People of the Land II: Sustaining Agriculture on American Indian Lands in the Four-Corners Region

Final Report for EW11-006

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2011: $71,057.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2013
Region: Western
State: Nevada
Principal Investigator:
Staci Emm
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
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Project Information


This professional development program involves American Indian agricultural producers from the four-corners region from start to finish in the planning, design, implementation and educational outreach to satisfy human food and fiber needs on American Indian reservation lands. This program will increase agricultural professionals’ knowledge, skills and action related to American Indian sustainable agriculture. Sustaining the economic viability of American Indian agricultural operations and their communities on American Indian reservations requires agricultural professionals to learn how to develop outreach plans that enhance quality of life for Indian farmers and ranchers and society as a whole.

Project Objectives:

This professional development program led by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension had three primary objectives.

  1. Increase the knowledge, skills and actions of USDA and other agricultural and natural resource professionals regarding the cultural, social, political and economic environment relevant to developing sustainable agricultural operations in reservation environments.
  2. Sustain the economic viability of American Indian agricultural operations in the four-corners region (four states) through implementation of USDA programs.
  3. Increase the ability of agricultural professionals to develop effective outreach plans to better fit the needs of a particular reservation environment, tribal culture, and individual Indian agricultural producer.


This Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) professional development program proposal addresses the educational needs of agricultural and natural resource professionals working with American Indian agricultural producers, specifically in the four-corners region, which includes Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.  While almost every reservation works with a USDA agency and agricultural and natural resource professionals, most outreach programs are not tailored to the special challenges facing American Indian agricultural producers. 

This professional development program addressed the anticipated knowledge gap between needs identified by producers and tribes and the USDA. Closing this knowledge gap helps agricultural professionals identify, develop, refine, and implement American Indian educational outreach programs that are better tailored to address the needs of tribal agricultural producers and environmental and natural resource tribal managers on reservation lands. The purpose of creating an educational program based on this type of applied research is to increase the capacity and efficacy of agricultural professionals to work with American Indian agricultural producers.

The program began with primary data collection featuring a needs assessment of American Indian agricultural producers.  The survey instrument and focus groups assessed perceptions of quality of life on reservations as related to agriculture and natural resource management, and identified obstacles and opportunities related to implementing USDA programs on Indian land.


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  • Jeannie Benally
  • Matt Livingston
  • Loretta Singletary

Education & Outreach Initiatives



This outcome-based professional development program involves American Indian agricultural producers from start to finish in the planning, design, implementation and educational outreach to satisfy human food and fiber needs on American Indian reservation lands. This program increases agricultural professionals’ knowledge, skills and action related to American Indian sustainable agriculture targeting the four-corners region.  Sustaining the economic viability of American Indian agricultural operations and  communities on American Indian reservations requires agricultural professionals to learn how to develop outreach plans that enhance quality of life for Indian farmers and ranchers and society as a whole.

In order to implement reserach activities on the Hopi Reservation and the Navajo Nation, a research permit was required from each tribe and then an official Institutional Review Board approved protocol was required from the University of Nevada, Reno.  The Hopi Tribe approved a tribal permit and a University of Nevada, Reno IRB protocol was approved.  A focus group session and then a needs assessment survey was implemented to create a curriculum specifically for the Hop Tribe. Researchers met with the Navajo Nation and were first required to get apprvoal from all 112 chapters on the reservation.  Later, through discussions with a tribal IRB board member, it was requested that all 12 agencies approve the research before a formal Navajo Nation research permit could be approved.  The approval from the 12 agencies was difficult under the time frame of the project.  Researchers decided to still work an a Navajo Nation reserch permit, but focused on creating an educational program for the Hopi Tribe, which had issued a research permit for the project.  Researchers worked with the University of Arizona's Federally Recongized Tribal Extension Program and Hopi tribal staff in completing this project.  The research permit process with the Navajo Nation is still on-going.

Outreach and Publications

Singletary, L., Emm, S., Loma'omvaya, M., Clark, J.; Livingston, M., Johnson, M. and Oden, R.  (2014)  Hopi People of the Land:  Sustaining Agriculture on the Hopi Reservation.  Reno, NV:  University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (CM-14-02).

Outcomes and impacts:

The activities and methods  related to three primary objectives resulting in short, medium, and long-term outcomes. Short-term outcomes were : 1) Knowledge gains about Indian culture, socio-economics, and policies on Indian reservations within the Four Corners region that influence agricultural and natural resource management issues today; 2) Increase in agricultural professionals’ skills to develop effective outreach plans to implement USDA programs on reservations; and 3) Changes in attitudes of USDA professionals in dealing with Indian producers and tribes to implement sustainable agricultural practices.  Medium-term outcomes included: 1)
Increases in interaction between Indian tribes/producers with USDA agricultural and natural resource professionals; and 2) Increases in USDA outreach programming and related services to Indians involved in agriculture and natural resource management in the four-corner region.  Long-term outcomes included: 1) Increased sustainable agricultural production and natural resource management in the Four Corners region; and 2) improvements in quality of life on Indian reservations in the Four Corners region as a result of sustainable agricultural practices.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

The professional development program produced a curriculum for USDA professionals about the Hopi Tribe. The curriculum includes chapters that specifically address the following:  1) The Hopi-our people of long ago; 2) Hopi land base; 3) Hopi tribal governance; 4) Agricultural irrigation and water rights on the Hopi Reservation; 5) Agricultural and natural resource challenges on the Hopi Reservation-  results of a needs assessment; 6) Focus group research methodology and results; and 7) Implementing agricultural and natural resource programs on the Hopi Reservation.

There were 900 copies of the curriculum printed under this project.  There are 100 copies left with the researchers as of 2/24/15.   USDA, NRCS in the State of Arizona requested 6 copies; the Hopi Tribe received 750 copies and implemented the curriculum into the Hopi school system and tribal government; and five copies were sent to USDA, FSA in the State of Arizona. The Hopi tribe distributed 50 copies to the US governments congressional delegation, which included the Secretary of interior, the head of BIA, and Jodi Gillette with the White House. A pdf is pending so that the curriculum can be uploaded online to the WSARE and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension's website.

Quotes about the project:

Tim Grosser, NIFA Program Leader
1994 American Indian Land Grants
Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program

'I just received the “HOPI people of the land” copies  - not having read anything yet, but flipping through - what a great publication !   The color scheme is inviting and the art work is tremendous – that front page – can’t stop looking at it.  nice job !!!   ( i’m a visual kind of guy, so i’ll get around to pursuing the text…).  A wonderful  U-NV Cooperative extension / USDA / SARE and FRTEP collaboration !!!"

Matthew Livingston 
Hopi FRTEP Agent on Hopi Reservation
University of Arizona

“Hopi – People of the Land will serve the Hopi people in different ways.  It provides very concise and useful information for Hopi programs and non-profits for writing grants.  It has attracted the interest of people as a teaching tool and will likely make its way into curriculum at Hopi Jr./Sr. High School in cultural and natural resource classes.  The needs assessment in the books is extremely useful for the Hopi Department of Natural Resources, Hopi Conservation District and University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Hopi Reservation Office when it comes to program planning.”

Clayton Honyumptewa, Director
Department of Natural Resources
The Hopi Tribe

"Ms. Emms: I want to thank you and the Cooperative Extension for the great work you did on the Hopi-People of the Land publication. The publication is very nicely done and we will be able to use it in many ways such as educating the our people and the outside world. The publication was timely as the first people to receive copies were members of the US House Appropriations Committee sub-committee members, Chairman Ken Calvert, California, Vice Chairman Mike Simpson, Idaho, Betty McCollum, Minnesota, Ranking Minority Member, Tom Cole, Oklahoma, Member, Ann Kirkpatrick, Arizona, Member, along with Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewel and Assistant Secretary Kevin Washburn, and their staff. Also the Hopi Tribal Council members. Again, I want to thank you and your staff for a good job on the publication and appreciate this opportunity to work with you all."

LuAnn Leonard, Executive Director Hopi Education Endowment Fund/
Member, Arizona Board of Regents

"Thank you for the opportunity to comment on "Hopi-People of the Land".  I received the booklet about two weeks ago and have already used some of the information in a proposal that my organization submitted yesterday.  To say the least I found the information to be accurate, comprehensive, and useful.  I look forward to encouraging others on it's use and more importantly, knowing how it is being shared with the Hopi youth."



Potential Contributions

Representative from the Hopi Tribe have been very pleased with the results of the project.  A follow-up evaluation is needed for the project to evaluate overall impact.  Researchers are working with the tribe and will hold a training session at a later date.  Requests have been made for a brown bag lunch presentation/or a training event at USDA, NIFA in Washington, D.C. on the People of the Land program.

Researchers will continue to work on the research permit for the Navajo Nation even though funding has ended.  People of the Land is now a national program reaching several professionals within the United States Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Future Recommendations

The biggest obstacle was the inability to get a Navajo Nation permit approved.  Researchers hope that the release of the Hopi curriculum will have an impact in getting the Navajo Nation to approve a research permit in the near future.  The curriculum will be presented with each agency council on the Navajo Nation to show an example of the overall program, even though sometimes, Navajo and Hopi are not always the best of friends.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.