Oak Creek Dispensary 2024

Oak Creek Dispensary 2024

Fort Independence Indian Community goes vertical with cannabusiness

By Christina Reed
The Hired Pen


“We believe in the healing properties of cannabis, CBD, and nature”–Oak Creek Dispensary


Eastern Sierra, CA—“Our land. Our water.” This is the statement that Oak Creek Dispensary prides itself on, and the vertically-integrated cannabusiness is owned and operated by the Fort Independence Indian Community. “Our Paiute Indian ancestors settled this land, and we’ve been protecting and nurturing it ever since.” The Oak Creek introduction includes, “The plants grown at our cultivation facility, Oak Creek Farms, are fed with water from Oak Creek. Over two dozen strains of exotic craft cannabis are grown and harvested with these sacred waters drawn from the Sierra Nevada.”

The Fort Independence Indian Community (FIIC)
“The Paiute people have lived here since time immemorial and we fought to keep our place in the sacred Owens Valley. We’ve struggled. We’ve resisted. But ultimately, we’ve grown stronger. Today, our land is still cared for by the Fort Independence Indian Community—a sovereign and federally-recognized Native American Tribe. We proudly continue our ancestors’ mission to protect and nourish our Land, our water, and our people. We own and operate Oak Creek Dispensary and Oak Creek Farms.” Oak Creek Farms uses “the pure waters of Oak Creek to farm the land,” and they’re “cultivating exotic strains,” as well as clones, to sell in the storefront.

However, using Oak Creek (tsakica witu: oak place) for irrigation of crops isn’t new in the Owens Valley. By around AD 1000, the Paiutes had built an elaborate irrigation system with dams and canals, which flowed from the many creeks and tributaries into the Owens River. Large fields were flooded in spring time to water their favorite crops, which were tubers and bulbs. A favorite was nahavita, the wild hyacinth, a beautiful, blue, lily-shaped flower, and an edible root bulb, like an onion. Oak Creek has such a deep history too, showing us evidence that once it was dammed for irrigation.

Today’s cannabusiness, at Oak Creek Dispensary shows just such ingenuity and respect for the medicinal properties of cannabis. And, from seeds to clone plant sales, from creating and manufacturing unique strains of cannabis products, including edibles (on site), to owning and maintaining a cultivation operation, at Oak Creek Farms, the goals are directed by a tribal business committee, notes, Alisa Lee, Vice Chairwoman of the FIIC. The Oak Creek cannabusiness is “tax free, purposely,” adds Lee. It’s medicinal for many people, and “we don’t want to create a barrier” to access. Visiting Oak Creek Dispensary should bring about “a sense of reprieve,” Lee says. Carl Dahlberg, Chairman, and Jack Bracken, Secretary / Treasurer of FIIC, work with Lee to keep the many aspects of the tribe’s businesses moving forward, from conception to the present.

There is a lot to learn about a vertically-integrated cannabusiness, and regulations are handled by the Tribal Cannabis Control Council, Lee explains. There are four core employees at the storefront, and each one has an integral part in the atmosphere, and products being created, and sold at the counters. There is a drive-through service available, so there are a lot of parts to managing the storefront. Daniel Miller, Assistant Manager, is interested in “learning more about cannabis,” and the science behind cannabis. It’s a complex plant, and although it’s called a “weed,” not all weeds are created equal. Miller’s job is to educate clients, and guide people about their individual sensitivity to cannabis. And, Oak Creek’s Dispensary carries flower, oils, tinctures, edibles, topicals, beverages, chocolate chip cookies, fudge, and gummies, as well as many of their own Hi-Country products. There is glassware, clothing, caps, Fort Independence Travel Center souvenirs, and you can observe the staff creating some of the edibles while you are shopping.

Cannabis has been in use and cultivated for more than 6,000 years. There are two main sub-species, called Cannabis indica and Cannabis sativa. These plants look different, and act differently, in chemical compounds and terpenes (pronounced TER-peens), which enhance the effect of cannabinoids. Sativa strains are taller and have thin, lighter green leaves. Indica strains are short with broad, dark green leaves. Cannabis has 426 chemical entities, with more than 60 cannabinoid compounds, including the primary compounds of d-9-THC, d-8-THC, CBD, and cannabinol.

Endnote: Cannabis affects individuals differently, and it is important to know / understand what variants of cannabis are right for your medicinal or recreational needs. Generally speaking, the word “cannabis” means products that come from Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica. “Marijuana” is a reference to parts / products of the cannabis plants which contain a lot of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound responsible for the effects/ or “high” a person experiences.