Making it happen hasn't been straightforward for everyone in Indian Country, though. For all the successes in places like Nevada and Washington, which was the first state to implement the marijuana compact model, there have been raids, arrests and threats of enforcement by authorities at every level of government. "Living in a state like Idaho, we have a lot of work to do to protect Idaho tribes from the long reach of the state's arm," Oatman said of a state where hemp and cannabis are considered illegal. But the landscape is shifting, at least when it comes to one significant area of the budding industry.. Following the enactment of the Farm Bill in 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is finally reviewing and approving tribal plans to grow hemp. During the National Congress of American Indians winter session this week, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky said his agency has approved seven tribal hemp plans so far. One one of the first was for the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe, whose leaders destroyed their own marijuana operation after being told they would have been raided by the federal government. The state of South Dakota ended up prosecuting non-Indians who worked with the tribe. “We have more that are in the queue," Censky said on Wednesday. According to the USDA website, more than two dozen tribes have submitted plans or are in the process of doing so in order to enter the hemp industry.
Is it these kinds of efforts that Oatman intends to spotlight with Tribal Hemp & Cannabis --- or THC, for short. She is planning to publish a couple of issues this year in conjunction with various events before moving to a quarterly schedule in 2021. "As Indigenous tribes move forward in this industry, they are taking their community into account and setting the building blocks so that they don't harm future generations," said Oatman, who recently served on the board of the Minority Cannabis Business Association as part of her efforts to secure changes in law and policy that will help tribes and entrepreneurs in Indian Country. As for Grandma Jeanie, the matriarch who started it all, she proudly graces the cover of THC's first issue. A story written by her daughter Judy, who is Oatman's mother and also was in D.C. for the launch, documents the family's farming roots on their Indian allotment in southwestern Idaho. "We should be able to grow on our own lands and not have to fear what I lived through in the 70's and 80's," Jeanie says in the cover story. "It is medicine. It helps a lot of people." And at age 81, Grandma Jeanie shows little signs of slowing down, telling Indianz.Com that she still works on road construction projects in her reservation community of Kamiah, whose name coincidentally comes from the Nez Perce words for fishing ropes that were historically made from hemp. A year ago, she gave her family a big scare when she suffered a broken leg and ribs in a vehicle accident. But all she could think about was getting back to work -- she was back on the job barely three months after the incident, she said. Grandma Jeanie also was excited to take part in the launch of THC, especially since it was her first visit to the nation's capital. She was as proud as ever to support her granddaughter.
“We have more that are in the queue”: Stephan Censky of Department of Agriculture tells National Congress of American Indians of 7 tribal hemp plans that have been approved under the 2018 Farm Bill. #ECWS2020 @depsecsteve @USDA @NCAI1944 pic.twitter.com/60qdRycMwn— indianz.com (@indianz) February 12, 2020