Tolani Lake Enterprises explores Leupp feed lot

LEUPP, Ariz. — Tolani Lake Enterprises (TLE) was awarded $99,999 to examine the feasibility of creating a sustainable, environmental friendly, USDA certified, Navajo-owned harvest facility and feed lot in the community of Leupp, Arizona.

The geographic focus of this project will be the Leupp, Tolani Lake, Birdsprings, Coalmine and Cameron chapters.

The purpose of the project would be to harvest local, range-fed Navajo and non-Native beef and lamb for local, affordable, and healthy consumption.

TLE has been working on food security issues for over 10 years and has been the leading organization initiating this proposed project for the last three years. They have brought together several chapters, Coconino County, DinéHózhó, L3C, Navajo Nation, Harvard University, Colorado Plateau Foundation, ranchers, farmers and others to educate on the opportunity and garner support.

“We remember our grandmothers and grandfathers dry farming, adapting to climate change and raising livestock for organic produce while always respecting the health of the entire ecosystem,” the grant team said. “Those critical values and teachings have gone with many of them and we no longer are able to sustain our families and have accepted dependency on short term government assistance and unhealthy, addicting, and low quality food options in towns far from our homes.”

The proposed project is a long term solution to addressing the inextricable links between poverty, economic leakage, poor health, environmental injustice, climate change, biodiversity decline and loss of indigenous practices and language.

A partner in the effort, DinéHózhó L3C, is leading the way in supporting social ventures that attracts investors and foundations looking for a social return rather than a big financial return. The success of the harvest facility will be dependent on community capacity building activities, financial strategy to diversify capital and community ownership (co-operative structures). DinéHózhó Manager and Cameron Vice President, Emmett Kerley, provided a Diné perspective on management of land and livestock by retelling the prophecies and creation stories about sheep and cattle.

From these important stories comes understanding that when raising livestock, it is not about making profit, but about the symbiotic relationship with all life and the creation of quality products we can take pride in.

“Sustainability is a mindset that gives us a healthy definition of ownership in order to replenish resources and pass on this knowledge to the next generation,” he said.

Kerley will be the main presenter for the first scheduled workshop Oct. 11 at Leupp Chapter, focusing on Diné cultural sustainable practices.

More details, updates and a calendar of events related to this project will be posted at and

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