Blog Posts Related to the Native American Community

  • Secretary Bryson Delivers Remarks at National Congress of American Indians

    Editor's note: This post originally appeared on The Commerce Blog.

    Today, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks at 2012 Executive Council Winter Session of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest and largest national representative of Tribal Nations in the United States. Bryson spoke about Commerce Department initiatives to promote exports, job creation and infrastructure in Indian Country.

  • Eliminating Barriers to Economic Growth in Indian Country

    Last year, around this time, the President instructed agencies to work closely with State, local, and tribal governments to identify any Federal barriers that prevent efficient use of taxpayer dollars to achieve the best results.

    On Friday, we released a report highlighting examples of where these new partnerships are leading to real benefits for state, local, and tribal governments. Among other areas, the report focuses on actions to create opportunity for economic growth in Indian Country. The Obama Administration has partnered with tribal leaders and taken decisive action to support infrastructure and workforce development to drive economic growth. These actions include expanding access to broadband under the Recovery Act; providing Federal loan guarantees; investing millions of dollars in businesses in Indian Country; building the capacity of Native Community Development Financial Institutions; implementing an Executive Order to Expand Educational Opportunities and Improve Educational Outcomes for American Indian and Alaska Native Students; and supporting the Small Business Administration's 8(a) Business Development Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives, which channels contracts through tribal corporations to qualified businesses to help them gain greater access to Federal and private procurement markets.

    These actions are spurring entrepreneurship in Indian Country by increasing business infrastructure such as broadband, making resources such as business loans more accessible, and improving community and economic development. Moreover, they are helping prepare Native American youth to compete for the high-skilled, good jobs of tomorrow by investing in tribal colleges and universities and improving educational outcomes.

  • Strengthening Support to Minority-Owned Firms

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from The Commerce Blog

    Supporting the growth and global competitiveness of minority-owned businesses is a priority for the Department of Commerce and the Obama administration.

    And we’re making good on that priority. Last year, the Department’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) registered the best annual performance in its 41-year history. It assisted minority-owned businesses in gaining access to nearly $4 billion in contracts and capital, supporting the creation of nearly 6,000 much-needed jobs. Over the last three years, our network of 39 MBDA Business Centers, has been largely responsible for generating $10 billion in contracts and capital while helping to create and save nearly 20,000 jobs.

    Today, the challenge for MBDA–like so many organizations across the federal government–is to figure out how we build on that record while becoming more efficient. A number of bureaus right here within the Commerce Department are facing a similar challenge, which has led, for example, to consolidating or otherwise cutting several programs in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), restructuring some units within International Trade Administration (ITA) and shifting the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) emphasis to regional innovation strategies. So how do we meet the President’s mandate to improve services to minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs in an increasingly difficult budget environment?

    The answer for our Bureau started with looking at the grassroots where MBDA interacts on a daily basis with minority business owners. Our front lines are our 39 MBDA Business Centers and related business development support services. Our plan is to strengthen connections at that level to enhance services and get more for your tax dollar.The centers, operated by local entities, are funded in part by grants from MBDA.  The average grant is less than $300,000 and had not experienced an increase in funding in over 15 years. . . until recently.  Last year, when we launched a new round of competitions, MBDA was able to increase the size of the grants and extend awards from three years to five years. As a result of earlier streamlining efforts, MBDA was also able to expand its presence to establish new centers in Denver, Cleveland, Boston, Minneapolis and Anchorage in fiscal year 2011.

  • From the Cradle to the Career: Improving Education for American Indians and Alaska Natives

    American Indian & Alaska Native Education Roundtable

    Tribal and US Government representatives take part in a discussion on American Indian and Alaska Native education, February 16, 2012. (Photo by Yvonne Davis, Bureau of Indian Education - Department of Education)

    On December 2, 2011, at the third White House Tribal Nations Conference, President Obama announced his Executive Order on Improving American Indian and Alaska Native Educational Opportunities and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities.  Last week, I had the privilege of joining the Department of Education and the Department of Interior at a roundtable on the Squaxin Island Reservation in Shelton, Washington which concluded a series of regional Tribal Leader Education Roundtables that will help guide the implementation of the Executive Order.

  • Building a Fair and Stable Economy for Indian Country

    In his State of the Union address, President Obama laid out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last – an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values. Today, the President released a budget that illustrates how we put that blueprint to work.

    The President has been clear that we need to do more to create jobs and help economic growth. While the current economic crisis has challenged all Americans, we know this to be especially true for Indian Country where some reservations face unemployment rates of up to 80 percent. Though the economic challenges of Indian Country are significant, President Obama is committed to building strong, prosperous Native American economies.

  • SBA Continues to Help Strengthen Small Businesses in Indian Country

    This post originally appeared on the Small Business Administration's blog

    Recently, SBA kicked off the 2012 Emerging Leaders (known as the e200) executive-level training initiative for small business owners in 27 cities, including 10 Native American communities.

    The e200 is an intensive training program for small companies that have the potential for quick growth and job creation. I’m excited that e200 continues to reach our Native small business communities with training, mentorship and resources to help them take their businesses to the next level. Native American small businesses are an important part of creating a blueprint for an economy built to last.

  • Celebrating the Two Year Anniversary of Let’s Move! and work in Indian Country

    Let's Move Indian Country Garden Planting

    First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Garden Harvest Event with children and members of the American Indian community, in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House, June 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    Today, First Lady Michelle Obama is hitting the road to kick off a three day, nation-wide tour celebrating the second anniversary of Let’s Move! Since launching Let’s Move! on February 9, 2010, significant progress has been made to solve the problem of childhood obesity.  

    Over the past three decades, rates of childhood obesity in this country have tripled.  Today, nearly one in every three children in the U.S. are overweight or obese.  An integral part of the Let’s Move! initiative includes addressing the needs of populations where childhood obesity rates are particularly high, including American Indian and Alaska Native communities, who experience obesity and other related diseases atdisproportionately high rates and are twice as likely as the general population to be overweight.  In May 2011, First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move! in Indian Country (LMIC)bringing together federal agencies, local communities, nonprofits, corporate partners, and tribes to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in Indian Country within a generation by creating a healthy start on life for children; ensuring families access to healthy, affordable, traditional foods; and increasing opportunities for physical activity.

    The First Lady’s Let’s Move! tour will highlight examples of people making changes across the country.  In Indian Country, parents, businesses, educators, elected officials, members of the military, chefs, physicians, athletes, childcare providers, schools, community and faith leaders and youth themselves have made substantial commitments to improve the health of our nation’s children.  For example, Dallas Duplessis is a youth advocate for healthier eating and started a gardening club on her reservation in Tulalip, Washington.  After witnessing the effects of unhealthy eating habits, Dallas and her family got involved with the Hilbulb Cultural Center program “Growing Together as Families,” which teaches families healthy eating habits.  Dallas then started the Tulalip Youth Gardeners Club to inspire other kids to garden together with their families.  President Obama recognized Dallas’ leadership as a White House Champion of Change in his remarks at the White House Tribal Nations Conference in December, noting that the First Lady would appreciate the goal of the club, which, in Dallas’ words, is “not to be couch potatoes, but to grow some potatoes.”

    Dallas is just one of the many “champions” of the Let’s Move! initiative in Indian Country. 

    LMIC has worked with many stakeholders in Indian Country to create a comprehensive toolkit to connect communities, schools and tribal leaders to resources, funding, trainings and programs that will help improve the health of the next generation.  The LMIC interagency partners have also worked towards four specific goals, informed by the work of the Childhood Obesity Task Force and the feedback received through meetings with tribal leaders and organizations.  These goals include:

    • Creating a Healthy Start on Life:  The Indian Health Service (IHS) launched the Baby-Friendly Hospital campaign to promote breast-feeding in IHS facilities and has committed to achieving baby friendly certification for all of their 14 federally-run obstetrics units.
    • Creating Healthy Learning Communities:  The USDA Food and Nutrition Services delivered six trainings to Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools in 2011, to provide information on how schools can participate in the Healthier U.S. School Challenge – Fuel Up to Play 60, obtain funding for infrastructure development, and access programs and resources to serve healthier meals and snacks year-round to school age children.  Because of the President’s commitment to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which reauthorized the Child Nutrition Act, the BIE began the process of updating agency standards to create a healthier school environment through a Bureau-wide Health and Wellness Policy for schools that will be implemented throughout the BIE school system this year.
    • Fostering Healthy, Comprehensive Food Systems Policies:  USDA has worked to develop over twenty Food Policy Councils (FPC) across Indian Country to improve food production opportunities and access to healthy, affordable, and traditional foods.
    • Increasing Opportunities for Physical Activity:  Last year the BIE launched the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA) Challenge in Indian Country with the help of the Chicago Bears’ and Nike N7 athlete Levi Horn.  Many of the BIE schools have made this challenge their own by incorporating culturally relevant and traditional activities.  With the help of partners like Coach-Across-America (CAA), Just Move It, and many others, LMIC is bringing coaches and Physical Education programming to communities previously lacking access to these opportunities. 

  • Implementing a New Era in our Government to Government Relationship

    In an important step toward addressing a problem that has affected generations of American Indian people, last week the Department of the Interior released the Obama Administration’s draft plan for implementing the Cobell Land Consolidation Program.  The program is a major component of the Cobell settlement agreement which was signed into law by President Obama as part of the Claims Resolution Act of 2010.  The land consolidation program will facilitate the voluntary buy-back of fractionated trust and restricted fee land interests owned by individual American Indians, thereby consolidating fractionated lands for the benefit of tribal communities.  The Cobell settlement establishes a $1.9 billion fund to implement the program.