They are an Indigenous dynamic duo with deep roots in the land. The Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) family and Latashia Redhouse – Director of the IAC American Indian Foods (AIF) Program, is super excited to announce that Tomie Peterson will now serve as the AIF Assistant Director.
“They simply cannot stop us,” said Redhouse with a smile, as she talked about the talents, resources, and enthusiasm the IAC and IAC-AIF team brings to the table. “We have so much expertise to draw from and we want to share and help.”
It is hard not to be energized and inspired by two Native women on fire for foods produced under the IAC Made/Produced by American Indians trademark. Peterson is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and currently resides on a cattle ranch near Parade, S.D. She also has a strong background in the financial industry from her experience as an ag banker. Prior to stepping into the position with IAC-AIF, she spent her initial time with IAC serving as a Technical Assistance Specialist (TA) out in the field. She is a graduate of Black Hills State University.
Redhouse is a member of the Diné Nation and grew up in Aneth, Utah where she proved she had the muscles to serve as her dad’s ranch hand while pursuing her own interests in basketball and other extracurricular activities. Redhouse also helped build a locally marketed bison endeavor with the Ute Tribe and has a host of marketing experience in her Native toolbelt. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Journalism with an emphasis in Corporate Communications at Utah State University.
Redhouse’s passion is clear, “I want to inspire Indigenous professionals and offer solutions to help grow their businesses. I love marketing challenges and developing strategies that help producers from all different backgrounds.”
The IAC-AIF program delivers this wealth of energy and resources through three pillars – the AIF Export Program, AIF Made/Produced by American Indians trademark, and the Native Food Connection. These programs afford them a large swath of services stretching from localized marketing to global trade connections. IAC-AIF members also represent nearly every style of Native producer who comes to them – from Native traditional foods to Native commercial producers.
Redhouse is proud of their open-door policy and wanted to reiterate their desire to serve a diverse portfolio delivering an array of high-quality, Native products. Peterson and Redhouse also agree, each farm and ranch is a business with vast potential. Both women have a deep desire to help producers tap into their own strengths and resources available to them. Keeping those Indian Country ag businesses strong, viable and marketable is at the center of their efforts every day.
“I have worked one-on-one with producers all over the country,” Peterson said about her rewarding career in banking and then with IAC. “The biggest barriers are themselves. They just don’t see how much they have to offer sometimes.”
Therein lies the biggest hope and opportunity, Peterson went on, “There are way more options for them than they see at first. I want to help empower farmers and ranchers to take responsibility and know what it takes to be successful. There is a lack of education, but there are so many resources out there.”
“Bringing Tomie on is really strategic,” Redhouse said. “She has experience with the FSA (Farm Service Agency) loan process as well as ag lending and finance. We would love for producers to consider us a central location for any type of resource they might need.”
The benefits the IAC-AIF program delivers begin with the Made/Produced by American Indians trademark process. Once approved for the trademark, they can take advantage of so many perks, Redhouse pointed out, “I don’t think producers understand the reimbursement side of things. With our export program, for example, they have an opportunity to participate in trade shows and we can reimburse them up to 100 percent of the costs – including lodging and airfare. We can also help with websites and cover partial costs for design. And, we can assist with marketing plans, business development and feasibility studies.”
“The Native Food Connection is something we launched earlier this year, that really focuses on the domestic market,” Redhouse explained. “This is an effort to make meaningful connections between buyers and producers. We work really closely with Native Chefs, Native Retailers and Tribal representatives and consumers to help educate them about the amazing products from across Indian Country that cannot be found anywhere else.”
“We believe we represent the greatest food producers on this continent and have some of the best food being grown on the continent,” noted Peterson.
Redhouse said the first quarter of this year we will be focused on virtual opportunities and engaging producers in this format. They also anticipate a summer increase in the amount of in-person trade shows, “The virtual and digital space has so much to offer consumers both domestically and globally. There is still uncertainty out there, but we have many tools and opportunities to explore to help Native producers today. These virtual tools continue the conversation between consumers and buyers.”
They also have an extended network with the IAC TA team out on the front lines serving producers, as well as leadership to pull from if additional resources are needed. There is a wide-array of expertise available – everything from communication, to federal policy development such as the Native Farm Bill, regenerative agriculture and more!
“No one can mess with us,” said Redhouse with confidence, when it comes to the genuine desire to serve Indian Country with top-notch resources and tireless exploration to find the latest and greatest marketing tools out there. “If we do not have the answers, we can find them. It is really an amazing group to work with. We’re here for those in Indian agriculture!”
We know you are excited – we are too! If you are an Indian Country producer or know someone who would love to tap into the IAC-AIF program and all the promise and hope it offers, please contact Peterson or Redhouse and check out the incredible offerings on their website page.
Find the answers you need here, or contact Peterson or Redhouse directly: www.indianagfoods.org