Amending the Wrongs Done to Native American Agriculture

If you take a glance at my last blog post you can get a quick history lesson of Native American agriculture.  How they progressed by domesticating wild edible plants and animals and adopting sustainable farming practices to regressing to hardly no farming at all by 1960, due to the colonization of America by the Europeans.  We gave them marginal lands, forced our practices upon them, yet didn’t give them the necessary education and technology to be efficient in modern agriculture.  This caused a dramatic decrease in the amount of farming done by Native peoples.  Often times having whole reservations without farming.

However, in the past several decades we have started trying to assist Native peoples in being more productive commercial growers.  Such as the establishment of two acts that protect and enhance Native American agriculture and natural resources.  These being the American Indian Agricultural Resource Act and the Protection of Indians and Natural Resources Act.  Each of these acts protect Native American agricultural land and natural resources.  The Agricultural Resource Act does so by implementing programs to enhance Native rangeland and agricultural land, increasing Native management of lands, and opening federal positions for Native Americans in the fields agriculture and natural resources.  The other part of the act increases education opportunities in agriculture and natural resource fields of Natives through scholarships, extension outreach, and training programs.  These acts along with others have caused an 88% increase in Native American farmers between 2002 and 2007 and according to the USDA census of agriculture Native Americans produced 1.4 billion dollars in agricultural commodities in 2007.  This is great news for the Native American community, but we can’t stop there.  Still only 75% of Native American agricultural lands is being farmed.  With only 50% of that meeting its full production capability.  Not to mention 1.1 million acres of Native lands could be farmed but never has.

Due to these issues, we need to increase government support through acts like the Ag Resource act, and increase agriculture educational opportunities and jobs for Native youth, perhaps buy more agricultural lands for Natives to farm, have an increase in interaction of consultant and support organizations such as Cooperative Extension and Natural Resource Conservation Service with Native growers, and perhaps include government grants giving Native growers the most up to date technology and information so they can be as efficient and have the largest profit margin possible.  If we can fix the Reservations broken agricultural system I believe this could put Native Americans on the road to recovery in the United States.  After all the first step in converting a developing country into a developed one is converging their agricultural system from a subsistence one to a commercial one with high profit.  I believe the same idea could be applied to the American Indian Nations.

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