Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
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Twenty years later, CCHD grants continue their impact on Kalispel Tribe community
the Inland Register
(From the May 19, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)
This buffalo herd got its start with grants 20 years ago from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. (IR photo from Catholic Charities)
In 1984, the Pend Oreille County Tribe received the first of three national grants from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development to assist with its new buffalo herd.
Twenty years after the Kalispel Indian Tribe received CCHD grants to support a buffalo project, the tribe’s herd is a thriving part of the tribal community, enriching tribal culture, enhancing basic diets and community life, while connecting the tribe to other communities.
CCHD grants are awarded to economic development projects which attack the root causes of poverty in the United States.
Lloyd Finley is manager for Kalispel Agricultural Enterprises. Finley says the 100-120 animals, along with the weather, dictate his daily and seasonal schedules.
The herd began with approximately 25 animals in 1980. Every spring, new calves are born to offset those that were butchered in the past year. Today, tawny brown calves trail along behind their mothers in the pasture along the East bank of the Pend Oreille River, near the town of Usk.
Years before the Northern Quest Casino changed its fortunes, the Kalispel Tribe received grants to help manage the herd for the health of the tribal community and to market the meat products from the slaughtered animals. Now, the animals graze behind electrified fencing to keep predators away from the calves.
During the winter months, the buffalo consume roughly a ton of hay each day. Mason’s Meat Locker near Diamond Lake processes prime cuts, jerky and sausage for sale. The rest of the animal is distributed to the tribal community a few times each year, especially during summer powwows and gatherings for elders’ funerals.
Finley said that the tribe’s supply could not match demand for the product, so they do not market extensively beyond the local area.
The Kalispels belong to an Intertribal buffalo compact to acquire animals that come off of national park land. This arrangement provides genetic diversity for the herd. Some animals from the Kalispel herd have been sold to start other herds in the area, including one with the Spokane Tribe and another close to the city of Spokane, near Tum Tum.
Two people are employed year-’ round to maintain the herd, and every summer as many as eight tribal youth are employed through a grant to assist with the summer workload. The opportunity to work with the herd is seen as a reward – only young men with good grades are offered the chance.
Twenty years after receiving CCHD grants, the Kalispel buffalo herd is viable and profitable and would not have developed to its current level without CCHD funds.