In Oregon, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs has submitted a plan to the USDA to start a hemp program. The plan would jumpstart job creation after several tribal run entities recently closed.
Warm Springs is one of the 11 tribes to have submitted a hemp plan to the USDA, while Oregon has submitted a state plan as well.
With 150 workers out of a job after the Kah-Nee-Ta resort closed a year ago, and 85 workers unemployed when the tribe’s timber mill closed in 2016, the employment prospects are very welcome.
Tribe members approved a plan in 2015 to have a 100% owned, operated, and regulated cannabis project on the reservation. In 2016 they held a ceremony after the plan was voted in with an 86% approval rating.
“It was a good turnout, and overwhelmingly, the voters supported the development of a cannabis business. The plan was to have a farm and a few stores. Then nothing happened,” Dustin Seyler told the press. Seyler works for the Community Action Team which helps small businesses owned by tribal members.
Leaders of the tribe became skittish because of how cloudy the regulation for the industry was. At the time it was legal in the state, but illegal federally.
The other tribes that have already submitted plans include the Flandreau Santee Sioux (South Dakota), Fort Belknap Reservation (Montana), the La Jolla Band of Luisenon Indians (California), Navajo Nation, Oglala Sioux (South Dakota), Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, Pueblo of Picuris (New Mexico), Santa Rosa Cahuilla (California), Santee (Nebraska) and the Yurok Tribe (California).
With so much hope for what the program can do for the community, frustration over how slowly things have moved is mounting.
“It’s been frustrating for those who think it can be a good boost for the economy,” Seyler said. “When you look at what you can do with it, there are many possibilities.”