Blog Posts Related to the Native American Community
Native American Traditional Cultural Landscapes Action Plan - Better Decisions for Historic PropertiesPosted byon June 28, 2012 at 9:27 AM EDT
An emerging issue for the national historic preservation community has particular relevance to Indian tribes. That issue is: how do we balance the need for alternative energy and other development with the preservation of traditional cultural landscapes and other large-scale historic places?
This challenge is not new to preservation but the scale of alternative energy development, and associated transmission corridors, poses new and considerable challenges to the preservation of traditional cultural landscapes of importance to Indian tribes. In order for federal agencies to make informed decisions, it is critical to involve tribes as early as possible in planning and before project sites are selected.
In 2009, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) initiated discussions with Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations about how to address these issues. Under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (the Section 106 process is overseen by the ACHP) any federal undertaking that may adversely affect a historic property on or eligible for listing on, the National Register of Historic Places must consider how to avoid, minimize, or mitigate adverse effects to historic properties, including cultural landscapes. Unfortunately, these kinds of historic properties have not always been recognized or understood by federal agencies and the preservation community.
- Posted byon June 26, 2012 at 3:53 PM EDT
Ed. Note: This is a cross-post from the USDA blog.
When you woke up this morning, chances are you turned on a light, took a shower in your bathroom, brushed your teeth with running water and checked the Internet. For too many people in Indian Country, this simple daily process is currently unattainable. Services most Americans take for granted are not always available in Indian Country.
Last week, I joined other USDA officials in attending the National Congress of American Indians Convention in Lincoln, Nebraska. I discussed all of the remarkable progress that USDA and Secretary Vilsack have made when it comes to supporting Native Americans, especially those who live on reservations or trust areas.
One substantial achievement, announced earlier this month, will make it much easier for Tribes to gain access to USDA funding for water and sewer improvement projects, electrical system upgrades and telecommunications services including broadband. A new rule, authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, gives the Secretary the authority to clear away hurdles that have blocked Tribes from making necessary improvements to infrastructure. The Rule authorizes loans at interest rates of as little as two percent, gives “Substantially Underserved Trust” areas a higher priority, and empowers Tribal leadership to move forward.
- Posted byon June 22, 2012 at 6:13 PM EDT
Yesterday, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed a Record of Decision approving the lease and associated right of way for a 350-megawatt utility-scale solar energy project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation. This is the first-ever, utility-scale solar project in Indian Country, and joins the 50-megawatt wind farm on the Campo Reservation as the only utility-scale developments on tribal lands.
The solar project builds on President Obama’s strong record of supporting rural economies through the White House Rural Council. Established one year ago, the Rural Council has focused on maximizing the impact of Federal investment to promote economic prosperity and improve the quality of life in rural communities, including on tribal lands.
The project is also a part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above approach to energy and builds on the Administration’s broader efforts to advance renewable energy on America’s public lands. Since 2009, the Department of the Interior has approved 31 onshore renewable energy projects, including: 17 solar projects, 6 wind farms, and 8 geothermal plants. These projects include the first solar projects ever permitted on public lands. When built, these projects together can power nearly 2.5 million homes.
This landmark project is one of the many ways the Administration has sought to strengthen tribal economies through the development of renewable energy resources. The Interior Department has promoted this commitment by establishing a priority project list comprised of renewable energy projects on public lands. The Moapa project is a great beginning, and it is our hope that as Interior prioritizes renewable energy projects for 2013 and beyond, Tribes’ interests and developers interests in building renewable energy projects on tribal lands continues to grow.
In early 2011 the Moapa Band of Paiutes came to the Interior Department with their development partner, K Road Power, to discuss their plans and after initial discussions, BIA recommended that the project be included on the Department’s Priority Project list. Since that initial meeting the project has exemplified what can be achieved when the Federal government, Indian tribes, and private partners work together in pursuit of a common goal. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), through its Western Regional Office, served as the lead agency on the project. Due to its status as the first major solar energy development in Indian Country, the project quickly caught the attention of Secretary Salazar, who often inquired about its progress. Officials within Secretary Salazar’s office and the office of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs participated in weekly calls discussing the project and attended a number of site visits and meetings with the Tribe and K Road. This heightened coordination between the BIA and its federal partners allowed the Department to complete its review within 14 months.
Construction is set to begin in the early fall, and the Moapa Band of Paiutes is already progressing on to their next solar project. The Administration is excited about further renewable energy development in Indian Country and is taking action to help duplicate the success of the K Road Moapa Project by providing tribes the tools they need to address the challenges directly. We have been working on new regulations to streamline the process of leasing tribal lands, which will return greater control over land use decisions to tribes and individual landowners, and promote housing and economic development throughout Indian Country. Within the DOI, the Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development (IEED) awards Energy and Mineral Development Program (EMDP) funding to tribes to help evaluate their energy resource potential.
Collaborating with the Department of Energy's Office of Indian Energy on this project and other projects, interagency efforts are underway to compliment and coordinate tribal energy development. The Department of Energy has been also providing technical assistance to the Moapa Band related to distributed hybrid and renewable energy options for their community and facilities.
This same week, the Department of Energy announced Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) program selections for lower 48 Tribes. The START program is providing tribal communities and Alaska native villages with technical assistance to accelerate clean energy project development, advance energy self-sufficiency, and create jobs. START teams are comprised of experts from DOE and its National Renewable Energy Laboratory. START just recently selected 11 Tribes—five in Alaska and six in the contiguous United States—to receive on-the-ground technical support for community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
The Energy Department also recently launched a tribal energy development resources library providing links to more than 85 vetted publications, websites, and other helpful resources on energy project development and financing in Indian Country. This library can be accessed online at here.
Finally, Energy Department this week announced the appointment of 3 additional tribal members for the DOE Indian Country Energy and Infrastructure Working Group. Established in 2011, this Working Group is comprised of appointed tribal energy leaders from across the Nation to discuss the most pressing issues facing tribal energy development. Working Group members have led the way in strategic interactions with key energy sector players to share best practices and discuss emerging markets and opportunities for innovative public-private partnerships." President Obama is committed to strengthening tribal communities. This Administration will continue to provide tribes with the tools and resources they need to foster energy self-sufficiency, create jobs, and build a sustainable, prosperous future.
For more information on the K Road Moapa Project, click here.
Jodi Gillette is Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs, White House Domestic Policy Council
Del Laverdure is Acting Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs
Tracey A. LeBeau is Director for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs
The First Anniversary of Let's Move! in Indian Country Brings Together Renowned Panelists and the Positive Accomplishments in Indian Country’s Quest for Healthier Living and EatingPosted byon June 8, 2012 at 5:01 PM EDT
Ed. Note: This is a cross-post from the Department of the Interior's Indian Affairs blog.
As the Acting Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs, I have seen up close the wonderful progress that has been made regarding the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative and its specific engagement with Indian Country via Let’s Move! in Indian Country (LMIC).
Recently, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion with White House Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs Jodi Gillette. The panel showcased leaders from across Indian Country who have made significant contributions in addressing the health concerns of our nation. The event on June 1, 2012 commemorated the one-year anniversary of the Let’s Move! in Indian Country launch at the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin and was streamed online from the White House.
- Posted byon June 8, 2012 at 9:00 AM EDT
Building strong, prosperous Native American communities is a priority for President Obama and his Administration. This commitment is reflected by a strong record of accomplishments that arise out of meaningful consultation with Indian Country. In these consultations, tribal leaders have stressed the importance of greater tribal control over the education of Native American students. In response, the Obama Administration has already proposed changes to enhance the role of tribes in the education of their youth and to provide greater flexibility in the use of federal funds to meet the unique needs of Native American students. Also, as demonstrated by President Obama’s Executive Order on Improving American Indian and Alaska Native Educational Opportunities and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities, we continue to work to improve the programs available at tribal colleges so that Native American students are well prepared to compete for the high-skilled, quality jobs of today and tomorrow.
Last week, the Administration announced another step towards preparing the next generation of Native American students for success with the launch of the “State-Tribal Education Partnership” – or STEP – pilot program. The STEP program will award nearly $2 million in competitive grants to tribal education agencies to increase their role in the education of American Indian and Alaska Native students.
- Posted byon May 31, 2012 at 12:14 PM EDT
Tomorrow, June 1, 2012 at 1:30 p.m. EDT, the White House will host a panel discussion of leaders who have contributed to the progress of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! in Indian Country initiative and whose work can be expanded across Indian Country. The discussion will be streamed online at www.WhiteHouse.gov/live. As a key component of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative, Let’s Move! in Indian Country focuses on four pillars that are essential to building a healthy future for American Indian and Alaska Native youth:
- Creating a Healthy start on Life,
- Creating Healthy Learning Communities,
- Fostering Healthy, Comprehensive Food Systems Policies, and
- Increasing Opportunities for Physical Activity
- Posted byon May 25, 2012 at 4:54 PM EDT
Over the past year Let’s Move! in Indian Country has worked with stakeholders across the country to help connect communities, schools and tribal leader to resources, funding, trainings and programs that will help improve the health of the next generation. As a key component of the First Lady’s comprehensive initiative Let’s Move!, the Let’s Move! in Indian Country program focuses on the unique hurdles that American Indian and Alaska Native youth must overcome to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In the first year, we have seen considerable progress and the First Lady and the Administration remain committed to building towards the ultimate goal of ending the epidemic of childhood obesity in Indian Country within a generation.
In order to recognize this progress and the great work of leaders across Indian Country, the White House will host a panel discussion of individuals whose work has helped build a healthier future American Indian and Alaska Native youth in one or more of the four pillars of Let’s Move! in Indian Country:
- Posted byon May 14, 2012 at 12:20 PM EDT
Last week, the House Judiciary Committee considered legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). However, the bill that came out of the House Judiciary Committee failed to include a key provision which has already been accepted by the Senate on a bipartisan basis and is essential to protecting Native American women.
Since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been an essential tool in helping to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence. Since the passage of the Act, annual incidents of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent. Over the years, Congress has continued its commitment to addressing violence against women by working with advocates, law enforcement officials, court systems, and victims in order to build on what we have learned and make improvements to the Act in each subsequent reauthorization. This was recently demonstrated by the Senate’s VAWA reauthorization bill (S. 1925), introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) which passed last month with strong bipartisan support.
The Leahy-Crapo VAWA reauthorization bill addresses many pressing issues facing all victims of domestic violence, including those in Indian Country. Rates of domestic violence against Native women in Indian Country are now among the highest in the United States and the Leahy-Crapo bill directly confronts this epidemic.