The Native American Agriculture Fund in Fayetteville, Arkansas, has announced grants totaling $10 million to more than eighty projects working to advance the success of Native farming and ranching.
The funds will be used to catalyze Native-led agricultural projects in Native communities. Grant recipients include the San Xavier District of the Tohono O'odham Nation in Tucson, Arizona, which will use its funding to develop a local food marketplace that celebrates traditional foods and creates local business opportunities; the Thomas Center Entrepreneurship HUB at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, which will use the funds to provide programming for local agricultural entrepreneurs, conduct research on the feasibility of industrial hemp production in the area, and develop a summer outreach program; and the Modoc Nation in Miami, Oklahoma, which will expand its educational offerings to Native farmers, including teaching them controlled environment agriculture (CEA) techniques and helping them reclaim traditional food knowledge.
NAAF emerged from a settlement stemming from Keepseagle v. Vilsack, a class-action lawsuit which alleged that loan programs and servicing operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture engaged in discriminatory practices against Native American farmers and ranchers going back to 1981. After the settlement of the case in 2010, NAAF was established in 2018 as a charitable trust and received more than $200 million to be dispersed over twenty years.
"It is so rewarding to see the number of efforts across the country and the breadth and depth of the work," said NAAF program committee chair Sherry Salway Black. "And this is just the beginning."