Building on hemp: Diné hemp producer starts business enterprise off Navajo


Even though hemp is now legal in the United States, it is still banned on the Navajo Nation, putting the kibosh on what many consider a huge economic opportunity for individual growers and the Nation as a whole.

Diné hemp producer Ira Vandever is living proof that the Nation is not only missing out on economic development opportunities but is losing families to off-reservation lands who have been forced to find ways to make a living elsewhere due to Nation’s draconian cannabis laws.

“We use hemp for fiber,” said Vandever. “We don’t grow it to smoke it or even extract the oils.”

Vandever, a former health-care administrator, restaurateur and business strategist, decided to buy a large parcel of land in Cubero, New Mexico, east of his homelands in Baca/Prewitt, so that he could set up a hemp business, Turquoise Indigo Fibers, without getting into legal trouble on Navajo.

“I was thinking of how to…

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