Dull Knife Instructor Opening USDA Doors

Nov 15th, 2000 | By | Category: 12-2: Land is Life, Tribal College News

Dull Knife Memorial College has taken a leadership role in several efforts designed to benefit all of the tribal colleges’ and universities’ land grant activities. In 1994, Congress designated the tribal colleges and universities as land grant institutions, making them eligible for many new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and services. James Hafer directs the agriculture and natural resources program at Dull Knife, the tribal college on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana. He and Virgil Dupuis of Salish Kootenai College helped an Indian consulting firm, RJS & Associates, to develop and distribute agriculture curriculum to all the tribal colleges, high schools, and Extension Indian Reservation Agents.

The curriculum is rich with Native American history in agriculture, including livestock, land use, and water, according to Hafer. It includes a three-volume book and CDs. American Indian agricultural producers have had less access to educational, technical, and financial services of the USDA. In fact, the department has been accused of discriminating against American Indians in recent civil rights reports and lawsuits. RJS & Association received funding from the USDA in 1998 to establish the curriculum specifically for the risk management needs of American Indian farmers and ranchers. Some of the material is designed for workshops, and the rest is designed as college level courses.

In 1999, Hafer received a fellowship from the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service and spent the summer working and studying with federal staff in Washington, D.C. Hafer is one of several tribal college instructors who have been fellows. During his fellowship summer, he began work to help tribal colleges become more involved in USDA’s water quality program. He is studying the barriers to tribal colleges’ participation in the program and how to overcome them. Hafer was appointed to USDA’s National Advisory Leadership Team, which is composed of representatives of various land grant and sea grant institutions. Representing the tribal colleges and universities, he hopes to promote their eligibility for more USDA grants and programs.

Anyone interested in more information about the curriculum should contact Neal Rosette at RJS toll-free at 888/ 838-4757.

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