March 13, 2019: Billings Montana. At the regular quarterly meeting the Board of Directors of the Intertribal Agriculture Council moved unanimously to appoint Zach Ducheneaux, member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, as the organization’s new Executive Director.
Part of a transition plan first envisioned during a quarterly meeting in 2014 by then Executive Director Ross Racine, this move makes Zach only the 3rd person to serve in this role in the organization’s three decades of work. Over the last five years, Zach has served as the de facto second in command of the organization as he continued to oversee the establishment and growth of the Tribal Technical Assistance Network to serve Tribal Member Agribusinesses, Tribal Nations, and others in the Ag and Food sector.
Zach Ducheneaux is part of the third generation to operate the family ranch on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in north central South Dakota. That generation is now working with the fourth generation on the same ranch. Zach served as a tribal council representative for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe from 2000 to 2004 and became the Tribe’s delegate to the IAC, and secretary of the board, a role he is honored to have filled. However, Zach’s connection to the IAC spans nearly 25 years, as his first professional employment was with the organization as a Farm Advocate from 1994-1997; in this role, he assisted producers who found themselves victim to the circumstances of the Keepseagle lawsuit following the fallout of the Farm Crisis.
“During that time I learned about the passion that drove those within the IAC for agriculture as an economic development tool, and that there were folks out there trying to improve Reservation economies through Agriculture.” Zach goes on, “I learned that there was a bigger picture behind what I had the good fortune of growing up doing, and that it was possible to have an impact on those matters for the benefit of all of Indian Country.” This bigger picture approach has focused a significant amount of Zach’s current work around a reinvention of Ag Finance to better serve Indian Country; shedding light on the investment potential that is offered through more thoughtfully structured Sustainability Finance.
Since 2010, Zach has been working full-time for the IAC, and along with his work on the TA Network, and ag policy initiatives, He works to further educate himself, and others about the critical role of improved food systems, value-added agriculture, and foreign exports in any successful economic development model in Indian Country.
Ross Racine will stay on for an undefined period as Technical Advisor to the IAC, but looks forward to spending more time on the family ranch on the Blackfeet Reservation, continuing to fulfill his “Papa” role, and sharing a lifetime of knowledge and wisdom with the next generation of leadership at the IAC.
From Ross, “I want to thank all who helped advance the organization that has opened so many doors! We had a lot of help from friends in DC, friends in the Federal Sector as well as the Tribal community who assisted in bringing benefit to the Nations we serve. I have great faith in the ability of the organization to continue to improve the quality of life for our people and do so in a sustainable way. Thank you again!”