Tribal populations are doubling every 18 years. The 2.5 million American Indians living on or near the 560-plus tribes spread across the United States are concerned about four areas of scarcity: water, food, energy and healthcare.

After much thought and consideration, a dedicated group of highly accomplished individuals committed to positive change has decided to launch a new not-for-profit organization, Flower Tree Institute. The Jemez Pueblo-based group recognized the important elements to Indian tribes and Indian peoples as Art, Agriculture, Water and Climate Change. They decided to work with these elements through a community- and economic-development approach concentrating on youth, language and cultural preservation.

Flower Hill’s executive director will be Roger Fragua of Cota Enterprises, who has worked with tribal development in the energy sector. Brophy Toledo will serve as a cultural advisor. A management team, board of directors and an advisory board comprised of people from many different tribes is being formed. The group intends to seek funding from corporate and tribal sponsorships, federal grants and from presenting conferences and workshops

Reviving Native Agriculture

What do the practices used by American Indian farmers in the Southwest for millennia teach as contemporary farmers work to build a resilient and regenerative agriculture?

Years ago, the Jemez Pueblo had many gardens and fields in and around the pueblo. In recent years there have been just a few, but farmers who are part of Flower Tree Institute are actively working to keep traditional farming alive and build sustainable local food systems. Although there are great challenges involved in passing the torch to the next generation, the farmers have found it to be very gratifying. Growing crops seen many years ago reinforces connections to elders, ancestors and strengthens the culture.

Musician/farmer Justin Casiquito is among the participating farmers. A father of two, Casiquito accompanied his father in the fields as a young child and has been farming ever since. For the last eight years he has planted an organic field at the pueblo. He wants to provide nutritious homegrown options for Pueblo people and increase fresh foods’ accessibility and affordability.

For more information about Flower Tree Institute, write to P.O. Box 692, Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico, 87024.