Growing on the Rez — Native American Entrepreneurship and The Green Rush

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With the legalization of recreational cannabis becoming more and more of a reality in California, the ensuing Green Rush promises a new economy and a new chance to profit. The opportunity extends to native reservations, whose distinct legal status means expediency for entrepreneurial tribes that want to grow cannabis for profit. But from sowing to selling, things are more complicated than they seem. Over a dinner in Vegas, Hopland Pomo Indian Tribal Chairman Joe San Diego and Will Htun of renowned cannabis grower Sherbinski share their story of the potential and the consequences of growing on an Indian reservation.

Text & Narration by Nate Kan
Audio by Elphick Wo
Photos by Eugene Kan

<p style="text-align: center;">Images courtesy of the <a href="http://www.hoplandtribe.com" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hopland Band of Pomo Indians</a>.</p>

Images courtesy of the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians.

I think a lot of natives have good ideas [...]. It's just a lot of natives don't have access to capital to make those ideas pop.

— Joe San Diego, Tribal Chairman of The Hopland Band of Pomo Indians

<p>The &#8220;Green Rush&#8221; could provide a much-needed revenue stream for Native tribes in California in the coming years.</p>

The “Green Rush” could provide a much-needed revenue stream for Native tribes in California in the coming years.

They [Native Americans] have neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of improvement which are essential to any favorable change in their condition.

Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States of America

<p>Hunter, Chairman of a Pomo Indian tribe based in Hopland, California, joins Sherbinskis for dinner.</p>

Hunter, Chairman of a Pomo Indian tribe based in Hopland, California, joins Sherbinskis for dinner.

We're creating jobs, creating wealth in the area, and you're going to come fuck with us? For what? Just because you think these tribes are going to make more money?

— Will Htun, Business Developer at Sherbinski

<p>Dinner with Sherbinskis at Carbone at ARIA Las Vegas.</p>

Dinner with Sherbinskis at Carbone at ARIA Las Vegas.

Our location has never been our strength, but I think in a cannabis space, our location is a strength.

— Joe San Diego, on the cultivation of cannabis on his reservation

They [local sheriffs] disregard everything [...]. They don't call tribal council or police. They come purely with mulchers [...]. That's a shakedown!

— Will Htun, on the raid at Hopland Rancheria

<p>Joe, another tribal chairman from Hopland, California opens up about his partnership with flower company Sherbinskis and the challenges Natives face in this space.</p>

Joe, another tribal chairman from Hopland, California opens up about his partnership with flower company Sherbinskis and the challenges Natives face in this space.

I really believe in synergy between people, the universe, everything itself. The more positive energy I can put into that [...] the more it comes back to me.

— Joe San Diego, Tribal Chairman of The Hopland Band of Pomo Indians

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