On this page, you will find a variety of legal and political resources that can support you in navigating tribal land, food, and water sovereignty. Refer to the following links to learn more about food codes, land tenure, treaty hunting rights, the Farm Bill, and more! These tools are important for asserting tribal sovereignty in service of community well-being.

Section 1: Treaties

  • A collaborative, intertribal treaty drafted with the intention of honoring, recognizing, and revitalizing our relationship with buffalo. The treaty outlines the goals of providing a safe environment in both the United States and Canada where wild, free-ranging buffalo can be restored to their ecological, cultural, and spiritual role on the land.
  • Buffalo Treaty
  • Trust Agreement
  • On the eve of Thanksgiving in 1999, Keepseagle V. Vilsack, a class action lawsuit was filed alleging that the USDA had discriminated against Native farmers and ranchers since 1981. This discrimination cost Native American farmers hundreds of millions of dollars in economic loss due to loan servicing and low-interest rate loans being denied. In 2011 a settlement was reached, the required the USDA to pay $680 million in damages, forgive $80 million in outstanding farm loan debt, and improve farm loan services the USDA provide to Native American Farmers. Attached it the trust agreement.

[7] Congressional Record, 100th Cong. 2d sess., 1988, 9348.

Section 2: Land Tenure

  • This is a series of 14 fact sheets developed to explain major sections of the American Indian Probate Reform Act (AIPRA). AIPRA was enacted on October 27, 2004. The Act amends the Indian Land Consolidation Act. Most sections of AIPRA that pertain to probate became effective June 20, 2006. Technical amendments were signed into law December 2, 2008, and the most recent regulatory changes were published in 2021 (see Inheriting Indian Land Fact Sheet).
  • AIPRA has created a uniform probate code for all reservations (except Alaska, the Five Civilized Tribes, and the Osage) across the United States. This Act will apply to all tribal and individually owned trust lands unless the tribe has a Department of Interior approved probate code. For individuals who pass away on or after June 20, 2006, state laws will no longer determine how trust lands pass from one generation to the next.
  • The Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) is a national, community-based organization serving American Indian nations and people in the recovery and control of their rightful homelands. The ILTF works to promote education, increase cultural awareness, create economic opportunity, and reform the legal and administrative systems that prevent Indian people from owning and controlling reservation lands.
  • Among other things, the ILTF provides a growing list of free publications that can be accessed at Indian Land Tenure Foundation.
  • The Native Land Project at Montana State University is an applied research initiative that works alongside Indigenous partners to document and generate research on indigenous land and planning that is useful to planners and others working on issues in the interest of First Peoples in the Northern Rockies region.
  • Find more information at Native Land Project and at Piikani Lodge Health Institute at Piikani Lodge.
  • Introductory Language: The Blackfeet Nation and Montana State University Native Land Project research partners are working together to create visuals (‘landowner roadmaps’ or process guides) around individual trust land management processes such as land exchange, rights-of-way, gift deeding, fee-to-trust, and probate. These are intended as guides for landowners and others engaged in trust land management. They are also being used to help identify the economic costs related to the individual landowner’s or producer’s negotiation of each process (especially as compared to similar processes on fee land). In addition, they are intended to support the Blackfeet Tribe, BIA and community-based organizations in identifying gaps and duplications in processes where procedural adjustments might help to increase efficiencies. Finally, the maps and accompanying research provide decision support should a Nation wish to identify areas where new tribal policies could supplant federal regulations and eventually reduce production costs for landowners by simplifying processes.
  • Images found here: Land Owner Road Maps PDFs
“Buffalo are bringing us together.”


Paulette Fox Natowaawawahkaki – Holy Walking Woman (Kanai)

Section 3: Indigenous Food Sovereignty Strategic Plans by Nation

  • Amskapi Piikani Food Sovereignty Stategic Plan
  • Amskapi Piikani food Sovereignty Strategic Plan builds on Agricultural Resource Management Plans strategies to utilize, protect, conserve, and restore agriculture land for present and future tribal members. Its focus is community participation and stakeholder identification as they look at the current food sovereignty concepts and frameworks to build strategies, develop action steps and launch plans.
  • Huu-ay-aht First Nations Stategic Plan
  • Huu-ay-aht First Nations developed a plan to connect their past work to their present by defining strategic goals and sacred principles. Those characterizations had led their decision-making in language and culture, infrastructure, natural resources, citizen as well as economic development. Example initiatives are built from the communities defined objectives and goals.
  • This handout acts as a resource directory for food sovereignty and production for any tribal nation. It has a list of grant, loan, and technical assistant programs. Funding priority criteria is given, application dates and other details to decide if a program is right for you.
  • National Congress of American Indians
  • Oneida Nation Food Sovereignty Strategic Plan was developed to outline their goals, objective, and strategies for food sovereignty. Their objectives have outlined action steps to strengthen and expand the community food system network and meet tribal needs.
  • Oneida Nation Food Sovereignty Strategic Plan
  • The White Earth Band of Minnesota Chippewa Tribe’s developed a five-year Food Sovereignty Initiative Strategic Plan that is community driven. They meet monthly to develop a plan from their identified goals current projects. These include a tilling program, community farm, an established mobile grocery distribution unit and food truck, bison and hemp program development and more.
  • White Earth Band Food Sovereignty Initiative Strategic Plan

Section 4: Food Systems and Policy

  • Council for Native American Farming and Ranching was created out the Keepseagle settlement meant to help Native American Farmers and ranchers overcome program barriers, provide extension and financial literacy services, hamper land tenure and probate issues on USDA programs through intergovernmental cooperation and create new opportunities for Native ranchers and farmers.
  • Council for Native American Farming and Ranching

The Native Farm Bill Coalition was formed in 2017 as a coordinated effort to advocate for federal food, agriculture, and nutrition policy through successive Farm Bills. The Farm Bill is a collection of legislative policies focused on federal and nutritional titles that are renewed every five years. Among other things, this is an overview of how these new policies may present challenges and opportunities in Indian Country. See Native Farm Bill Coalition

  • 2022 Native Farm Bill Coalition Gaining Ground Report
    The Native Farm Bill Coalition has released Gaining Ground: A Report on the 2018 Farm Bill Successes for Indian Country and Opportunities for 2023. The report argues for significant progress to be made in strengthening Tribal sovereignty, food security and rural infrastructure.
    2022 Native Farm Bill Coalition Gaining Ground Report

“The EchoHawk Report” The EchoHawk Report

  • The scope of the report is focused primarily on Tribal (rural and reservation) food access and health issues. Feeding Ourselves encourages its readers to take the first step toward a solution – becoming aware of the extent of the problem of Native health disparities and its deep interconnections to U.S. Indian policy, poverty, historical trauma and food systems. This includes building awareness of the complex historic and present-day situations of Native peoples, innovative models, and how systemic and long-term changes may be supported by policy changes at the tribal, federal, and philanthropic levels.
  • USDA MAP: Food Deserts in MT
  • Sometimes visualizing something helps us understand the magnitude of it. The United States Department of Agriculture developed a map that shows the distribution of low-income citizens that have limited access to food stores with healthy affordable options. The recognized food deserts are divided into groups based on distance and vehicle access.
  • This short handout defines the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FIDPIR) – an alternative to SNAP meant for rural tribal nations communities. The demographic of people who benefit from this policy, what foods – including traditional foods – are provided, and snap eligibility detail.
  • Food Distribution Programs in Indian Country
  • Child Nutrition Programs in Indian Country
    • The Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative developed a brief factsheet on the different child nutrition and grant programs in Indian Country, how many are eligible and number of past recipients, and grants awarded by state.
    • Child Nutrition Programs in Indian Country
  • Indigenous Foods Toolkit
    • Offers palatable history on traditional foods used by Montana Tribes, meal pattern instructions, crediting in school system food buying guides, and menu planning for school systems.
    • Indigenous Foods Toolkit
  • Child Nutrition Programs and Traditional Foods
    • The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) understands the importance of serving traditional foods and encourages Indian Tribal Organizations, along with all operators of CNPs, to source locally grown and raised food
    • Policy Memo TA 01-2015
  • Service of Traditional Foods in Public Facilities
    • The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration to allow the donation to and serving of traditional food through food service programs at public facilities and nonprofit facilities, including those operated by Indian tribes and facilities operated by tribal organizations, that primarily serve Indians
    • Policy Memo SP42 CACFP19 SFSP21-2015
  • Procurement of Local Meat, Poultry, Game, and Eggs in Child Nutrition Programs
    • The USDA issued a memorandum that details the regulatory requirements related to food safety and answer specific questions related to these products with a series of questions and answers included as an attachment.
    • Policy Memo SP01 CACFP01 SFSP01-2016
  • Holland and Knight
    • Holland & Knight’s Native American Law Team specialize in legal and public policy in Indian country. They have represented clients in tribal sovereignty that includes renewable energy, environment and natural resources, tribal governance, business under tribal law, and much more.
    • Holland & Knight Native American Law
  • Indigenous Food and Agriculture
  • Thinking about developing your own Nation’s food code? This model, developed by the University of Arkansas Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative, will guide you through steps to empower your own Nation’s sovereign food system.
  • The Model Food and Agriculture Code Project
  • Montana is the fourth largest state and home to eight Tribal Nations. Much of the state is rural, which has a direct effect on access to reliable, healthy food. This study locates grocery stores in and around Montana Tribal Nations, their distribution systems, supply-chain obstacles, and pricing design. It offers new alternatives to improve the stores’ sustainability by identifying new partnerships and distribution centers. See Montana Food Distribution Study
  • The Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic developed a legal toolkit for local food policy councils and local food advocates. It’s meant to address policy areas that can create change in your local system. This includes, general legal setting, food system infrastructure, land use planning, urban agriculture, consumer access and demand, procurement, school food and nutrition education, and finally, decreasing, and recovering waste food.
  • Putting Local Food Policy to Work in Our Communities
  • Insights from Case Examples and a Survey of Native Communities’ Food Access During COVID-19, Native American Agriculture Fund, https://nativeamericanagriculturefund.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Reimagining-Hunger-Responses-in-Times-of-Crisis.pdf
  • There is a large gap between the factors that affect food insecurity in Indian Country and the resources to fill them. This was only highlighted during the COVID-19 crisis, when Tribal governments and Native-led organizations stepped into action ahead of the government to provide food to families that needed it. The NAAF Food Access Survey reports the disparities COVID brought to the forefront, how the government fell short of support, and how Native producers and Native community-based organizations filled those gaps. Recommendations for federal infrastructure, nutrition programs and data collection are given as prompts to restructure Native food economies.
  • Introduction: The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR), is a federal program that prioritizes access to traditional and fresh foods for Native Communities. This document breaks down who can readily access these resources, the specific foods supplied, policy changes, and program use rates over the years. SNAP program participation rates are provided for comparison. See Traditional Foods in the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
“We are restoring these traditional trade routes because our economies are still very much traditional.”


Leona Tracy

Section 5: Financial Literacy Resources to Empower Nations

  • Akiptan offers loans, land mortgage guidance, down payment assistance, and general financing. They have curriculum, webinars and technical assistance to help you reach financial literacy.
  • Akiptan’s Financial Programs
  • The Intertribal Agricultural Council offers a concentrated page of resources including aid in disaster relief, inventory calculators, drought research, hay exchange, and feed alternatives. This changing world presents new challenges every day that force farmers to make difficult decisions – a section of mental health resources are provided to promote wellness in farmers
  • Disaster Resources for Farmers
  • This manual is designed to be approachable and focus on real world problems Native farmers face today. Whether you are just starting your ranching journey or fully operational, hoping to strengthen your returns. The guide helps you determine where you’re currently at, assess management costs, and make financial decisions that will shape your operation. Accessing income, expenses, and financial statements to managing credit, and record keeping.
  • Financial Management Guide for Cattle Ranchers
  • The guide looks at several sections of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, that are centralized to the farmer. These sections include the new changes the American Rescue Plan Act, borrower relief for farmers with FSA loans, and discrimination loans. Congress has left many details out, giving the opportunity for farmers to give their input on what decisions ought to be made. This guide offers a clear window into how farmers and organizations can shape those decisions and a list of organizations currently working on those issues
  • Inflation Reduction Guide for Farmers
  • The Native American Agricultural Fund is a trust that was developed to provide business assistance, agricultural education, technical support, and advocacy to Native Farmers. The trust was formed from the Keepseagle v. Vilsack litigation settlement from 2010. The suit was filed in 1999 alleging that the USDA was discriminating against Native American Farmers and ranchers in loan programs dating back to 1981.
  • Native American Agricultural Fund
  • USDA disaster assistance program offers several programs for livestock assistance, farm loans, farmland damage, and crop loss. Benefits are offered for grazing loss due to drought or fire, excess mortality due to adverse weather and disease. Moreover, farmers and ranchers can receive assistance implementing water conservation methods, coverage in non-insurable crops or prevented planting, and tree assistance programs.
  • USDA Disaster Assistance Program
  • Disaster Assistance Programs at a Glance

Section 6: Care for the Land and Climate

  • Tribal Carbon works in Indian country to create carbon offset projects and revenue for communities. This includes feasibility studies, carbon inventory and translation into a model, submitting project verification and registry, and carbon offset sales.
  • Carbon Credits on Tribal Land
  • National Indian Carbon Coalition is a non-profit that helps tribal nations and native landowners develop carbon credits and generate sustainable income. They offer training and development assistance for carbon credits. The credits can be applied to farmland, serve to protect tribal land and ownership, as well as cycle profits into tribal nations’ economies.
  • Developing Clean energy on Tribal Land
  • The Montana Climate Assessment looks at historical variability, past trends, and current projections of climate change impact in Montana. These Subjects include Montana’s Climate impacts on water, forests, and agriculture.
  • Montana Climate Assessment

Section 7: Landscape Data to Make Informed Stewardship Decisions

  • Aboriginal mapping network utilizes geographic spatial science to help indigenous navigate land claims, treaty negotiations, land developments. Tribal Nations can use spatial data to make informed decisions, learn the methods and of conduct traditional use studies, make land use planning, and learn different mapping concepts as you go.
  • Aboriginal Mapping Network
  • This drought map provides a weekly drought summary for each region of the states, what we can expect in the upcoming week, downloadable maps, and datasets in GIS formats.
  • Drought Monitor Map
  • Pasture map is a digital application that allows you to set up your fields, system, and herd size. You can divide land into several areas to plan and track your grazing patterns, place objects and details onto the map. Grazing, forage, and rest days and dry matter history are available as data layers. The data captures rain fall year to date.  This software program is a way to maximize your time, reduce hay cost and regenerate your land.
  • Pastureland Map
  • SoilWeb is a public database developed by California soil resource lab that shows detailed soil survey data that lists soil types and series classifications. Their interactive Google map allows you to identify the profile of your soil.
  • SoilWeb

Section 8: Food Processing Resources

  • Flower Hill has a series of webinars offering basic planning and design, plant selection and management for extended season productions. They have videos on creating biochar and medical foraging so that we can learn what the land has to offer and skills to care for it in return.
  • Flower Hill Video Resources