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Chris Roper, Agriculture Director of the Quapaw Tribe, stands next to a variety of products sold at the new Quapaw Mercantile distribution center in downtown Quapaw. The distribution center opened last week and is located in the heart of Quapaw for customer convenience. Photo by KIMBERLY BARKER / MNR

QUAPAW – The Quapaw Tribe opened up the new Quapaw Cattle Company distribution center last week.

Called Quapaw Mercantile, it is located in their office space in downtown Quapaw.

Quapaw Mercantile provides a variety of Quapaw Cattle Co. beef and bison products including ribeye steaks, beef bacon and bratwursts. The store is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Chris Roper, agriculture director for the tribe, said the new distribution center recently opened and offers convenience to its customers.

“It’s more convenient for local folks because they won’t have to travel very far to get local products,” Roper said. “All of our beef is hormone free and all Angus. We don’t put any additives into the meat at all. Our bison is the same way.”

The Quapaw Cattle Co. has more than 150 bison and 500 head of cattle dispersed along 1,500 acres of land throughout Miami and Quapaw. Their meat products are sold in Quapaw convenient stores located in Miami and by Downstream Casino.

Roper said the Quapaw Tribe currently serves its own meat products at their daycare centers, elder’s center and all of the restaurants inside of their casinos.

“We currently sell our beef sticks and our beef jerky in about 40 different retail outlets, which is always growing,” Roper said. “We’re constantly promoting our products to grow that entity.”

Later in 2016, the tribe plans to build its own red meat processing plant located by Quapaw Casino and East 66 Road. The cattle company's meat is currently processed at Four State Meat Processing LLC in Big Cabin, but the tribe hopes to start processing its own meat products by the end of the year.

“We have secured one grant for that already, and we have actively applied for several others,” Roper said. “We’ll be able to raise our animals, feed our own animals and process our own animals.”

Roper said they plan to expand the tribe's processing, but it is based on demand. Last year, the tribe processed over 750 animals.

“That’s not bad, but we’ve slowed down the processing a bit this year,” Roper said. “As markets continue to open up, we’ll continue to expand our market area.”

Quapaw Tribe agricultural programs

The tribe is also looking to expand its agricultural programs, where they work with green houses and approximately 50 beehives with various different species.

The tribe hopes to grow their own crops to feed to their cattle and bison later this year.

“We want to be able to grow our own feed products for our animals,” Roper said. “Currently, we have to purchase all of that, which is a pretty large expense. We’re looking to produce our own hay and crops.”

Tom Hardcastle serves as the tribe's agricultural manager while the greenhouses are run by horticulturist Gilbert Johnson and the beehives are maintained by Jonathan Tinsley. The bison and the greenhouses are located over by Downstream Casino and the 50 beehives are scattered all around the casino and Quapaw.

According to Roper, the tribe utilizes and conserves all of the products taken from the beehives and greenhouses.

“It’s a farm to table experience,” Roper said. “The greenhouses grow the vegetables and herbs that are used in the restaurants and the spa. They grow many varieties of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and broccoli. They’re also making candles out of the beeswax and salt scrubs with the herbs.”

Roper said the tribe is very nature and conservation oriented. The tribe started raising its own bison in 2010, began the greenhouses in fall of 2013 and launched their bee and cattle programs in 2014.

“Chairman John L. Berrey is very active in all of the tribal agricultural programs,” Roper said. “He is very much a visionary, and he supports all of the ag programs and promotes them everywhere he goes. From raising the cattle, bison and bees, he allows people to be creative with the products we produce.”

Expansion continues

Another new tribal building is Quapaw's Coffee Roasting facility located approximately a mile from Downstream Casino Resort.

The facility must undergo an inspection process before opening.

“We have a roasting facility located along the south side of I-44 at exit 1,” Roper said. “It’s located right along the service road before you get to Sandstone Gardens. Matthew Wicklund is our roasting manager.”

Roper said there will not be any retail sold out of the coffee house, which will strictly be for roasting. The beans that are roasted will be served in Quapaw businesses.

“We will start out serving coffee at Downstream and it will eventually grow from there,” Roper said.

Kimberly W. Barker is a staff writer for the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow her on Twitter @MiamiNews_hound.

Re-published with kind permission of the Miami News Record and Kimberly W. Barker.

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