ALBUQUERQUE – Since 1985 research-based information has been presented to Navajo and Pueblo livestock growers by New Mexico State University’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at an annual event.
Through the years the name of the premier agricultural conference for Native Americans in the Southwest has evolved to become the New Mexico Indian Livestock Days.
This year’s three-day conference will be Wednesday–Friday, May 10-12, at the Route 66 Casino Hotel, west of Albuquerque on Interstate 40. It will begin at noonWednesday and end at noon Friday.
Registration fee is $80, which includes lunch Thursday. Exhibitor booth fees are $175.
Session topics will include animal nutrition and disease, forage, weed management, range management, all-terrain vehicle safety, drought insurance and reports from U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies.
“Indian Livestock Days began in the 1970s and was initially called All Indian Livestock School,” said Kathy Landers, NMSU Cooperative Extension Service agricultural agent in McKinley County. “It was discontinued in 1978 and reestablished in 1985, at the request of tribal livestock producers.”
Originally, the event was held in April and hosted on NMSU’s Las Cruces campus. In 1996, the program was renamed Indian Livestock Days and the location was moved to the Four Corners area to make it easier for clientele to attend the event. In 2008 the conference was moved to Albuquerque to accommodate the increasing attendance.
“This event has grown from approximately 65 attendees in 1996, to nearly 250 attendees in 2016,” Landers said. “It is now an annual event held in May conducted by NMSU’s Cooperative Extension Service.”
What makes the conference unique is the people.
“Tribal members raising livestock face many challenges – not enough land, not enough feed on the land they have, and not enough water – just to name a few,” Landers said. “One of their main challenges is to remain true to their ancestors and their religious beliefs. With that being said, it does not hold them back, it just makes it more of a challenging experience, and raising livestock means much more to them than the average citizen.”
The conference is a grassroots program driven by clientele needs and interests. The planning committee includes members of various tribes in New Mexico, NMSU Extension state specialists, and Extension agents, who serve the Native American population.
Comments from attendees of past Indian Livestock Days include: “Good mix of technical, economics and working ranch skills.” “Thank you for bringing education to us ranchers.” “Thank you for the respectful acknowledgement of each of our different cultures, religions, languages, etc.”