Cherokee Nation to build meat processing facility
Deputy Chief Bryan Warner and Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. tour the building that will house a Cherokee Nation meat processing facility, expected to open in 2021. COURTESY
TAHLEQUAH – Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner on Oct. 9 announced plans to construct a meat processing facility on Cherokee Nation property near Tahlequah.
“The deputy chief and I are committed to developing programs and economic development in the area of agriculture and the Council of the Cherokee Nation had continued to express a desire to explore a meat processing facility for our citizens,” Hoskin said.
The meat processing facility will be sited on tribal land west of Tahlequah.
Plans call for gradual growth of the operation, which is expected to employ seven workers. The immediate goal is to help CN citizens in need of food assistance, but longer term, the plant could can expand into commercial markets.
“We are moving quickly, but carefully, given the time constraints to execute capital projects under the Coronavirus Relief Fund, which will fund at least a portion of the meat processing facility,” Hoskin said. “Today’s announcement is an important milestone and we will continue to celebrate the construction phases of this facility to keep tribal citizens informed of its progress.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in periodic interruptions of meat supplies, and a processing plant would allow the CN a further degree of control over a meat supply for citizens facing food insecurities.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, beef and other meat sources were harder to supply to elders through emergency food distributions, and opening a meat processing facility will help sustain foods for Cherokee citizens and bring in jobs and agricultural opportunities for the Tribe,” a written CN statement stated.
The meat processing facility is expected to encompass 12,000 square feet and cost about $1 million, repurposing a closed horticultural nursery, and plans call for operations to begin in early 2021. The facility will reportedly process beef, pork and bison.
“It’ll help address some food security needs for the Cherokee people, but it’s broader than that,” Hoskin said during a radio interview. “We also have to think about sustainability. Part of sustainability means employment for our people.”