Anishinaabe Agricultural Institute

Is working to restore agro-biodiversity, through restoring local food systems, hemp, and traditional heritage varieties (a fiscally sponsored project of the Alliance for Sustainability/ International Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture)


The Anishinaabe Agricultural Institute is restoring local food systems, traditional heritage varieties, post petroleum agriculture and restorative ecological and agricultural systems. This will include research and education work, from youth to those in advanced educational institutions.

We have many years of traditional Anishinaabe Agricultural production experience, and have two years with a state of Minnesota permit for industrial hemp production- with a particular interest in fiber hemp and in health products including cbds.  This project is intended to provide continuous research opportunities in the areas of food and hemp, and new training opportunities.  We would in particular like to begin training our community in Post petroleum, restorative and traditional agriculture. Our project will work with local fertilizers to improves soil, horse and low fossil fuel impact energy sources, and grow a variety of traditional food crops, as well as hemp.

The use of horse farming opportunities will be coupled with Anishinaabeg and Dakota horse teachings and horse cultural practice for the purpose of re-integrating the horses into the community, both for economic and food system reasons, but also as a part of horse therapy and the restoration of dignity and courage in Anishinaabe youth.  We will partner with local organizations and associations, and focus on the Anishinaabe youth.

The Institute will be the educational partner of Winona LaDuke’s Hemp and Heritage Farm
Winona LaDuke leads the hemp crop movement around Minnesota’s White Earth Reservation
Star Tribune, AUGUST 24, 2019  Business Section, NEAL ST. ANTHONY

Winona LaDuke, environmentalist and a member of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, is pushing hemp in Indian Country.

“Hemp can do almost everything petroleum can do,” Winona LaDuke said, “including replacing some cotton and plastics.”

“I’m growing hemp on my farm,” said LaDuke, who lives near the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota. “Other tribal members are growing hemp. Our new tribal chairman supports hemp. I want to help rebuild Minnesota’s hemp rope and textile industry.

“Hemp is a cornerstone of a ‘post-petroleum’ economy and needs to be reintegrated into farming, particularly indigenous farming.”

LaDuke, an economics graduate from Harvard University, is best known recently for fighting Enbridge’s proposed oil pipeline across northern Minnesota. She also is program director of Honor the Earth, which focuses on climate change and environmental justice.

She also is in the vanguard of Minnesota’s born-again hemp industry, once a staple of the state’s farm economy. It was suppressed after World War II as government shut down related canvas and rope factories.

Many Minnesota farms once boasted hemp acreage, from which can be made rope, twine and fabric. Hemp also can produce CBD oil, which is a growing trend for health, including massage oils, and which lacks the THC found in marijuana that makes people high.

LaDuke and other Indian farmers are testing small plots of hemp. In addition to her own 40-acre farm, LaDuke has bought a second farm and established a nonprofit agency, for which she is seeking to raise $250,000 through a Kickstarter campaign.

LaDuke’s business, Winona’s Hemp & Heritage Farm, is working with her new Anishinaabe Agricultural Institute to build a “new locally grown economy based on food, energy and fiber” through a new hemp-production facility on LaDuke’s land next to tribal lands.

“I’m 60 and can do anything I want,” quipped LaDuke. “But I’m not a millionaire. That [Anishinaabe] farm will do research and that will be the nonprofit, independent tribal research station. It’s also about the vegetables we grow up here. I believe in biodiversity.

“I also want to build a mill that could handle up to 5,000 acres of hemp, grown by area farmers, to make canvas, rope, fabric and twine.

“We have a [tribal] economy predicated on federal programs and casinos. I want to work on restoring traditional economies and the economy of the future, a post-petroleum economy. Hemp can do almost everything that petroleum can do, including replacing some cotton and plastics.”

This is not just a pipe dream.

In 2016, LaDuke was one of the first registrants to receive an industrial permit to grow hemp in Minnesota.

She wants American Indians to get a slice of what has been projected to be a $20 billion-plus industry in the United States. Hemp is a versatile, fast-growing crop that uses much less water and chemicals than cotton and can act as a carbon sink. Deep-rooted hemp restores soil with nutrients. It’s a strain of the cannabis plant that can be processed into products such as paper, biodegradable plastics, biofuel, food and feed.

White Earth Chairman Michael Fairbanks, elected this month to oversee Minnesota’s largest band with nearly 20,000 members, said during his recent campaign that versatile, low-input hemp should be part of the economic and environmental strength of the White Earth community.

Fairbanks has been supportive of expansion of several acres of hemp-test plots on tribal land, in which LaDuke has been involved, and supporting White Earth farmers such as LaDuke in developing products and markets and further diversifying the White Earth economy.

The nearby Red Lake Reservation also is in the early stages of embracing agricultural hemp.

LaDuke recently told Hemp Magazine that there’s great opportunity to produce hemp-based fabric to replace some of the petroleum-based synthetics in clothing and other products.

“In our first year, we had seven hemp growers on the reservation,” LaDuke told the magazine this summer. “Now, there’s like 45.

“We’re going to need people to grow a lot of hemp to change the textile industry in this country. Everyone wants to make a lot of money on CBD [oils, pills and other ingestibles for health]. I’m trying to figure out how to protect Mother Earth, protect our water, protect our soil. If hemp can help build soil and sequester carbon, that’s also a pretty big thing.

“Also, almost everyone has a boat in Minnesota. If we’re going to move to a post-petroleum economy, we’re going to need a lot of hemp to get those boats made from hemp plastic instead of regular plastic. That’s not boutique production. We’re not making doilies up here.”
Neal St. Anthony has been a Star Tribune business columnist/reporter since 1984.