Muscogee (Creek) Tribal Town Receives Federal Grant

Amanda Rutland/Media Specialist

butterfly
Jessica McBride/Editorial Assistant

OKMULGEE, Okla. — The Euchee Butterfly Farm and Thlopthlocco Tribal Town received a $497,530 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Business Enterprise for their Natives Raising Natives Project.

This project will allow Thlopthlocco as well as Muscogee (Creek) citizens to raise species of butterflies native to the area to supplement their income.

Initially, NRNP received start up funds from the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Small Business Development Center and Muscogee Nation Business Enterprise. A full account of this arrangement can be viewed in the June 15 edition of the ‘Muscogee Nation News.’

According to NRNP Director and Muscogee (Creek) citizen Jane Breckinridge, the grant provides the ability to develop an infrastructure to support long-term success.

“The ultimate goal with this thing is promote conservation and education, obviously; but also to create these jobs. And in order to make sure these jobs stay around for the long term, we have to make sure it is economically sustainable,” Breckinridge said.

Breckinridge said Oklahoma is a prime candidate for butterfly farming because the state contains 11 different ecosystems.

She stated that butterfly farming is a good way to make use of land otherwise unsuitable for planting crops.

“This is a good way to take land that might not be good for other types of agriculture and make it yield more,” Breckenridge said.

Thlopthlocco Tribal Town Tribal Administrator Ed Mouss said poverty levels in Okfuskee County are high.

“The long term effort is to develop economically to raise the living standard of membership,” Mouss said. “I know a lot of the population is below poverty level.”

Breckinridge believes this is a means of income in which most everyone could participate. She estimates participants could make about $400 a month.

“Right now what we are shooting for is to provide this as a part-time income source for people,” Breckinridge said.

The goal for the first two years is to have 100 participants in the program. The grant also provides start up materials free of charge for Native Americans.

“We can supply through grants and other funding, all the materials to make cost not be a barrier to people,” Breckinridge said.

In addition to economic growth, the funds allow for the creation of a visitor center.

Breckinridge said the center would be located near Tulsa, Okla., and bring in additional revenue to funnel back into the program.

“So that people from all over Oklahoma can come and see these butterflies for an admission fee,” Breckinridge said.

Mouss said the center is still in the planning stages and is over a year away from opening.

The NRNP is over to all Native Americans. For more information call: 918-366-0964 or email Natives Raising Natives Project Director Jane Breckinridge at: jane@nativebutterflies.org.