MHA Nation Tribal Member a Strong Advocate for Native Farmers and Ranchers

New Executive Director of Indian Agriculture Council Stands Strong with Mother Earth in Goals for Sustainability

By Logan J. Davis

The path in life that Kari Jo Lawrence has always been filled with plenty of exciting goals that is tied to the land and her love for nature. What has inspired her to reach every milestone is her passion for helping people and supporting the ones who are connected to the land and wants to care for Mother Earth. She has seen a new movement across the country thanks to organizations like the Indian Agriculture Council, an organization that has recently hired her as the executive director. 

Lawrence was in Billings, Montana this week organizing the new office for the IAC and she is excited to work at a position that has unique goals for the future of farming and ranching. 

“To become the administrator of an organization where I can make a difference and help native farmers and ranchers is a dream come true,” stated Lawrence. “I recall the farm crisis of the 1980s and to see bankruptcies occur all over the country was sad, but this is really exciting stepping into this role, because I been working in conservation with regenerative and sustainable farming all of my life working with nature in a good way. Our American Indian ancestors have always done that. Farming and



ranching in a way that is above and below the ground that is healthy is important. It should not be just putting a bunch of chemicals into the ground is not natural. It effects the soil, earth and water and we should not be making such a negative footprint. AIC is working a funding model, so that farmers and ranchers can make those adjustments to use regenerative farming and ranching. We have to be able afford to make a better tomorrow.

Lawrence fondly remembers the way her father, the late Ed Hall was able to ranch in a natural way that offered a wonderful balance. Those are great memories of waking up early with her father and jump on a horse or truck and going to work on the ranch.

“I grew up on a horse in the Mandaree and New Town area,” Lawrence recalls. “Dad had a group of longhorn cattle around New Town and he loved having those longhorns and they were a little naughty sometimes where they would get out and we had to round them up. I remember thinking back then, if I had children, I wanted to raise them on a ranch. My husband (Doug Lawrence) and I have cow-calf fairs where we sell the calves and we have fun with that.

The Lawrence family of White Horse, South Dakota started their own operation in 2006. The couple has a young son Wynn and the trio has a fun time going to rodeos and competing in breakaway and team roping while their 12-year-old son is doing a bit of everything that includes roping and riding, but riding bulls is his favorite thing to do in the arena.

Lawrence was working previously as a district conservationist for the USDA for 20 years before becoming the director of programs for two years at the Indian Agriculture Council. It is a natural transition for Lawrence. She has hit the ground meeting with a lot of people working towards the same goal and she works closely with many partners across the nation. She noted that there are technical assistants with each tribe at the Bureau of Indian Affairs level who work with their local native ranchers and farmers.

“Farm to school, ranching and farming techniques, training and technical side of agriculture for American Indians – you name it, our hands are in it helping in whatever can make it better. If anyone wants to know about our work and what we have to offer,  IAC has a newsletter on a weekly basis for

Kari Jo Lawrence is the daughter of Jean Hall and the late Ed Hall of New Town.