Bozeman, Mont., Dec. 7, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development in Montana State Director Kathleen Williams announced today that the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana became one of the first nationwide to receive a $191,000 grant through the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing Grant Program.
This grant program is designed to support the priorities of Tribal Nations in reducing nutrition insecurity, as well as expanding and enhancing indigenous animal and meat processing capacity on Tribal lands.
“I am so pleased that USDA can continue to help expand native/Native capacity for economic development, in this case supporting meat processing facilities in the Fort Peck Tribal community. This project will advance Tribal food sovereignty and help increase the availability of affordable, healthy protein sources that were a staple of Tribal food systems for generations as well as support producers across the region,” Williams said. “USDA is proud to support programs like this that advance Tribal and Indigenous interests, as well as adjacent communities.”
As one of four Tribal nations in the US to receive this grant, the Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes will use funds to purchase a composter and walk-in freezer for the new Fort Peck meat processing facility, where they process bison, elk, deer, antelope, and pheasant.
This project will give people on the Reservation a local Tribal-owned business for their meat processing and storage needs. The upgraded facility will also give the Fort Peck Tribes’ Fish and Game Department a local place to take bison to be processed and distributed to families in need.
Other Tribal Nations receiving grant funding through this program include the Alutiiq Tribe of Old Harbor in Alaska, the Tribal Government of St. Paul Island in Alaska, and the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation in southern Oregon and northern California.
Designed to support priorities voiced by Tribal Nations during consultations held over two years, this grant program seeks to expand processing opportunities using modern and traditional harvesting methods for animals native to North America such as bison, reindeer, and salmon.
The program reflects a commitment to work in partnership with Tribal Nations to advance prosperity and dignity for all Native peoples and support building a fairer, more competitive, and more resilient food system by supporting local farms and businesses.
Rural Development provides loans, grants, and loan guarantees to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs, and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural and Tribal areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements, business development, housing, community facilities and high-speed internet access in rural, Tribal, and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.
USDA Rural Development has six offices in Montana – Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, and Missoula. To learn more about investment resources for rural areas in Montana, call (406) 585-2587 or visit www.rd.usda.gov/mt.