FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A group of researchers from North and South Dakota is working on a project to help members of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation restore the land and raise cattle.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is giving nearly $5 million to the program as part of an initiative to boost local food systems and reduce hunger. Seven grants were awarded nationwide.

Project leader Robert Maddock of North Dakota State University says the goal is to increase beef production and ultimately develop a food processing center on the reservation.

Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan says the grant is a "big thing" for tribal members because they're interested in developing food sources that are compatible with American Indian traditions.

The Standing Rock reservation is home to about 9,000 people in the Dakotas.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.