The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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April 21, 2014

SLIDE SHOW: Quapaw Tribe sets up cattle ranch near Downstream Casino

— In a scene straight from a Frederic Remington painting of the Old West, cowboys on horseback drove a slow-moving herd of Angus cows and calves across a pasture.

But instead of wide-open grassland, the backdrop for a roundup Monday was the Downstream Casino Resort.

On Monday, the Quapaw Tribe took delivery of 140 Angus cattle — 70 cows with one calf each — from the Spur Ranch west of Vinita, one of the oldest ranches in Oklahoma. The cattle were released on 160 acres of land the tribe owns north of the casino. In about 18 months, the tribe will be getting steak from this herd for its Red Oak Steakhouse at the casino.

“We’re getting control of the quality of the meat we use,” said Chris Roper, with the tribe’s fledgling agricultural program. “We’ll know what’s in it, and we’ll know where it comes from.”

The cattle have been branded by the Quapaw. The brand — three feathers and a staff — was created by Ranny McWatters, a member of the tribe.

Roper said the tribe owns thousands of acres of land in Northeast Oklahoma, Southeast Kansas and Southwest Missouri that can be used to support the herd and the tribe’s agricultural program.

The cattle also will provide beef for the food program that serves tribal members, according to Marilyn Rogers, who serves on the tribe’s business committee.

“The Quapaws were farmers,” she said. “We’re going back to the earth to support ourselves. We are trying to be more sustainable, and we’re planning on growing more.”

The tribe’s agriculture program, she said, is creating jobs as it grows.

The tribe erected four greenhouses last fall to grow herbs and vegetables for casino restaurants. Three of those greenhouses are full. The fourth is nearly full. The tribe also is growing flowers and shrubs.

The tribe also has a herd of buffaloes, which are kept in a pasture that is separate from the cattle. Three new calves were born last week. They, too, could become part of the menu.

“We’re developing a working facility for the buffalo,” Roper said. “We’ll have a chute and a place where our vet can work.”

The tribe plans to bring 40 buffaloes to the casino this fall from Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

Rogers said the buffaloes have become a tourist attraction.

“People who live in a town don’t get much of a chance to see buffalo,” she said. “Since we are in the country, we can do that.”

What’s next?

“Chairman John Berrey is looking into setting up a bunch of beehives,” Roper said.

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