April 7, 2018—Winona LaDuke (third from the left) and Muriel YoungBear (center) gather with other indigenous hemp leaders for a picture at the NoCo Hemp Expo in Loveland, Colo.

April 7, 2018—Winona LaDuke (third from the left) and Muriel YoungBear (center) gather with other indigenous hemp leaders for a picture at the NoCo Hemp Expo in Loveland, Colo.

Tribal Hemp Education

Native people have a long history with hemp.  At the same time, the renaissance of the hemp industry is now largely controlled by white men. We are interested in the next economy and we want to be at the center of this economy, the industrial hemp economy. 

That is our work.

Traditional weavings for centuries have been made with what’s called Indian hemp. For instance, the Tuscarora People are known as the People of the Hemp Shirts.  Their original name is:  Skarù·ręʔ.  “This name is at the heart of our self-designation, which indicates "hemp gatherers," As Duane Owen Brayboy-Williams (Tuscarora Scholar)  explains, “There were many bad spellings for our name in the early colonial period, such as "Rooskaroora," "Taskororeh," etc.,” the origin however is that of the hemp gatherers.  Indigenous peoples easily adapt new crops, and in this past century, Alex White Plume from Pine Ridge led the renaissance of tribal hemp, White Plume’s crop was seized by the DEA, and he was unable to grow hemp again until 2017. Tribal hemp production has been contentious nationally, with Menominee Nation crop being seized in 2017. In 2018, however, more tribes are expanding into hemp, and there is great interest. 

Anishinaabe Agriculture Hemp

The Anishinaabe Agriculture is working nationally to place tribal nations at the front of industrial hemp. This past spring, we sponsored the first Anishinaabe Hemp Conference, with seventy participants from tribal governments, tribal hemp growers, attorneys, state officials, and international delegates.  We have undertaken significant outreach on hemp and are providing technical assistance to at least five tribal nations as we look towards hemp fiber in the future.  For the past three years, we have been growing industrial hemp under a state of Minnesota permit, and this upcoming year intend to expand hemp varietal trials significantly, and work to build the hemp economy. We have two primary areas of interest: fiber hemp and CBD hemp. 


Tribal Hemp Wellness

CBD varietals

CBD varietals have significant health benefits for our people, and we would like to make these varietals, tinctures, oils and salves available to our community for a reasonable cost, and as well as teach the making of these healing products. This year, we expand our production significantly, and this year we will be hosting workshops on salve making, tinctures and other health products for our youth and families. Our first workshop will be at our Hemp Conference in February.


Hemp Business Journal estimates the total retail value of all hemp products sold in the United States to be at least $688 million for 2016. The data demonstrates the hemp industry is growing quickly and according to Sean Murphy, the Journal’s founder and publisher, sales are projected to be nearly $2 billion by 2020. The surge is expected to be led by hemp food, body care and CBD-based products.


Tribal Hemp Education goals + work plan



  • Support Development of Integrated Tribal Agricultural Research Project on White Earth which includes hemp and heritage foods as a replicable model for our region for both food and income.

  • Develop a Tribal Hemp Outreach and Education Project including curriculum for use with tribal colleges, and in tribal communities nationally.

  • Prototype a hemp fiber processing project intended to use intermediate technology to process quality organic fiber hemp, and create a base for building a farmer cooperative of hemp growers for our region.

  • Work with the White Earth Tribal Council to create a set of Tribal Hemp policies and a strategic plan for the development of a tribal hemp industry on White Earth and as a model for this nationally. 


Utilizing integrated research and support including that from the University of Washington Jackson School for International Policy, develop an integrated tribal hemp curriculum which can be used in tribal and non tribal colleges and programs.

  • Present first draft of Tribal Hemp Curriculum at this Conference, plan for a fall release of final curriculum, which will include history, botany, uses, technology, economics and futures in industrial hemp.

  • Develop and host tribal hemp internships as a part of integrated agriculture.

  • Garden Warriors Program: Coordinate Tribal Youth Food Sovereignty Initiatives with the Pine Point and Circle of Life School. Bring youth to the farms; explain the varieties, cultivation, PH and other chemistry of the soil. Continue with a set of 6 workshops with these schools over the summer and into the fall.  Work with the schools to get special youth internship programs - Garden Warriors. Provide training on food cultivation, hemp cultivation and also cut flowers for local markets.  Seek to develop a set of new farmers from our community.

  • Continue to present on hemp to tribal governments and tribal schools in our region (we conducted workshops for the Oneida and Omaha this fall, with at least four other pending requests).


Tribal Hemp Production plan

This is work undertaken as a collaborative between Anishinaabe Agriculture and Tribal hemp producers on the White Earth reservation.  To build a prototype, our goal is the following:

  • Hire essential processing team to rett hemp, harvest hemp, decorticate, scutch and secure fiber from hemp

  • Secure a processing facility to expand this work in Callaway, Minnesota, with the intention of securing not only a facility but looking to a renewable energy source for processing. We are presently considering hemp processing equipment in Yuma, Colorado.

  • Secure additional acreage for hemp production on and near the White Earth reservation.  Conduct outreach to additional farmers who will be interested in the expansion of this operation.

  • Develop marketing and outreach materials for investors in the hemp work on White Earth.

  • Continue regional work with Manitoba hemp producers. And work nationally on the technology of re-development of hemp fiber industry. Continue this work with tribal producers and hemp textile industry as well as Huston Mill, Patagonia and other interested corporations. Work with local producers to purchase and install a mill for regional hemp production.

  • Seek to have fiber ready by 2020 for initial offering to premium mills

Tribal Hemp Ordinance

Continue work with the White Earth Tribal Council and the Inter-Tribal Hemp Association to build hemp policies which can support the development of this industry on the White Earth and other reservations.  Utilizing provisions of the Farm Bill, and full recognition of tribal sovereignty over seeds, foods and commerce, create tribal hemp codes which are replicable.  Coordinate this work with legal counsel nationally, and use this to help promote tribal integration into the hemp industry.