Food security and food sovereignty are top priorities for the Seneca-Cayuga Nation. This need was highlighted when the meat processing plants were forced to close during the first phase of COVID, which showed the disparity and vulnerability facing our people. Tribal governments in Oklahoma and across the country are at the forefront of developing local and sustainable food sources through farming, ranching, and meat processing. The Seneca-Cayuga Nation is pleased to announce that we are actively taking steps to address food security for our Nation through the creation of Flint Fire Ranch, our wholly-owned operation designed to raise and manage a sustainable herd of high-producing cattle.
Utilizing funds made available through ARPA, we have made an initial land purchase to create the foundation for Flint Fire Ranch. Our initial land purchase consists of two functioning ranches, hay meadow and potential feeder lot to sustain our cattle operations. Establishing a sustainable cattle herd is a long and involved process towards which we are taking a long-term approach. We have recently acquired the needed equipment for working the land and serving the needs of the herd as we prepare to make an initial investment in 40 head of cattle, the majority of which will produce calves later in the year. The timeline between starting the herd, the operation of producing meat for sale, and the distribution process is approximately one year. While it requires a lot of discipline and commitment to initiate, Flint Fire Ranch represents our Tribe’s most significant investment in food sovereignty and land acquisition in decades.
Rick Smith has been chosen to lead the herd development and day-to-day operations for Flint Fire Ranch. With more than 50 years of experience raising and managing cattle herds, Rick shared that he is, “excited to develop a cattle operation that the Tribe can be proud of. It will provide food and income for the Nation, and be recognized as the highest quality product in the market.”
Chief of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation, Chief Charlie Diebold shared, “Flint Fire Ranch illustrates the commitment of our tribe to serve the needs of our communities by advancing food sovereignty. When thinking of a name, we felt it was important to incorporate our heritage and history to this new venture. After much consideration, we chose ‘Flint Fire Ranch.’ Many identifiers and symbols in our Seneca-Cayuga heritage set us apart, but none stood out as much as ‘Flint Fire.’ The flint fire symbolizes many things; for many tribes and us, fire is life itself. The flint fire is created with ‘flint and steel,’ where the right spark brings the fire to life. As such, it is also ‘clean.’ No chemicals or paper are used in its creation. When the Seneca Cayuga gather in the Spring for the first dance (Sun Dance), a flint fire is built to signify the beginning. The beginning of the new growing season and to give thanks for the sun and all things the creator has provided his children. We felt the name fits the Nation very well on this endeavor for a tribal food source and are excited for what the future holds.”