Select Page
Hurricane Harvey Tribal Impact Update

Hurricane Harvey Tribal Impact Update

A presidential disaster declaration is in effect in counties impacted by Hurricane Harvey, an area which includes the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas. The Tribe has no unmet needs according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and water is being provided by the American Red Cross. Louisiana is experiencing heavy rainfall and many parts are saturated from recent storms. The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and other tribes in the Louisiana region have not reported any damages.  

According to the Red Cross, water rescues are ongoing and evacuation orders are in still effect throughout the region. Numerous hospitals and nursing facilities are evacuating patients and residents. All public transportation is at a halt. Schools and airports are closed and hundreds of thousands of people are still without power.  Latest estimates indicate that at least 19,000 people sought refuge in dozens of shelters in Texas and the numbers are expected to increase.  Shelters also are open in Louisiana as bands from the storm move east.

Tribal citizens from many Native nations reside in Houston and the surrounding area, and are likely to be homeless, staying in local shelters and faced with long-term food, clothing and shelter needs. 

The NCAI encourages Indian Country to reach out to assist the unfortunate disaster victims, Native and non-Native, by contributing to the Red Cross.  At this time, financial contributions are need and the best way to support those affected. To make a financial contribution, you can visit the Red Cross or call 1-800-REDCROSS; or visit

NCAI Contact Information: Robert Holden, NCAI Deputy or (202) 466-7767 ext. 221.

Quapaw Tribe announces grand opening of processing plant

Quapaw Tribe announces grand opening of processing plant

The Quapaw Tribe is ready to debut its processing plant to produce USDA-approved bison and cattle meat, the first of its kind for Native American tribes. The $1 million, 25,000-square-foot facility will help make healthy and culturally relevant food available to its members and the surrounding community. The tribe has teamed up with area colleges to provide educational and training opportunities for students.


What: Grand Opening of the Quapaw Processing Plant

When: Thursday, September 7 at 11 am

Where: 59100 E 66 Rd, Quapaw, OK


11 am – Opening remarks

12 pm – Lunch

Tours will be available after lunch.


Please RSVP to Nisa Feagan at (918) 238-4056 or


Overcoming challenges to successfully launch agritourism experiences

Overcoming challenges to successfully launch agritourism experiences

By Dan Moore
American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association
Tribal Agritourism Consultant

Find this article on AIANTA’s website here.

“I’ve never seen it this vibrant and exciting around Agriculture, including Agritourism in Indian Country” – Janie Simms Hipp, Director, Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative

In the past couple months in our agritourism series, we’ve been focusing on the benefits agritourism can bring to tribal communities – from  connecting visitors to the cultural significance of tribal agricultural land and operations, to the potential revenue source that agritourism can present.

Because traditional Native American cultivation and harvesting has not been limited to farms and ranches in the modern sense, tribal agritourism can incorporate a much broader scope. Many communities and entrepreneurs around the country have harnessed travelers’ increasing interest in food and farming as an opportunity to invest in traditional cuisine and practices. Beyond leading to increased community pride, many of these opportunities also provide an effective avenue for perpetuating Native cultures and traditions through education and first-hand experiences.

Janie Simms Hipp, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, is the Director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law. She is a lawyer who has worked on food and agricultural policy since the mid eighties. Because of the excitement and growth in both cultural and agritourism, she has seen a recent uptick in the opportunities in these tourism sectors for tribes: “I’ve never seen it this vibrant and exciting around agriculture, including agritourism, in Indian Country.” Ms. Hipp noted that while agritourism should not be overlooked as an opportunity, it “has to be driven locally.” In short, get your tribal community engaged in building upon the interest in both cultural tourism and agritourism. Use it as an opportunity to explore your cultural ties to food and fiber and to food and fiber production.

Excitement and energy is a great foundation to start from. To increase your likelihood of success, however, it is always wise to consider what challenges and obstacles you might encounter before you begin your journey.  Fortunately, there are many experienced operators and experts to look to for information and great advice.

To identify the pitfalls that have made life difficult for agritourism operators as they have developed their product/programming, consider the following three major categories of challenges:

  1. Liability and regulation
  2. Business planning
  3. Community collaboration

Liability and Regulation

Liability is a significant concern for farmers, ranchers and for those who operate agritourism enterprises.  “A landowner who opens his or her land to the public faces the risk that he or she could be considered liable if an entrant is injured while on the property.”

In offering a tourism experience you are effectively inviting people onto your land. Once a person is invited they are owed what is called “duty-of-care.” Duty-of-care means you are obligated to inform visitors of all potential dangers and must enact efforts to keep the premises safe, such as conducting an assessment of hazards and creating an operations plan. To properly address this heightened standard for agritourism operations, it is also necessary to create a risk management plan, to address issues before they become a problem and an emergency response plan, to know how to treat issues when they arise.

In addition to the general issues associated with inviting people onto your land, you have to ask and answer the question: does it involve food? There is an additional layer of liability and regulation when you are feeding people.

Many states have passed agritourism statutes that protect against “inherent risks” associated with running an agritourism operation. Examples of inherent risks include traveling on uneven ground such as farm fields and entering farm buildings such as barns.

Being a sovereign nation can complicate liability for tribes when it comes to regulation. Hipp cautions, “You can’t assume that you will be protected from liability in all circumstances.  Tribal codes or regulations are necessary due to a general lack of federal regulations because there is often no federal law that apply to agritourism.”

Even though agriculture is one of the most heavily regulated sectors, most of this regulation is happening at the state, county and increasingly local level. How these regulations apply to tribes is complicated. Hipp suggests that tribal governments should create their own codes and regulations to address the real issues agritourism operators will likely face. Her organization has been working on drafting potential language for tribal governance to use for food and agricultural code, specifically in the agritourism area, in addition to a wide range of other subject matters.

Certain federal regulations exist that you may need to consider, such as compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, employment regulations and Animal Welfare.

Because of diverse regulations and the liability considerations specific to your operation, it is important to conduct the due diligence required to ensure a safe and in-compliance operation. This includes researching local codes and regulations, speaking with local officials and consulting with appropriate legal counsel.

Business Planning

Many successful (and unsuccessful) agritourism operators have identified another key pitfall: diving too far into the business before realizing that they are not taking the most effective or efficient path.  In the planning phase, identify legal requirements of compliant agritourism operations and research your insurance requirements.  (Check out for insurance options).  Staffing is another critical component of ensuring success – think strategically of the skills you need as you launch and grow out your agritourism business; skills you currently have and those you will need to hire.

Like any endeavor, there are some skills required to be successful in Agritourism, such as customer service and connecting to the wants and needs of the agritourist. These are not necessarily the same skills required to be successful in agriculture. “One of the keys to a successful agritourism enterprise is your ability to manage the multiple components of your business. These include financial management, accounting, personnel management, operations, marketing, safety, customer service and legal considerations.”

Building out a solid business plan upon inception will ensure that you start on the correct path and “cross bridges” early on while you still have the opportunity to turn back without too much loss. It will also become more apparent what the potential hidden costs are that, left unchecked, could put you out of business. In the next blog post in this series, we’ll dig deeper into creating an agritourism business plan.

Community Collaboration

When comparing successful operations with those that have struggled or failed, I’ve observed a frequent pattern; most successful operations are part of a larger tourism ecosystem. To thrive, agritourism operations are well-suited to be part of regional itineraries that include other agritourism experiences, nearby hotels and resorts, tourism bureaus and/or nearby businesses. This is especially pronounced when there is a nearby hospitality economy to tap into such as a resort, hotel, casino and/or other attractions.

The Quapaw Tribe in northeastern Oklahoma is a great example of this type of collaboration. The tribe is raising bison, goats, cattle, fresh veggies, herbs and honey – much of it making it onto menus at their restaurants and eventually being sold at the Quapaw Mercantile. “Our chefs go out to the greenhouses daily and select the produce they will use that day in the kitchens,” said tribal spokesman Sean Harrison.

Agritourism operations are also benefitting from partnerships with outdoor recreation businesses like hunting, fishing, hiking and bird watching programs. Rural areas have great assets for all of these activities and recreationalists are often looking for other attractions to visit like a farm stand, you pick farm or a “farm-to-table” meal; or they just need basic services like lodging. Connecting and collaborating with tour companies, destination marketing organizations and outdoor associations are great ways to bring in business while filling a need for others.

Nancy Gaynor learned a lot about the rewards and challenges of building an agritourism business. For 17 years she operated a working ranch, first near Whitefish, MT, and then on the Flathead Reservation. The ranches received a significant amount of their revenue from agritourism including: Western themed steak dinners, daily trail rides, unique lodging and visits from bus-tours passing through the area. A significant percentage of her visitors were international. To attract this audience it is necessary to have a robust tourism ecosystem. Nancy learned about the importance of collaboration when she found success partnering with local hotels, tour companies and other local restaurants. They all frequently sent each other business and depended on each other’s success to be a more attractive destination.

However, she found, when local businesses did not have the same spirit of collaboration, the whole region suffered.  By building a tourism community, partnerships build on the regions success.

At times, the Gaynors have also faced challenges with regulations and fees. For example: n one of their operations they had to pay a fee for each person going on a trail ride, making it difficult to compete with operations outside of the immediate area. This can be compounded if not all tourism activities face the same fees, thus making certain activities less competitive than others.

Despite the challenges she faced, Nancy is very enthusiastic for people to engage in agritourism. When asked her advice for new entrepreneurs she says: “Go for it! Do the simple things; don’t go into a lot of debt. Make it clean. Paint goes a long way.” Most importantly, “Keep [the business] true to yourself.” She greatly enjoyed meeting people from all over the world – over 61 different countries visited the ranch.

As is the case in many rural locations, connecting businesses to funding and investment can have an enormous impact on building out a stronger tourism economy.

All of the experts I’ve spoken with highlight, like with any business venture, there are real challenges to overcome in both culinary tourism and agritourism – in addition to the challenges farmers and ranchers already face. However, these challenges are far from insurmountable.

Tribes and tribal businesses with strong agritourism models have been successful by recognizing the challenges and liabilities in the development phase and incorporating those challenges within their business plan. Local and tribal governments play an important role in enacting agritourism-friendly regulation that allows agri-businesses to harness the growing interest in agritourism. Most importantly, success comes when collaboration occurs with the broader tribal and business community. The ability for travelers to connect to the agricultural products and practices is a powerful experience that is meaningful for visitor and resident alike.

As a final note, there will be several presentations discussing Indigenous Foods and Agritourism at the upcoming American Indian Tourism Conference in Green Bay, September 11-14. Plan to continue the discussion in person. Visit to learn more and to register for the conference.

Pacific Region Native Youth Summit seeks applications

Pacific Region Native Youth Summit seeks applications

The Pacific Regional Summit will bring Native Youth ages 15-18 together for a one-of-a-kind learning experience about the issues they will be facing as the next generation of food & agriculture leaders in the Pacific region. This program is open to both enrolled Tribal youth and Tribal descendants.

For questions or more information, contact Kelsey Ducheneaux at

What:  Pacific Region Native Youth in Food and Agriculture Leadership Summit


When:  October 12 – 15, 2017


Where:  Comfort Suites Woodland, 2080 Freeway Dr, Woodland CA 95776




DRAFT agenda


Thursday, October 12, 2017

9:00am-4:00pm       Student Arrivals

2:00pm-4:30pm       Check-in/get settled/Hand out binders

4:30pm                      Travel to Woodland Community College (WCC) Welcome Reception Site

5:00pm                      Welcome Reception hosted by Woodland Community College Ethnic Studies in collaboration with Yocha Dehe Cultural Department

  • Opening Prayer, Welcome, Local Culture Share by local elder
  • Introductions IAC Staff
  • Ice breakers
  • Logistics for evening
  • Hoopa Acorn Processing Demonstration, Meagen Baldy

5:30pm                      Presentations/Traditional Singers

6:30pm                      Potluck dinner (WCC & UCD)

7:30pm                      Craft activities and demonstrations (Local/Regional)

9:30pm                      Youth assist with clean up

10:00pm                    Depart for hotel

10:15pm-10:30pm  Quiet Time

10:30pm                    LIGHTS OUT!!!


Friday, October 13, 2017

6:30am                      Rise and Shine

7:30am                      Breakfast at hotel- Meet downstairs at 7:30am sharp!!!

8:15am                      Travel to University of California, Davis Arboretum

8:40am                      Arrive at University of California, Davis Arboretum

9:00am-12:00pm     Hands-on Native plants propagation activity with Arboretum staff

  • Maidu Summit Consortium Traditional Plants Presentation
  • Plant propagation/potting training
  • Implementation!

12:15pm-1:15pm    Lunch at UC Davis Tercero Dining Commons

1:15pm                      UC Davis Native Student College Readiness Panel (TENTITIVE)

3:00pm                      Presentations at UC Davis Alumni Center

  • NRCS Presentation
  • Youth Presentations

5:30pm                      Dinner

6:30pm                      Evening Activity

9:45pm                      Depart for hotel

10:00pm-10:30pm  Quiet Time

10:30pm                    LIGHTS OUT!!!


Saturday, October 14, 2017

7:00am          Rise and Shine

8:00am          Breakfast at Comfort Suites, Woodland

9:00am          Drive to Seka Hills Olive Mill, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation

9:45am          Arrival

10:00am        Tour of Olive Mill (hand out snacks- lunch at 1pm)

11:00am        Hands-On Olive Oil Demonstration

  • Youth will work with Jim Etters’s staff to pick olives around Seka Hills property
  • Olives will be aggregated and put through cold-press
  • Oil will be bottled and labeled
  • Discussion on value added production and marketing

1:00pm          Lunch

2:00pm          Yocha Dehe Cultural Afternoon/Evening

  • Hand Games
  • Singers
  • Traditional Foods Demonstrations
  • 4 Traditional foods hands-on demonstration stations
  • Youth will rotate in small groups to each station, spending 25 min at each station, learning about traditional foods, practices, stories, processing, songs,                                       seasonal management/practices, and cultural significance of each highlighted

6:30pm          Blessing and Traditional Meal Buffet Style

7:30pm          Traditional Group-Oriented Games

8:00pm          Culture Sharing Event

  • Youth are invited to share a song, a dance, a quick game, a short story, discuss an article of clothing, a prayer, or anything relating to their Tribal community

9:00pm          Local Singers facilitate a friendship dance/round dance for all participants

  • A time for youth to offer songs may be added if appropriate

10:00pm        Closing


Sunday, October 15, 2017

7:00am          Rise and Shine

8:00am          Breakfast at Comfort Suites, Woodland

8:45am          Depart for Yocha Dehe

9:30am          Yocha Dehe Department of Education Presents- Seed Saving Lab

12:00pm-1:00pm    Lunch

1:00pm          Conclusion of summit- See you next year!!

$52 Million in Federal Funding To Bolster Tribal, State Wildlife Conservation Projects

$52 Million in Federal Funding To Bolster Tribal, State Wildlife Conservation Projects

Deadline: September 1, 2017

The Department of Interior  announced more than $52 million in funding to Native American tribes and state wildlife agencies through the Tribal Wildlife Grant (TWG) program and the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program. 

Tribal Wildlife Grants are used to provide technical and financial assistance to Tribes for the development and implementation of programs that benefit fish and wildlife resources and their habitat. Activities may include, but are not limited to, planning for wildlife and habitat conservation, fish and wildlife conservation and management actions, fish and wildlife related laboratory and field research, natural history studies, habitat mapping, field surveys and population monitoring, habitat preservation, conservation easements, and public education that is relevant to the project. The funds may be used for salaries, equipment, consultant services, subcontracts, acquisitions and travel.

The wide variation in the types of projects funded  is highlighted by this year’s awards: In Oklahoma, the Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma received $155,000 to support a bat conservation project, while in New Mexico, the Pueblo of Tesuque received nearly $200,000 for its Mule Deer Management and Habitat Enhancement Program. In Washington, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians received nearly $200,000 for habitat enhancement and population monitoring of the South Rainier elk herd. In North Carolina, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians received $200,000 to support implementation of their wildlife action plan. In Maine, the Penobscot Indian Nation received $200,000 to support Atlantic salmon and other fisheries management on tribal trust lands. A complete list of the 2017 Tribal Wildlife Grant awards can be found here.

TWG funds are provided exclusively to fund wildlife conservation by federally recognized Native American tribal governments, and are made possible under the Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2002 through the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program. Proposals for the 2018 grant cycle are due September 1, 2017.

The Native American Liaisons serve as a point of contact in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for Tribal conservation issues. 

For additional information about Native American conservation projects and the Tribal Wildlife Grants application process, visit  or

Northwest Native Youth Summit accepting applications

Northwest Native Youth Summit accepting applications

This year’s Northwest Native Youth in Food and Agriculture Leadership Summit will be held September 9 – 11, 2017, at the Wildhorse Resort in Pendleton, Oregon.

We look forward to receiving your application and learning more about your interest in food and agriculture. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until all seats at the event have been filled. We encourage you apply ASAP to be considered for the travel scholarship opportunity.

  • Open to ages 15 and older
  • Leadership roles open to college-aged students
  • Limited travel scholarships available
  • Apply early!

Click here to fill out and submit your application.