, Wisconsin, $30,000

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.

Fort Peck Community College, Poplar, Montana, $30,000

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.

Lakota Youth Development, Herrick, South Dakota, $30,000

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.

Makoce Agriculture Development, Porcupine, South Dakota, $30,000

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.

NACDC Financial Services Inc., Browning, Montana, $30,000

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.

Pine Ridge Area Chamber of Commerce, Kyle, South Dakota, $30,000

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.

Stockbridge Munsee Community, Inc., Bowler, Wisconsin, $30,000

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.

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.

White Mountain Apache Tribe, Ndee Bikiya – The People’s Farm, Ft. Apache, Arizona, $30,000

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.

Wind River Development Fund, Ft. Washakie, Wyoming, $30,000

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.

2019 Grantees

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. This grant was partially funded by Agua Fund.

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. A portion of this grant was funded by Agua Fund.

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.