1992 Finalist
Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico
Innovations in American Government Awards
Innovations in American Government Awards
New Mexico

Throughout their history, New Mexico's native Santa Ana have been agriculturalists. In recent decades, a lack of accessible credit has begun to discourage family farming and has led to an increase in off-reservation wage work. In the 1940s and 1950s, off-reservation work had escalated to an all time high; by the 1960s, Santa Ana farming had nearly become extinct. And yet, even in the absence of farming, Santa Ana culture continued to revolve around the agrarian calendar.

The Santa Ana's continued cultural commitment to an agrarian lifestyle eventually led the Tribal Government, in the 1980s, to create a long-term plan to install the infrastructure necessary to restore agriculture for both cultural and economic ends. The key to this plan was a conceptual focus shift from the individual farmer to the tribal as a whole, and it collective agricultural efforts. This new comprehensive approach freed the Tribal Administration to provide financial support unavailable for individuals. The result, known as the Revival of Traditional Tribal Economy Program, was the creation of a farm that utilized organic growing techniques and reintroduced ancient agricultural practices into tribal life.

Although ancient practices governed farm operation, the Tribal Administration, in an effort to ensure the farm's sustainability and allow it to reach its full economic potential, also adopted modern development strategies. The Administration expanded the farm's range of crops to include non-traditional, high value crops. The farms marketplace, which formerly consisted of a five to ten mile radius around Santa Ana farms, was similarly expanded to an area of with a radius of five to ten thousand miles. Perhaps the most notable policy shift was the decision to integrate the grinding and packaging of crops such as blue corn into daily farm operation. This particular effort led to job opportunities for the Santa Ana, as well as associated income increases.

As a result of the farm's economic success, the Tribal Administration were able to build both a grain mill and a nursery, both of which significantly enhanced the Santa Ana's agricultural production. The Revival of Traditional Tribal Economy Program has successfully maximized Santa Ana land-use, promoted economic development, provided employment, and fostered awareness of the agricultural elements central to Santa Ana culture.