Blog Posts Related to the Native American Community

  • "Gen-I" Ambassadors Celebrated at White House Tribal Nations Conference and in MTV Rebel Music Film

    On December 3rd, President Obama hosted the 6th annual White House Tribal Nations conference where he announced Generation Indigenous (“Gen-I”), a new initiative focused on removing the barriers that stand between Native youth and their opportunity to succeed using a comprehensive, culturally appropriate approach.  In addition to leaders from the 566 federally-recognized Native nations, for the first time, 37 high-school aged “Gen-I” Native Youth Ambassadors were invited to engage with the President, Vice President, and Cabinet Officials representing the White House Council on Native American Affairs on key issues facing tribes. The Conference built on the President’s visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in June, during which he and First Lady Michelle Obama met with a group of Lakota young adults and learned about the obstacles and problems they had experienced resulting from substance abuse, violence and other poverty-related issues.

    Through “Gen I”, the Youth Ambassadors represented the voice of Native youth at the Conference by joining with tribal leaders in breakout sessions and panels and participating in leadership development programming. Click here to learn more about Gen-I! The 2014 Youth Ambassadors came from across the country, from Alaska to North Carolina, and are an inspiring group with big plans for making a positive impact in their communities.  Over the course of their trip to D.C., they participated in exciting events in advance of the Conference, including a White House screening of MTV’s riveting Rebel Music: Native America premiere episode followed by a panel discussion including Rebel Music creator Nusrat Durrani and Lakota rapper Frank Waln and a signing ceremony for a new MOU between the Indian Health Service and Nike N7, which included a visit with 2014 FIFA World Cup Kiowa soccer player Chris Wondolowski.  Several of the Ambassadors were featured in a new MTV video “Meet Generation Indigenous” that followed two of the youth on their inspiring journey from their home communities to Washington, D.C. 

  • Student Voices Session: Shining a Spotlight on Native Youth in Foster Care

    15 foster care youth representing American Indian and Alaska Native nations talk with Secretaries Duncan and Jewell

    Seanna Pieper-Jordan (far right) joins 14 other current and former foster care youth representing American Indian and Alaska Native nations from across the United States in a discussion with Secretaries Arne Duncan and Sally Jewell. (Photo credit: Paul Wood/U.S. Department of Education)

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Education's blog. See the original post here.

    Youth from every ethnicity and population group experience challenges. American Indian and Alaska Native youth in the foster care system often also must contend with a disconnection from their tribal communities and cultures.

    On Dec. 8th, I attended a Student Voices session at the White House hosted by the Department of Education (ED) and Department of Interior. During this time, I witnessed the Obama Administration turn a corner on an issue that is too often invisible to the general public and politicians — understanding the plight of Native youth in foster care.

    Fifteen current and former foster care youth representing American Indian and Alaska Native nations from across the United States sat down with Secretaries Arne Duncan and Sally Jewell at the event to discuss the unique struggles that Native youth face.

    They all courageously shared stories of survival before entering foster care and of a heartbreaking desire to remain connected to their tribes when placed in foster homes far from their tribal communities. For me, their stories and my own share a key message — take us away from our homes and our culture, and you take us away from our identity and our drive to achieve.

  • When Tribes Compete, Tribes Can Succeed

    U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez meets with 15-year-old Ki Fredeen

    U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez meets with 15-year-old Ki Fredeen at Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s Fab Lab on Monday, July 21, 2014. Fredeen was showing the Secretary how he uses a 3-D printer to produce small art pieces. (by U.S. Department of Labor)

    Ed. note: This was originally posted on the U.S. Department of Labor's blog yesterday. See the original post here.

    When President Obama made his first trip to Indian Country earlier this year, he told a compelling story about the impact federal investment and partnerships have in tribal communities. So I was privileged today to participate in the President’s sixth White House Tribal Nations Conference. Because of the challenges tribal communities continue to face with high rates of unemployment and barriers to opportunity, the conference was an important chance to discuss the Department of Labor and Administration’s efforts to create shared prosperity in Indian Country – and to hear from tribal leaders directly about their ideas for expanding and improving our work.

  • Helping to Boost Business Development for Native American Entrepreneurs

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Small Business Administration's blog. See the original post here.

    Native American Heritage Month is a time to reflect on the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S. The month is a time for Native people to share their culture, traditions, art, and ways of knowing with the entire nation. American Indians and Alaskan Natives were also the country’s first entrepreneurs, and the SBA is working hard every day to ensure that the entrepreneurial spirit of Native people continues to thrive.

    The SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs offers a variety of Entrepreneurial Empowerment workshops nationwide. These workshops provide specialized training to new entrepreneurs and to established Native American businesses that are positioned to grow. They are developed to be culturally relevant and responsive to the challenges and needs of their communities.

    This year alone we’ve held 19 workshops in 17 states, and more than 50 tribes have sent representatives. We also hold 8(a) business development workshops nationwide that focus on the unique rules and considerations for tribally and Native-owned corporations and organizations. In 2014, over 500 individuals representing 109 different tribal communities attended these sessions. In 2015, we will be increasing our number of workshops to ensure that we reach even more entrepreneurs throughout Indian Country.

  • Responding to Sexual Violence in Indian Country

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Justice's blog. See the original post here.

    Sexual violence is a devastating and pervasive problem throughout the nation, and its shocking prevalence on tribal lands is especially troubling.

    Particularly in recent years, the Department of Justice has made it a top priority to put an end to that unacceptable status quo – from our work to secure and pass important new protections for women in Indian Country, as part of last year’s reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, to the creation of an American Indian/Alaska Native Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Sexual Assault Response Team Initiative through the Department’s Office for Victims of Crime.

    Bringing together diverse federal offices, as well as tribal nations and organizations, this Initiative’s critical mission is to strengthen the federal response to sexual violence in tribal nations. On Friday, I had the privilege of meeting with the Initiative’s Coordination Committee to discuss ways to take this work to a new level – and to receive the Committee’s formal report and concrete recommendations on improving federal agency response to sexual violence in tribal nations.

  • Expanding Opportunities for Tribal Communities

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Labor's blog. See the original post here.

    Since Labor Secretary Tom Perez arrived one year ago this week, he has referred to the Department of Labor as the “Department of Opportunity.” He believes it’s our mission to expand opportunities by ensuring that all Americans are treated fairly at work, that they are safe while on the job, and that they have access to the training and employment resources to achieve their goals. And he’s made this a priority for Native Americans and Alaska Natives, who often face unacceptably high levels of unemployment in their communities and tribal nations.

    Earlier this week, Secretary Perez traveled to Alaska to meet with leaders from the Cook Inlet Tribal Council to see how our investments − through grants from the department’s Division of Indian and Native American Programs − are creating opportunity for native peoples. Gloria O’Neill, who has served as president of the council since 1998, shared how the funding has helped expand social services for her community: Today, more than 12,000 individuals benefit annually from a wide array of programs, including child and family services, education, employment and training services, and programs helping formerly incarcerated individuals successfully transition back into their community.

  • President Obama Engages Native Youth at My Brother’s Keeper Town Hall

    Today, President Obama hosted a town hall session where he gave remarks to announce new commitments in support of the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) initiative and engaged in dialogue with young boys and men of color. Youth from the Center for Native American Youth’s Champions for Change program, the Native American Political Leadership Institute’s INSPIRE Initiative, and the Navajo Nation attended the town hall and asked the President about the Administration’s work to support Native American language and cultural preservation. The President reaffirmed his commitment to Native American youth and the importance of honoring one’s roots. Recalling his trip to the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in June, he applauded the tribe’s work on Lakota language revitalization and the powerful stories he heard from the tribe’s young people.

    In his remarks, President Obama thanked the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and their partners for committing to establish an MBK task force for Native American boys and men. NCAI will form the task force in partnership with the Center for Native American Youth, the Native American Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the National Indian Child Welfare Association, the National Indian Education Association, and UNITY Inc. NCAI stated in a press release that the task force will “coordinate and serve as the central point for sharing important work, opportunities, and resources for our youth."

    The President also announced that Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Deloitte CEO Joe Echevarria will launch the National Convening Council (NCC), an independent private-sector initiative bringing together leaders from business, philanthropy and the faith, youth and nonprofit communities to combine their efforts to have a positive impact on boys and young men of color. 

    "My Brother’s Keeper isn't some new, big government program. It's actually a team effort,” said President Obama. “It’s all about a whole bunch of folks -- educators, business leaders, faith leaders, foundations, government -- all working together to give boys and young men of color the tools that they need to succeed and make sure that every young person can reach their potential."

    Raina Thiele is Associate Director in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.

  • Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience Announces Tribal Climate Resilience Program

    Today, at the fourth and final meeting of the White House State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, the Administration announced the new Tribal Climate Resilience Program to help tribes prepare for climate change. 

    As part of this new initiative, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will dedicate $10 million in funding for tribes and tribal organizations to develop tools to enable adaptive resource management, as well as the ability to plan for climate resilience. The program will offer nationwide climate preparedness planning sessions and provide funding for tribal engagement and outreach within regional and national climate communities.

    “Building on the President’s commitment to tribal leaders, the partnership announced today will help tribal nations prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change on their land and natural resources,” said Secretary Jewell.

    The Department of the Interior and Environmental Protection Agency will also partner to create a new subgroup on climate change under the White House Council on Native American Affairs, which will share data and information and coordinate Administration efforts to assist tribes in climate resilience and mitigation efforts.

    “Tribes are at the forefront of many climate issues, so we are excited to work in a more cross-cutting way to help address tribal climate needs,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.  “We’ve heard from tribal leaders loud and clear: when the federal family combines its efforts, we get better results - and nowhere are these results needed more than in the fight against climate change.”

    Task Force members Chairwoman Karen Diver of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Mayor Reggie Joule of the Northwest Arctic Borough were tasked by the President with providing recommendations on climate preparedness and resilience specific to tribes. They led a national effort consisting of listening sessions, conference presentations, and agency webinars, to collect a multitude of tribal input on how to make tribal communities more prepared and resilient in the face of climate change. These recommendations will form the basis for their final recommendations to the Administration.  

    We look forward to continuing our work with Indian Country on this important topic and thank Chairwoman Diver and Mayor Joule for their tireless efforts leading to today’s announcement of this crucial new program.

    Raina Thiele is the Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs. Susan Ruffo is the Associate Director for Climate Preparedness in the Council on Environmental Quality.