By Alan Sorensen
ROCKY BOY -- The National Tribal Development Association, headquartered at Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation, is out to expand markets for Native American products worldwide.
On Wednesday, NTDA Executive Director John "Roddy" Sunchild was awarded a USDA contract to expand Indian agricultural interests here at home.
The $58,000 contract award is for a one-year media blitz designed to encourage Native American involvement in Farm Service Agency county committee elections.
Traveling to NTDA's headquarters in the RJS & Associates building on the Chippewa Cree Tribe's homeland to make the presentation were Montana Farm Services Agency Executive Director Bruce Nelson and Nancy Peterson of Havre, FSA State Committee chair for Montana.
"We're trying to increase the involvement of Native Americans in the election process," Daryl "Buck" Wright of NTDA said. "We'll be doing advertisements in key areas. Florida, for instance, has considerable Indian ag holdings but only one committee member who is Native American."
Wright said the campaign is national in scope, but that NTDA will target specific areas that demonstrate very low Indian participation.
Hill County's FSA committee has had at least one Indian member for the last few years. Tony Belcourt was elected to the committee last year.
Wright said Wednesday's award marks the beginning of NTDA's third year with the campaign.
"This is the third year of the media blitz campaign," Wright said, "and we have seen as a result of the campaign, which we deem to be highly successful, there has been considerable increase in the number of Native Americans on these committees."
Wright said the campaign will be waged primarily over the Internet, in newspapers and with some radio spots.
"We may target specific states with increased number of ads," he said. "Probably in what we consider the phase of the final hours."