TAHLEQUAH, Okla. In an effort to establish a local farm-to-table operation Cherokee Nation is adding to their tribal business portfolio with the opening of a meat processing plant.

Named in commemoration of the year the Cherokee Nation became united by the constitution, the 1839 Cherokee Meat Company’s mission is to provide a safe and clean operation promoting food security for generations of Cherokee citizens, ranchers and communities. 

By addressing the shortage of meat processing capacity with the 1839 Cherokee Meat Company the tribe is supporting local agriculture and locally sourced food, all for the benefit of Cherokee citizens and the region’s economy, said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., in a prepared statement.

The meat processing plant is expected to grow in phases. Once the tribe’s bison operation reaches sustainability, the plant will eventually use surplus animals from the bison herd to provide for Cherokees.

The 12,000-square-foot USDA and state-certified meat processing plant is located off Highway 51 in a repurposed tribal property in Tahlequah and is operated by the tribe’s business arm.

“As the Cherokee people navigated through the pandemic, we learned valuable lessons about food security and food sovereignty,” Hoskin said.

The meat processing plant will grow economic development through agricultural programs, while also addressing food security for generations of Cherokee citizens through sustainable and locally sourced meat, he said.

“Cherokee Nation Businesses are well known for driving economic and community development while operating industry-leading brands in hospitality, federal contracting and the film industry, as well as cultural preservation and tourism,” said Molly Jarvis, Cherokee Nation Business senior vice president. “As a company, we hold ourselves to the highest of standards, and I believe all Cherokees can be proud of what we have and will produce here.”

To mitigate the long-term damage of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cherokee Nation launched the COVID-19 Respond, Recover and Rebuild relief plan and spent $27 million to address food security, including the construction of the meat processing facility, five new food distribution centers, and additional refrigerated trucks.