Blog Posts Related to the Native American Community
- Posted byon February 9, 2012 at 12:15 PM EDT
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.
- Posted byon February 7, 2012 at 2:18 PM EDT
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.
- Posted byon January 25, 2012 at 6:14 PM EDT
In yesterday’s State of the Union address, the President 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. The President has been clear that we need to do more to create jobs and help economic growth. But under his leadership and thanks to action taken by the President, the economy is growing again. The economy has added a total of nearly 3.2 million private sector jobs over the last 22 months.
Last night, the President outlined a series of ideas to build an economy that works for everyone, one that will bring about a new era of American manufacturing, and promote homegrown and alternative energy sources. The President’s Blueprint for an America Built to Last includes the following initiatives that will benefit Indian Country:
- Prevent tax increases for Native American families by extending the payroll tax cut: The President challenged Congress to strengthen the economic recovery by extending the payroll tax cut for the rest of the year so that taxes don’t go up on American workers. About 1.5 million Native American workers – throughout urban, rural, reservation and village communities – will benefit from the extension and expansion of the payroll tax cut, giving them and their families more money to keep our local economies strong at this critical time. Today, one of the most important ways we can continue to support economic growth in Indian Country is through the extension of the payroll tax cut.
- Forge new partnerships between community colleges – including tribal colleges – and businesses to train and place 2 million skilled workers: Many industries have difficulty filling jobs requiring specific technical skills, even with many Americans still looking for work. In coming years, America will need to fill millions of mid- and high-level skilled positions in industries from healthcare to advanced manufacturing, clean energy to information technology. The President proposed a new initiative to train and place two million Americans in good jobs through partnerships between businesses and community colleges that give workers the skills employers explicitly need. The program is modeled on efforts by employers and community colleges from Charlotte and Chicago to Orlando and Louisville. To address future workforce needs, the President will support partnerships between high schools and industry to create more career academies, which combine instruction in academic subjects and industry skills.
- Help start-ups and small businesses in Indian Country succeed and create jobs by reforming regulations and expanding tax relief: Start-ups and small businesses create most of the new net jobs in this country. The President is proposing to build on measures he has already taken to enact 17 small business tax cuts through additional tax relief to start-ups and small businesses that are creating jobs and increasing wages and by calling for further measures to expand access to capital for small businesses by simplifying and streamlining regulations.
- Posted byon January 23, 2012 at 9:03 PM EDT
This is cross-posted from The Justice Blog:
Last week, the Justice Department announced the posting of the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS), a comprehensive grant solicitation to support improvements to public safety, victim services and crime prevention in American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
More than $101.4 million is available through the 2012 CTAS. This year, funding can be used to conduct comprehensive planning, enhance law enforcement, bolster justice systems, support and enhance tribal efforts to prevent and control juvenile delinquency and strengthen the juvenile justice system, prevent youth substance abuse, serve victims of crimes like domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as support other crime-fighting efforts.
CTAS is a critical part of the Justice Department’s ongoing initiative to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities. This is the third year for CTAS, which provides tribal governments and tribal consortia with a single application to reach all of the department’s grant-making components, including the Office of Justice Programs, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and the Office on Violence Against Women. It allows these grant-making components to assess the totality of the public safety needs of each tribe or tribal consortia. The FY 2012 CTAS reflects improvements developed as a result of tribal consultations, listening sessions, and other feedback.
- Posted byon January 5, 2012 at 3:21 PM EDT
Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Open for Business, the blog of the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration yesterday launched a new online tool that helps Native American entrepreneurs prepare for business ownership. The Native American Small Business Primer: Strategies for Success is a free online business course developed for Native American entrepreneurs that gives an overview of basic business principles and of the SBA’s programs and services that help business owners get started.
The new primer is an important tool for American Indians, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian business owners that can lend in our nation’s overall economic health through business ownership and creating new jobs. Our ultimate goal is to help spur job creation and to stimulate economic and business development in our Native American communities.
The new course is the ideal business development tool for the entrepreneur’s toolbox that emphasizes business planning and market research as essential steps to take before going into business. The course gives useful first steps to take, and includes a section on how to estimate business start-up costs that help assess the financial needs of starting a business.
SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs works to ensure that American Indian, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiian communities have full access to all SBA programs and services. Each year, more than 200,000 American Indian and Alaska Native and 29,000 Native Hawaiian-owned businesses add billions to the American economy. We stand at the ready to help even more Native American entrepreneurs with business ownership.
- Posted byon December 7, 2011 at 11:08 AM EDT
As demonstrated time and time again through many disasters across America, emergency management requires a team effort. Our country's tribal nations and leaders are an essential part of the team. The Obama administration has long been committed to supporting Indian Country in efforts to build resilient communities, prepared for all hazards.
Last week, on behalf of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the administration, I met with tribal leaders as a participant in the 2011 Tribal Nations Conference hosted by the White House. The goal of this multi-day event was to continue an honest, meaningful discussion between tribal leadership, the administration and federal agencies, to listen, learn and explore how we can continue to strengthen our government-to-government relationship.
During these conversations, I had the opportunity to announce -- consistent with our strong government-to-government relationship and after a lengthy review process -- that the administration supports amending the Stafford Act to allow federally recognized tribal governments to make a request directly to the president for a federal emergency or disaster declaration. Under current law, only states, through the governor, can make such requests.
Amending this legislation will acknowledge the sovereignty of federally recognized tribes and the trust responsibility of the United States, enhance FEMA's working relationship with tribal governments, and improve emergency responsiveness throughout Indian Country.
Craig Fugate is the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
- Posted byon December 5, 2011 at 6:46 PM EDT
On December 2, 2011, following the 2011 White House Tribal Nations Conference, President Obama met with a small and regionally diverse group of tribal leaders from across Indian Country. Also participating in the meeting were Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli.
The tribal leaders in attendance had the opportunity to directly engage with the President on a leader-to-leader, government-to-government basis. They spoke about economic issues affecting their reservations and proposed some innovative solutions for developing sustainable economies focusing on building solar and wind projects, reducing regulatory burdens, expanding broadband and leveraging private sector investment, among others. Also discussed was the Executive Order on Improving American Indian and Alaska Native Educational Opportunities and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities, which the President signed earlier in the day to improve education opportunities for Native American youth across the country.
The twelve tribal leaders that participated in the meeting were Fawn Sharpe, President, Quinault Indian Nation; Diane Enos, President, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community; Steve Ortiz, Chairman, Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation; Jefferson Keel, Lt. Governor, Chickasaw Nation; Nelson Cordova, Governor, Pueblo of Taos; George Edwardson, President, Inupiat Community of Arctic Slope; Ben Shelly, President, Navajo Nation; Richard Milanovich, Chairman, Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians; Colley Billie, Chairman, Miccosukee Indian Tribe; Tracy “Ching” King, President, Fort Belknap Indian Community; Rodney Bordeaux, President, Rosebud Sioux Tribe; and Erma Vizenor, Chairwoman, White Earth Band of Chippewa.
This meeting took place after a week of White House events that focused on strengthening the government-to-government relationship between the United States and Tribal Nations and building on the progress made during the 2009 and 2010 White House Tribal Nations Conferences. In addition to the President’s meeting, the White House hosted a series of Regional briefings and listening sessions for tribal leaders, highlighted 11 Native American youth as Champions of Change, released a White House Tribal Nations Conference Progress Report and at the Tribal Nations Conference the President spoke to representatives from the 565 federally recognized Indian tribes.
Obama Administration Investment Promotes Job Growth and Mitigates Environmental Risk in Tribal CommunitiesPosted byon December 5, 2011 at 12:57 PM EDT
This year, President Obama hosted the third White House Tribal Nations Conference to hear directly from tribal leaders about their priorities. I had the opportunity to address some of the representatives of federally recognized tribes during a series of briefings and listening sessions hosted by the White House.
The President is committed to strengthening the government-to-government relationship with Indian Country and partnering and investing to find solutions to complex issues and to win the future for Indian Country.
Environmental challenges are affecting tribal economies. The Obama Administration has taken significant steps to mitigate environmental risks and strengthen the capacity of reservations to meet the training and economic needs of their communities.
Native Americans living on reservations experience higher incidences of environmentally-related health issues than other groups, including in the upper Missouri River basin. This includes 19 reservations in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota, along the Missouri River system and its tributaries where minerals and wildlife are abundant both in water and on land. Unfortunately, as concerns about the environment have plagued these communities, the response has not been timely or meaningful. These are areas of the country where the norm is economic depression and generational unemployment. In some cases unemployment rates approach 90 percent. The impacts of environmental degradation have contributed to stagnant business growth in these rural communities and severely limited opportunities for workers.
One major problem is the lack of qualified technicians to tackle these environmental issues. According to data from the 2005 Bureau of Indian Affairs Labor Report, approximately 240,000 residents inhabit these tribal areas but only about 140,000 of them are available for the workforce.
Recently, a $1.6 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge award was presented to United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, North Dakota, for the Upper Missouri Tribal Environmental Risk Mitigation (UM‐TERM) cluster to help accelerate jobs and business development in natural resources and reduce unemployment in economically distressed tribal areas. The cluster leverages existing resources of Tribal Colleges, the Native American Business Enterprise Center funded by Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), and tribal Planners. The project is expected to provide training and education for 1,045 participants, creating a sustainable network of approximately 120 regional environmental technicians, and 15 new minority‐owned businesses.