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Did You Know Starblanket Band Farm Began in the 1880's?

Martha Ironstar

"Ancestors of the Starblanket Band began farming establishments in the late 1800's in the area of livestock mainly, where cattle, horses and sheep were raised. In the 1920's grain farming came into existence, while livestock farming still persisted. The participants by this time were such people as Charles Bigknife, Victor Starr, Joe Starr, deceased Louis Starr and others. These first farmers and those who have struggled through the successive decades, experiencing the yearly problems of farming are, in spirit, the genesis and inspiration of the Starblanket Farm today," said Gerry Starr, Manager of the Farm.

The Starblanket Farm was funded principally from four main agencies in the period 1972 to 1982. Total funding of $600,000.00 in this period.

The Starblanket Band $210,000 35%
Special ARDA Dree 175,000 29%
SIAP 105,000 18%
Other Agencies- CW, IAB, WOP 110,000 18%

The farm is administered and directed by the council of the Band, along with two other Band members, and is not presently incorporated, however the farm maintains it's own set of records. Although numerous changes have occured throughout the years, the Band's original objective remain the same today. That is to promote the interest of Indian people in agriculture, and to develop an economically viable farm unit.

"The threat of drought, the rise of interest rates, the tight money situations, the soaring costs of conducting farm business, are only a few of the many challenges Indian farmers face today," said Starr.

Band farm
Band Farm Property

Starblanket Farm, through it's council, and the conscientious efforts of Gerry, Willard, Gilbert Sr., Mervin Kinequon and George Starr are willing and able to meet the challenges of the 80's. To this end, the band has considered and instituted several alternatives. They are:

• to understand agriculture related training courses
• purchase adequate farming machinery
• institute the uses of chemicals and fertilizers
• ladies of the Band to implement courses, host functions
• youth involvement in summer employment ex. 4-H
• discussing Housing and Land Use policies
• use of front end loaders for transporting hay and winter feed
• implementation of a cropping plan
• use of grain dryer
• garage and grain feeding with the use of mix mills as well as pasture rotation.

Since 1972, the farm has paid out some $550,000.00 in wages. Honored by visits from Secretary of Aboriginal Economic Policy - Australia, Mr. Bill Gray, Chinese delegation relative to state farms, visits by other reserves and by Manitoba and Ontario Indian Agriculture Program delegations.

The livestock herd has increased from 0 in 1972 to 500 head in 1985 but the farm is currently in the feedlot area, with individuals in the cow/calf areas. Cultivated acreage has increased from 0 in 1972 to 3500 in acres today. Total land being utilized by the Farm either as pasture of cultivation is now 10,500 form one in 1972.

Did You Know Starblanket Band Farm Began in the 1880's?

Martha Ironstar

Around 1974 when the Farm had a basic herd of about 65 head, there was no water facilities. The workers had to haul the water, pail by pail in order to water the herd over winter.

They contributed some 50,000 hours which represents 1/3 of the total hours in the last nine years. There are other workers who have assisted this farm over the years (some 76,000 hours) and Gerry would like - to thank these people as well, they are; Brian, Allan, Marcel, Michael, Lindsay, Gilbert, Lynn, Leslie, Dennis Starr, deceased Floyd Kinequon, Allan, Albert, Albert and Gilbert Keewatin, William Akapew, Sidney, Robert and Ken Akapew, Jake and Ryan Akapew.

In conclusion, Mr. Gerry Starr extends best wishes to everyone mentioned during the festive season and the ensuing years ahead.