A northeast Nebraska farming operation is starting the new year with an even bigger commitment to conservation – and they’re hoping other farms take note.
Deborah Van Fleet reports.
Cover cropping and organic farming are already practiced by the Winnebago Tribe’s Ho-Chunk Farms.
And through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service “Eqip” program, they’ll be adding more conservation practices this year.
Farm Senior Manager Aaron LaPointe says they’ve enrolled all 3,500 of their irrigated acres into a technology-driven water conservation program, known as the WaterSmart Initiative.
“There’s lots of equipment that will inform you on your groundwater levels, which alerts you when to irrigate at the optimal time, using the least amount of water. And also, if you’re overwatering, that brings more of an issue when you start talking about leeching of different pesticides and herbicides, and getting things into our groundwater.”
The NRCS shares the up-front costs of water meters, soil-moisture probes, weather stations, and inspecting irrigation pumps to be sure they’re functioning properly.
LaPointe says they’re confident this will be a good long-term investment, both for water and soil health. LaPointe explains they’ve also enrolled all their irrigated acres into another NRCS program to monitor their herbicide and pesticide use.
“It allows you to efficiently use a certain amount of chemical that you need to kill weeds without overdoing it. Because any excess that you spray could eventually end up in groundwater or causing other issues in other things.”
Ho-Chunk Farms is part of the Winnebago Tribe’s economic development corporation. It will plant nearly 7,000 acres this year. One-thousand will be cover crops, and another thousand will have organically certified crops.
LaPointe says they hope their successes will encourage other farmers to take a look at what the NRCS offers.
“We, personally, might sit here and say, ‘Well, is our 3,500 acres really making a difference?’ But if you start inspiring more people to do it, now you’re starting to make some real change. And if there is somebody that’s going to kind of set the trend and inspire people to maybe move in that direction, I think it should be us.”
Filmmakers of Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting joined demonstrators on Saturday, at the Kansas City Football Team’s playoff game to advocate for the team to change its name and end the appropriation of Native culture.
Producer Yancey Burns says the experience showed him the importance of educating the public about the fight against Native American mascots.
He says he witnessed people who came by the protest who may be open to dialog, but says there were also people on a different side.
“There are folks who maybe don’t understand the issue and are just not happy and are just willing to be awful and then farther along in that spectrum are folks who have malice in their heart. I think the ones who have malice in their heart will understand less than the ones who just on the other side of the spectrum who just don’t understand. There’s no reason to have malice especially when folks who are protesting – a peaceful, non-violent protest. All the people in Not In Our Honor are asking for is to think about the issue to change the name to stop the chop. There is no reason the folks they’re encountering should bring violence toward them that was incredible to see.”
The documentary examines the movement to end the use of Native American names, logos, and mascots in the world of sports and beyond. It was screened in Kansas City last week.
The group Not In Our Honor hosts demonstrations during the NFL season outside the Kansas City Football Team’s home games.
The coalition is made up of university students, community members, and local leaders in the Kansas City metro area.
The Kansas City Football Team has stated the team is continuing dialogue with the Native community to identify ways to educate and raise awareness of American Indian communities.
NASA astronaut Nicole Mann (Wailacki) took part in the first spacewalk of 2023 on Friday, alongside a Japanese astronaut.
They spent more than seven hours working outside the International Space Station.
Commander Mann is the first Native American woman to travel to space.
Get National Native News delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up for our newsletter today.