Blog Posts Related to the Native American Community

  • 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. 

  • AmeriCorps Expands Presence in Tribal Communities

    During his June visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in Cannonball, North Dakota, the President re-emphasized the Administration’s focus on strengthening Native American communities through education and economic development. Thus, as part of the Obama administration’s commitment to create lasting change in Indian Country, we are pleased to announce $3 million in AmeriCorps grants to support Native American communities. 

    These funds will bolster President Obama’s priorities for tribal communities and increase the number of AmeriCorps members serving these communities by 41 percent. AmeriCorps members serving in these programs – most of whom will be recruited from Indian Country – will be eligible to earn $1 million in education scholarships to help pay for college or repay their student loans -- putting them on track for greater economic opportunity in the future.

    Through these 17 tribal grants – the highest number approved in the past decade – the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) will support more than 250 AmeriCorps members serving with tribal organizations in 13 states. AmeriCorps members will serve side-by-side with tribal elders and local leaders. They will work to tackle key issues facing Native American communities:

  • The President and First Lady's Historic Visit to Indian Country

    President Barack Obama Attends the Cannon Ball Flag Day Powwow in Cannon Ball, North Dakota

    President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attended the Cannon Ball Flag Day Powwow in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on June 13, 2014. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    On Friday, June 13, President Obama made a historic trip to Indian Country when he traveled to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in Cannonball, North Dakota. This trip marked his first visit to Indian Country since taking office, and one of the few trips to an Indian reservation by a sitting President. Accompanied by the First Lady, the President met with Native American youth, tribal leaders, and attended the tribe’s annual Flag Day celebration where he spoke to Indian Country.  

    The President first announced his plans to visit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on June 5 in an Indian Country Today op-ed that described his goals for strengthening economic development and educational achievement in Indian Country.

    Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have worked closely with tribal leaders, and last year he created the White House Council on Native American Affairs to ensure cross-agency coordination and engagement with Indian Country. The President has also hosted five annual White House Tribal Nations Conferences, an event where he invites leaders from all federally recognized tribes to engage in direct talks with high-level Administration officials.

    As the President said in North Dakota, “Today, honoring the nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country isn’t the exception; it’s the rule. And we have a lot to show for it.”

  • An Update on the President’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative

    President Barack Obama meets with foundation and business leaders to discuss "My Brother's Keeper," an initiative to expand opportunity for young men and boys of color

    President Barack Obama meets with foundation and business leaders to discuss "My Brother's Keeper," an initiative to expand opportunity for young men and boys of color, in the State Dining Room of the White House, Feb. 27, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    “My administration’s policiesfrom early childhood education to job training, to minimum wagesare designed to give a hand up to everybody, every child, every American willing to work hard and take responsibility for their own success. That's the larger agenda. 

    But the plain fact is there are some Americans who, in the aggregate, are consistently doing worse in our societygroups that have had the odds stacked against them in unique ways that require unique solutions; groups who’ve seen fewer opportunities that have spanned generations. And by almost every measure, the group that is facing some of the most severe challenges in the 21st century in this country are boys and young men of color.”

    President Obama used these words to launch My Brother’s Keeper, his initiative to help ensure that boys and young men of color in America have the opportunity to reach their full potential. 

    Since then, the public response has been overwhelming. We’ve heard from private philanthropies and businesses, mayors, state and local leaders, faith organizations, community based non-profits, and thousands of  interested citizens, all who are committed to creating more pathways to success for these boys and young men. We will continue to engage and listen to these critical voices and those of the boys and young men this initiative focuses on, as we continue to learn from the efforts of the many stakeholders who have been committed to this cause for years. And we will do our best to live up to the optimism and incredible expectations this initiative has unleashed. 

  • USDA Continues Reaching Indian Country Through the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
    Finding groceries can be difficult in many inner city neighborhoods, and in many rural areas the challenge can be even more daunting. Americans living in remote areas might easily spend half a day just making a grocery run. And for many Native Americans living on Indian reservations, simply getting to a place to purchase nutritious foods becomes a constant struggle.
    Food security is a top priority for Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Expanding access to nutritious food will not only empower American families to serve healthy meals to their children, but it will also help expand the demand for agricultural products.”
    One program expanding access to nutritious foods is the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR). FDPIR was first authorized under the Food Stamp Act of 1977 to provide access to nutritious foods to low-income Native American households. FDPIR is administered locally by either Indian tribal organizations (ITOs) or an agency of a state government. Currently, there are about 276 tribes receiving benefits under FDPIR, with an average of 82,600 participants each month.
    Because FDPIR is administered directly on Indian reservations, it can eliminate the need for recipients to travel great distances simply to acquire nutritious foods. Eligible participants are able to choose from over 70 food options that can be used to create meals that align with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate. In Fiscal Year 2009, the Healthy Eating Index (HEI), which rates diets based on overall nutrition, rated the FDPIR food option package at 85.3 (an HEI score above an 80 is considered a healthy diet).
    To assist in the preparation of healthy meals using FDPIR foods, FNS recently worked with tribal members to create a recipe book. “A Harvest of Recipes with USDA Foods: The Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR)” provides creative, regional recipes using FDPIR food options. Each recipe features sensible levels of fat, sodium, and sugar without sacrificing taste. The recipes also list nutrition facts.
    The FDPIR has made great strides in providing access to nutritious foods and reducing food insecurity on Indian reservations. For more information on FDPIR, visit
    Leslie Wheelock is the Director of Tribal Relations at the U.S. Department of Agriculture

  • Sun Rises on Tribal Energy Future in Nevada

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the U.S. Department of Energy
    Last Friday was a momentous day for the Moapa Band of Paiute in Nevada. Joined by executives of First Solar, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and numerous dignitaries, including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, tribal leaders and community members broke ground on the 250-megawatt Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project on the Moapa Indian Reservation  making it the first utility-scale solar project on tribal land.
    Set to be fully operational by the end of 2015, the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar project will deliver clean, renewable energy to the City of Los Angeles for 25 years, providing enough energy for more than 93,000 homes. This amount of renewable energy will displace approximately 313,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually  the equivalent of taking about 60,000 cars off the road.
    The solar project won’t just benefit the environment. It is also having a big effect on the Moapa tribe. The project is expected to create 400 construction jobs, many of which are already being filled by qualified tribal members. Other members of the tribe are taking advantage of the project’s training opportunities to contribute to the clean energy economy.
    It has been a long journey for Moapa’s elected and community leaders  one that I witnessed firsthand  as they found a way to balance the promise of a clean energy future and the community’s pressing energy needs.
    Moapa tribal leaders were one of the first to meet with us after the Energy Department’s Office of Indian Energy was established. With a clear vision in mind, the Tribe’s leadership requested technical assistance on this utility-scale project as well as smaller-scale solar projects that could offset the tribe’s high energy costs.
    In addition to the Moapa Southern Paiute Solar Project, we also worked with the Moapa tribal government and the Department of Agriculture on an on-site, off-grid solar project that will provide all the energy needed to power the Tribe’s travel plaza. It has been a collaborative and rewarding effort for both the community and Energy Department, who share a common goal of supporting tribal efforts that show potential for fulfilling the real promise of clean energy development in Indian Country.
    At the groundbreaking, Moapa Chairwoman Aletha Tom eloquently phrased the challenge the tribe faced as they create economic opportunities while preserving the Moapa land and cultural heritage. “This is an important step in becoming a leader in Indian Country and will help to create a model for other tribes to follow. If our small tribe can accomplish this, then others can also. There are endless opportunities in renewable energy, and tribes across the nation have the available land on which to build them.”

    Tracey A. LeBeau is the Director of the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs at the U.S. Department of Energy

  • National Tribal Day of Action To #GetCoveredNow

    Today is the National Tribal Day of Action for Affordable Care Act Enrollment. Over 65 events are being hosted in tribal communities across the nation and President Obama wants to ensure that every American Indian and Alaska Native has the information they need to take advantage of new health care options available under the health care law. 

    The new health care law is another way the federal government is honoring its trust responsibility and obligations to Tribes. Ensuring that additional health care options are available for all Native Americans is simply another step in our ongoing efforts to promote well-being and economic prosperity in Indian Country. 

    Many Native Americans currently use an Indian Health Service (IHS) or tribal health facility and that is not changing. But private health insurance offers new protections. Taking advantage of the new health insurance options provided by the Affordable Care Act can give American Indian and Alaska Native families the peace of mind of knowing they have comprehensive health insurance, even outside of the IHS system. 

    Many American Indians and Alaska Natives who have signed up for health insurance coverage report that they were surprised at just how affordable it can be to get covered. Many are eligible for assistance to lower or even eliminate their monthly insurance premiums. And, if you’re a member of a federally recognized Tribe and you choose to buy a private health insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you may not have to pay any out-of-pocket costs like co-pays or deductibles. Many American Indian and Alaska Native families are also finding that they are now eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  Overall, this can add up to more reliable and more comprehensive health care at little to no cost.

    Today, you can visit a tribal health care enrollment event from Oklahoma to Alaska. Step into the Alaska Native Medical Center for an event hosted by the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium or visit Rapid City Regional Hospital where the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Health Board staff can walk you through the enrollment process. Across the country tribal communities and urban Indian organizations are partnering to help American Indians and Alaska Natives get covered.

    But you need to act to ensure that you and your family fully benefit from the new health care law.  Every American Indian and Alaska Native should learn more about how the Affordable Care Act can benefit them as soon as possible. The best way to review your options is to go to  You can also visit your local IHS or tribal clinic, or you can call 1-800-318-2596.  

    David Agnew is the White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs

  • Join us on March 24th for a "Tribal Day of Action" for Affordable Care Act Enrollment

    Last week, Vice President Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Sebelius spoke directly to tribal leaders and community members on the benefits of the Affordable Care Act for American Indians and Alaska Natives. The Vice President and the Secretary encouraged action from tribal leaders and community members, to get them, their friends, and their relatives enrolled! March 24th is the National Tribal Day of Action on Affordable Care Act enrollment - a perfect opportunity for Indian Country to rally with community partners in health to organize an Affordable Care Act enrollment event. Please join us in this effort to get covered with quality, reliable, and affordable health care insurance before March 31st

    If you’re a member of a federally-recognized tribe and under a certain income level, you might qualify to pay reduced or no costs for a private health care policy, including low or zero out-of-pocket costs. Also, you can check to see if your state has expanded Medicaid, as you might now qualify!

    You can enroll in a healthcare plan on the healthcare marketplace at, over the phone, or by mail. And remember, even if you have a private health insurance plan, you can continue to use Indian Health Service or you can explore other options for care. Having a private health insurance plan is a way to ensure that you will receive quality, reliable health care coverage no matter when you get sick. Tell your family and friends to enroll today!

    For more information on how the Affordable Care Act impacts Indian Country, go to:

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