Rural Alaska

2 Alaska tribes receive federal funds for new meat processing programs

A new grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is sending more than a million dollars to Alaska to help communities process meat locally.

The Indigenous Animals Harvesting and Meat Processing Grant Program was established to help tribal nations “expand or enhance indigenous animals and meat processing capacity in Indian Country.” The program is part of the Biden administration’s push to increase “food sovereignty” with partners in tribal government, according to a statement from the Department of Agriculture.

“This Administration is listening and incorporating Tribal and Indigenous Knowledge to encourage the processing and distribution of affordable, healthy animal proteins that have sustained Alaskans from time immemorial,” wrote USDA State Administrator Julia Hnilicka.

The Alutiiq Tribe of Old Harbor on Kodiak Island is receiving $1 million to purchase and renovate an idle processing facility, which will be used to handle both fish and game, including bison from a herd managed by the tribe. The release notes that the community is contending with diminished fish stocks as a result of climate change, affecting residents’ food security.

The second grant designates $668,000 for the Tribal Government of St. Paul in the Bering Sea, which aims to reestablish a system for butchering and selling reindeer meat on the island.

“The project will increase the availability of locally sourced organic meat products and drive profits back to the island. It also will help Tribal members remember, relearn and practice traditional herding techniques important to the cultural heritage of the island,” according to the release.

USDA made up to $50 million available under the grant program, with no match requirement from tribes applying to it.

Zachariah Hughes

Zachariah Hughes covers Anchorage government, the military, dog mushing, subsistence issues and general assignments for the Anchorage Daily News. He also helps produce the ADN's weekly politics podcast. Prior to joining the ADN, he worked in Alaska’s public radio network, and got his start in journalism at KNOM in Nome.