The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI) is the only federally recognized tribe in Mississippi. Tribal lands are located throughout central Mississippi, made up of eight rural communities within five counties.
Tribal extension provides agricultural and youth services to the eight communities with on-site program delivery in conjunction with other tribal organizations. By linking MSU Extension Service with tribal resources and services, the program serves individual tribal members, Choctaw Tribal Schools, the Choctaw Vocational Rehabilitation Program, Choctaw Housing Authority, Tribal Forestry, Tribal Wildlife Law Enforcement, Boys and Girls Club, the Tribal 4-H Program, Special Diabetes program for Indians (SDPI) and the Tribal Recreation Department. Efforts are focused on promoting modern production, marketing, and consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables, and on providing adult and youth education in agriculture, health and nutrition, wildlife, forestry, financial management, and child and family development while increasing access of tribal communities to extension resources and services.
“FRTEP has provided several areas to provide technical assistance and develop skills. And I think accelerated our recouping of some of our traditions that we have lost, but also reinvigorated it to the youth that’s coming up today. And I think that just makes us a stronger community.”
FRTEP programs have had a major impact on individuals, families and tribal communities. Just how much impact has now been quantified thanks to a research project that used Ripple Effects Mapping (REM) and content analysis. The Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) engaged in a joint collaboration with an evaluation team and the Western Extension Risk Management Education Center to measure the long-term impacts of the Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program (FRTEP) serving the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Click the link below to read the report.
Tribal 4-H program
The tribe operates its own 4-H program, with the assistance of the extension agent, to ensure that the children have the tools to become productive citizens on or off the reservation. 4-H conducts an annual fishing rodeo, has an entomology club, fashion club and a host of other activities similar to 4-H programs across the South. The 4-H program takes a hands-on approach via field trips so that students can see how education and technology is used.
The Tribe owns approximately 40,000 acres of land, with a large portion covered in mixed pine and hardwood stands of timber. As with any commodity, the business of timber management is an ever-evolving enterprise. With the implementation of the latest research information in the form of Extension programs brought to the tribe, they are better-suited to make decisions that will positively impact the short and long-term plans of the tribal forest resources.
Choctaw tribal members have traditionally been an agriculture-based society. Even today, more than 400 people apply to participate in the tribal garden program each year, and producing one’s own food is an activity that will surely be a part of Choctaw culture for many years to come. Thanks to tribal extension, the community can also take advance of technological advances in a timely way.
- Collaborated with local land-grant University to create COVID-19 flyer specifically for Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.
- Created COVID-19 Newsletter for tribal members.
- Assisted with Choctaw Farmer’s Market managers to help create ideas for contactless, curbside service.
Tawnya Holliman – Program Director