PAWHUSKA, OK – During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, however, hand sanitizer was scarce within the Osage Nation service area. To avoid future supply chain issues and the need to rely on third party distributors, the Osage Nation has purchased a state-of-the-art distillery using CARES Act funds to have the ability to make hand sanitizer independently.
“With CARES Act funds, we were able to secure state-of-the-art distilling equipment,” said Osage Nation Secretary of Natural Resources Jann Hayman. “At the time, hand sanitizer supplies were in high demand with low supply, especially in our area. Currently, that is no longer the case and we want to be able to put this equipment to good use, while educating our team members on how to operate it.”
The Osage Nation has worked diligently to remain compliant within the spending rules and regulations of CARES Act spending. Having trained staff members ready to use the distillery if the need were to arise is a key component in this process, but finding that training has been a challenge. In late 2022, Secretary Hayman signed a lease agreement with restauranter Hunter Stone Gambill in a first step to get the Osage Nation’s distillery up and running and training employees.
Hunter Stone Gambill, a Choctaw tribal member, is the owner of Gambill’s Pastaria & Grocery and OK Distilling Company based in Tulsa, OK. With an extensive education and background in food and beverage management, he opened OK Distilling in 2017. In addition to leasing the equipment to produce his company’s products, the lease agreement includes an apprenticeship component to train Osage Nation employees on how to work the machinery, as well as food branding development for future Osage Nation products.
“This partnership is a great way to train our team, while building collaborative relationships with Native-owned companies,” said Secretary Hayman. “Our team members can learn how to use the distillery equipment to make hand sanitizer and also learn more about product branding and placement. This will help us get the food we are growing and harvesting at Harvest Land and Butcher House to more family’s dinner tables. There is a lot of potential for this to grow in a meaningful way to benefit the Osage Nation.”
The Natural Resources Department continues to review ways to protect Osage Nation’s sovereignty and enhance the communities it serves.
“If another pandemic hits, we will now be able to both feed our people and help keep them safer due to our local, COVID insulated supply chains for both food and hand sanitizer,” said Hayman.