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Release Date: 10/7/1998
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Region 6 Office has awarded a Sustainable Development Challenge Grant for $20,000 to the Tseikiin Community Development Corporation (TCDC), a private, non-profit organization, to develop and implement a plan for restructuring traditional farming and ranch operations in the Ramah Navajo Community into an environmentally sustainable and economically profitable enterprise.

    EPA Regional Administrator Gregg Cooke stated,"EPA strongly supports community-based projects that integrate environmental protection with community and economic goals. Farming and ranching are extremely important to the Ramah Navajo people - providing food, employment, and support for traditional values. This project will benefit the entire Ramah Navaho community by revitalizing the traditional family-owned livestock and farming economy, while protecting and conserving the natural environment for future generations."

   The Ramah Band of Navajo Indians reside on a 146,953 acre reservation in west central New Mexico where livestock production has been an important source of sustenance for many generations. In recent years, however, farming and ranching have barely provided enough income to sustain basic human needs. Lacking sufficient returns for their labors, many farmers and ranchers have resorted to overgrazing and otherwise managing the land unwisely, resulting in environmental degradation. Young Navajos, confronted with unemployment, underemployment, and poverty at home, have been leaving the reservation for better-paying jobs. Consequently, the Navajo people are losing important elements of their traditional culture and identity.  

    To reverse this downward trend, Ramah Navaho community leaders established the TCDC to plan, coordinate, implement and manage the project through a Project Team comprised of community residents, Ramah Navaho government officials and Ramah Navaho Natural Resource/Agriculture Department staff.The project, titled "Diversification Strategy for the Ramah Navajo Agriculture Enterprise,"will focus on developing a vertically-integrated agriculture industry based on value-added livestock production, which means, in layman's language, a large-scale operation that utilizes advanced technology and innovative practices to produce and process more animals on less land than using traditional methods.

    As income increases along with greater productivity, and as the standard of living improves in the community, the Ramah Navaho culture is expected to be strengthened and preserved. In addition to the economic and cultural benefits, this  project will also benefit the environment through improved rangeland ecosystems and animal habitat. To facilitate the transfer of scientific technology, the Project Team will bring in agricultural and business professionals, private consultants, and other experts.

    The TCDC project was one of 45 projects funded nationwide under the Sustainable Development Challenge Grants program. The grants, totaling $5 million, are intended to provide leveraging for other public and private funding in the communities. The program promotes partnerships and encourages community-based projects that integrate environmental protection and local community and economic goals. For more information about Sustainable Development Challenge Grants, visit EPA's web site at