TCUs Trade Crop Ideas Around Globe

May 15th, 2005 | By | Category: 16-4: International Indigenous Education, Tribal College News

WAR DANCE. Students from Maori wänanga in New Zealand came to the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) this year as part of an ongoing exchange between the institutions. The students were accompanied by an elder, Marie Panapa, who created this acrylic painting, Haka, which now hangs in the office of IAIA President Della Warrior. Last year IAIA students attended one of the Maori colleges for 6 weeks.

The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has arranged for several tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) to get involved in international agricultural research projects over the years, according to Calvina Dupre, an FAS agricultural research advisor who has facilitated many of the exchanges.

Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI, Albuquerque, NM) and Sandia National Laboratory are collaborating with researchers in Chihuahua, Mexico, on a 3-year research project.

In Mexico, over 150 hydroponic greenhouses are successfully producing forage for livestock. SIPI’s Land Grant University Demonstration Farm is investigating the feasibility of such protected agriculture techniques for use in arid lands of the western United States.

Their research involves quantifying the performance of various forage crops and monitoring water use of the hydroponic forage production systems in order to estimate the water savings compared with traditional field-grown production.

The College of Menominee Nation in Wisconsin (CMN, Keshena, WI) initiated a scientific exchange to develop long-term collaborative research with counterparts at Galen University in Belize, Central America. (It is described elsewhere in the On Campus Shorts in this issue.)

They compared the rich temperate forests of the Great Lakes Basin and the sub-tropical rainforests of the Yucatan Peninsula. This international partnership could benefit timber-rich North American Indian tribes.

Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College (Baraga, MI) staff visited China in May 2002 to research the interrelationship of forestry and fisheries industries and their impact on community environments and economics.

Blackfeet Community College (Browning, MT), Chief Dull Knife Memorial College (Lame Deer, MT), and Oglala Lakota College (Kyle, SD) joined USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and FAS scientists in 2002 on an exchange visit to Japan, China, and Hong Kong. They shared their unique cultural traditions, including sustainable management of traditional and indigenous plants.

The team compared their strategies for ecosystem recovery and native plant use with the practices used in a similar climate of Inner Mongolia. They also conducted buffalo research in southern China.

Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (Cloquet, MN) and Blackfeet Community College (Browning, MT) participated in a scientific exchange to China in 2002 on sustainable agricultural practices. The team compared natural organic cropping techniques, the use of native edible plants, fisheries management and aquaculture projects, and soil and water conservation techniques.

A sustainable rangeland project involves USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service in Arizona, Tohono O’odham Community College (Sells, AZ), and Maoris in New Zealand. The project uses the internet to assess arid and semiarid rangeland health and best practices for sustainable management. It was a 2-year project, 2002-2004.

FAS is also involved in two projects described in the Land Grant Department elsewhere in this issue: Fort Peck Community College’s 2-year (2003-2005) project developing agricultural markets in Asia and Haskell Indian Nations’ University’s 4-year project (2001-2005) with the Altaians in Russia on surface water quality.

For more information, contact Calvina Dupre, FAS agricultural research advisor, at (202) 720-0618 or email

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