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Little Shell Tribe Announces Program To Provide Healthy Food For Tribal Members

Last week, the Little Shell Tribal Council announced a new food sovereignty program to help out tribal members all over the state of Montana. The program will raise cattle and grow vegetables to provide healthier diets for their community.

The Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa bought around 750 acres of co-op farmland in the historic Hill 57 area of Great Falls. The project is funded by the CARES Act in order to help increase access to nutritious foods during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gerald Gray is the chairman of the council and said that the tribe partners with other organizations to deliver food boxes to tribal members who need it most.

“We thought well we’ll start our own food sovereignty program. It is just a start for now. Some cows that we will be able to graze, finish, have them processed and the meat will go to elders and veterans and those in most need,” Gray says.

Chairman Gray said that, historically, Indigenous communities have had less access to fresh vegetables or high protein foods because of historic discrimination, leaving many tribal communities far away from sustainable food systems.

“The governments always run a commodity program, and we just feel that this is a better source of protein for our members that the tribe can do for them,” he said.

The Little Shell Food Sovereignty Program is looking into building greenhouses to start producing vegetables, and eventually, a wild game processing plant to distribute locally hunted venison. The program looks to be in full swing by next summer.

Taylar Stagner is Yellowstone Public Radio's Report for America Indigenous Affairs Reporter.

Taylar Stagner covers tribal affairs for Yellowstone Public Radio.