EBCI tribal member to serve as vice president of tribal food organization

by Aug 25, 2022NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments


One Feather Staff


The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) is one of two eastern federally recognized tribes that participates in SWIFT (Southwest Indian Food for Tribes), and now a tribal member will serve that organization as its vice president.

Amelia Owle-Arkansas (Photo courtesy of EBCI PHHS)

Amelia Owle-Arkansas, an EBCI tribal member who serves as the food delivery services supervisor for Cherokee Tribal Food Distribution, was elected to the vice president position on Aug. 11 to fill a vacancy. As such, she will serve a one-year term instead of the usual two-year term.

“Due to the short term limit, my only current goals are to provide a voice for our area and establish strong relationships with other FDPIR (Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations) programs that are members of the SWIFT region,” she said.

Owle-Arkansas explains that the EBCI and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians are the only two southeastern tribes in the FDPIR Southeast Region.  “Because there are only two regions, the USDA has combined our region with the Southwest Region to ensure our FDPIR program/region has appropriate representation with the USDA.  SWIFT currently represents seven states – New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, Utah, Mississippi, and North Carolina – encompassing 30 different tribes.”

She added, “The SWIFT program also participates in the Food Package Review Workgroup highlighting culturally-significant food for each region, and it ensures each FDPIR program is provided with the maximum support and representation from the USDA needed to effectively serve their tribe.”

Bringing a southeastern tribal perspective to the organization is important to Owle-Arkansas.  “With our region, we have our own foods that are cultural staples throughout our area.  With this new opportunity to serve as vice president, I hope to highlight some of our foods that are unique to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians culture.”

Owle-Arkansas, is also excited about the future of EBCI Tribal Food Distribution.  “Tribal Foods is looking forward to some big changes next year.  We will be moving into a new state-of-the-art building.  With this new building, we hope to serve our community and combat food insecurity along with giving our participants healthier food options.  We are excited about upcoming changes to our eligibility criteria and hope these changes will help us reach more of the community.”

She is also furthering her education.  Owle-Arkansas has two Associate Degrees – one in accounting and the other in office administration – and she is currently enrolled at Western Carolina University where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in business administration and law.

For more information about the EBCI Tribal Food Distribution Program, visit: https://food.ebci-nsn.gov