November 26 -30 2018 the National Tribal Conservation Districts Conference took place in Catoosa, Oklahoma. The three and ½ day conference was very informative and provided contacts and networking for the betterment of the tribal conservation districts. Meetings were held separately with NRCS and non-government agencies. Conference attendees enjoyed a field trip and tour of the local tribal slaughter facility as an enterprise and economic venture.
Much discussion revolved around climate change. INCA provided 26 travel scholarships to the National Tribal Conservation Districts Conference. Other sponsors provided additional scholarships to tribal representatives not affiliated with a tribal conservation district. As Paul Finnicum, Ft. Peck Reservation NRCS Tribal Conservationist, says; “Change climate, locally!” The feedback from the post conference surveys were positive, both about the presenters and the event as a whole.
Conference networking revealed that the NRCS and the Bureau of Reclamation are willing to provide engineering, and possibly equipment, for irrigation system rehabilitation. INCA staff were tasked with informing tribal conservation districts to identify and provide a conservation plan to rehabilitate an existing irrigation project for funding. Tohatchi Chapter (NM) Officials, SWCD, Community Land Use Committee and Council-elect met with INCA to discuss and plan for the opportunity because due to lack of funding and technical assistances the old Red Willow farm irrigation system is not in operation. The Red Willow Farm Board have been active by working with Navajo Nation Department of Water Resources, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) and State of New Mexico for funding to drill a water well. NTUA has offered to provide electricity to pump water and Water Resources provided a water storage tank. The Board was very receptive to the opportunity as well as the Chapter to make this a thriving farming community once again. A Colorado River tribal member contacted INCA staff to schedule a January meeting to discuss off-farm and on-farm rehabilitation of the Colorado River Tribal irrigation system.
During the conference, INCA Board of Directors convened to affirm the selection of Mr. Delane Atcitty as the INCA Interim Executive Director. Mr. Dick Gooby had informed the Board of Directors that he was retiring as the Executive Director and was willing to provide advice and technical assistance to Mr. Atcitty. Effective on December 31, 2018, Mr. Gooby retired as the INCA Executive Director. On January 1, 2019, Mr. Atcitty is the Interim Executive Director. During 2019 and after performance reviews, the Board of Directors will convene to affirm Mr. Atcitty as Executive Director.
The Quapaw field trip was successful, and a field trip will be planned for future conferences and tribal conservation and representative trainings. The conference lunches will be varied for the next conference. Most participants complimented the presentations and the networking opportunities gained by conference attendance.
INCA has formalized the agreement with Hardrock Hotel and Casino for the 2019 National Tribal Conservation District Conference for November 4-8, 2019.