Blog Posts Related to the Native American Community

  • Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience Hosts Inaugural Meeting

    State, Local and Tribal Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience

    Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie shares his climate resilience priorities in roundtable discussion with the with members of the President’s State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. (Photo by Office of Intergovernmental Affairs)

    Last week, members of the State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience participated in their inaugural meeting at the White House. President Obama created this Task Force in his Climate Action Plan to advise the Administration on how the Federal government can support communities across the country that are dealing with the impacts of climate change. In 2012 alone, the costs of weather disasters exceeded $110 billion in the United States – including the terrible destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of these kinds of events – as well as the costs and public health impacts associated with them.

    From Alabama to Guam, from Los Angeles to Philadelphia, state, local, and tribal leaders are on the front lines of dealing with extreme weather, sea level rise, and other impacts of climate change. This diverse group of elected officials brought their expertise and experience in building community resilience to our first meeting. Task Force members discussed ways to improve coordination to protect critical infrastructure, public resources, and emphasize pre-disaster preparedness. They also shared ideas about the types of information and tools that would be most useful in confronting the impacts of climate change.

  • 2013 White House Tribal Nations Conference: Promoting Prosperous, Resilient Tribal Nations

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Department of the Interior. See the original post here.

    Yesterday I had the tremendous honor of welcoming leaders invited from all 566 federally recognized tribes to the 2013 White House Tribal Nations Conference. The event included participation from President Obama, thirteen Cabinet members, and dozens of senior Administration officials.

    President Barack Obama greets audience members after remarks during the 2013 Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C

    President Barack Obama greets audience members after remarks during the 2013 Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., Nov. 13, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    The White House Tribal National Conference – the fifth of the Obama Administration – is an opportunity to connect tribal leaders across the country directly with President Obama and his Administration as we work together toward tribal self-determination and self-governance. In his remarks, the President said, “That’s what we’re called to do – to keep strong the covenant between us – for this and future generations.”  

  • President Obama Meets with Tribal Leaders Ahead of the White House Tribal Nations Conference

    Ahead of his remarks at tomorrow’s White House Tribal Nations Conference, President Obama met today with a dozen tribal leaders to discuss job creation and economic development in tribal communities.  Also participating in the meeting were Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz, Director of the National Economic Council Gene Sperling and Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs David Agnew.

    President Barack Obama meets with a group of tribal leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 12, 2013

    President Barack Obama meets with a group of tribal leaders in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Nov. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    This meeting provided tribal leaders an opportunity to directly engage with the President on a leader-to-leader, government-to-government basis and to discuss key issues facing Indian Country at the highest level of Government. During the meeting, tribal leaders in attendance raised a wide range of important issues they are facing related to job creation, including expanding opportunity for renewable energy on tribal lands, increasing access to capital and foreign direct investment opportunities in Indian Country, the successes of tribal self-determination, improving educational outcomes, and jurisdictional challenges.

    The twelve tribal leaders that participated in the meeting were:

    • Bill Anoatubby, Governor, Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma
    • Melanie Benjamin, Chief Executive, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe of Minnesota
    • Leonard Forsman, Chairman, Suquamish Tribe of Washington
    • Joe Garcia, Governor, Ohkay Owingeh of New Mexico
    • Ray Halibritter, Nation Representative and CEO, Oneida Indian Nations of New York
    • Carole Lankford, Vice Chairwoman, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of Montana
    • Rex Lee Jim, Vice President, Navajo Nation of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah
    • Chris McNeil, CEO, Sealaska of Alaska
    • Rosemary Morillo, Chairwoman, Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians of California
    • Terri Parton, President, Wichita and Affiliated Tribes of Oklahoma
    • Terry Rambler, Chairman, San Carlos Apache Tribe of Arizona
    • Robert Shepherd, Chairman, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of South Dakota

    Today's meeting kicked off a week of events hosted by the White House Council on Native American Affairs in its continued efforts to strengthen the government-to-government relationship between the United States and Tribal Nations.  Tomorrow, the President will host tribal leaders invited from all 566 federally recognized tribes at the fifth consecutive White House Tribal Nations Conference, where tribal leaders will engage with the President,  members of his Cabinet and other Senior Administration Officials. The membership of The White House Council on Native American Affairs is also hosting several other meetings and listening sessions to coincide with the Tribal Nations Conference.

    Charlie Galbraith is an Associate Director in the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement. Jodi Gillette is Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs at the White House Domestic Policy Council.

  • President Obama to Host the 2013 White House Tribal Nations Conference

    Tomorrow, President Obama will host representatives invited from 566 American Indian and Alaska Native tribes at the 2013 White House Tribal Nations Conference. This year marks the 5th Conference and reinforces our commitment to a strong government-to-government relationship with Tribal Leadership.

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the White House Tribal Nations Conference (December 5, 2012)

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., Dec. 5, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Earlier this year, the President established the White House Council on Native American Affairs to promote and sustain prosperous and resilient Tribal nations. Chair of this Council, Secretary Jewell of the Department of the Interior, will lead several Cabinet officials in direct discussions with tribal leaders during the Conference.

    You can watch the morning and afternoon sessions of the 2013 White House Tribal Nations Conference by tuning in at www.DOI.gov/live.

    The agenda is as follows:

    Morning Session, 9:00am – 11:30am EST

    • Secretary Sally Jewell, Department of the Interior
    • Secretary Eric Shinseki, Department of Veterans Affairs
    • Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services
    • Secretary Anthony Foxx, Department of Transportation
    • Secretary Ernest Moniz, Department of Energy
    • Attorney General Eric Holder, Department of Justice

    Afternoon Session, 2:00pm – 4:00pm EST

    • Administrator Gina McCarthy, Environmental Protection Agency
    • Secretary Thomas Perez, Department of Labor
    • Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Agriculture

    Listening Session of the White House Council on Native American Affairs:

    • Secretary Sally Jewell, Department of the Interior (Chair and Co-Moderator)
    • Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council (Co-Moderator)
    • Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Agriculture
    • Secretary Thomas Perez, Department of Labor
    • Secretary Shaun Donovan, Department of Housing and Urban Development
    • Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education
    • Acting Secretary Rand Beers, Department of Homeland Security
    • Administrator Gina McCarthy, Environmental Protection Agency
    • Acting Administrator Jeanne Hulit, Small Business Administration
    • Chair Nancy Sutley, Council on Environmental Quality

    President Barack Obama

    Audience members listen as President Obama delivers remarks during the White House Tribal Nations Conference (December 5, 2012)

    Audience members listen as President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., Dec. 5, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    We hope you will join us.

    Charlie Gailbraith is an Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Jodi Gillette is a Senior Policy Advisor for the Domestic Policy Council.

  • Health, Innovation and the Promise of VAWA 2013 in Indian Country

    Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett speaks to Tulalip Leaders about the Implementation of VAWA 2013 in Indian Country

    Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett speaks to Tulalip Court leaders about the implementation of VAWA 2013 in Indian Country. September 5, 2013. (by Charlie Galbraith, Associate Director of Intergovernmental Affairs)

    Yesterday morning, we made our way north from Seattle, past gorgeous waterways, and lush greenery to visit with the Tulalip tribes of western Washington, where we were greeted by Tribal Chairman Mel Sheldon, Vice Chairwoman Deb Parker, and Chief Judge Theresa Pouley.  We saw first-hand, a tribal court system which serves to both honor the traditions of its people and to foster a renewed era of tribal self-determination. 

    The Tulalip Tribes of Washington, like many American Indian tribes, have built a tribal court system that serves the civil needs of their community, holds criminals accountable, and protects the rights of victims and the accused in criminal cases. By engaging the entire spectrum of stakeholders, including judges, the police, public defenders, tribal attorneys, as well as tribal elders, and even offenders in many cases– the system they have put in place is producing impressive results with a unique focus on innovative, restorative, and communal solutions.

    Because of the successful 2013 Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which President Obama signed into law on March 7, 2013, tribal courts and law enforcement will soon be able to exercise the sovereign power to investigate, prosecute, convict, and sentence those who commit acts of domestic violence or dating violence or violate certain protection orders in Indian country, regardless of the defendant’s Indian or non-Indian status. The tribal provisions of this landmark legislation were originally proposed by the Department of Justice in 2011 to address alarming rates of violence against native women.  We believe today, as we did then, that this is not only constitutionally sound law, but it is also a moral prerogative and an essential tool to ensure that non-Indian men who assault Indian women are held accountable for their crimes.

    The 2013 VAWA reauthorization might never have happened without the relentless efforts of native women advocates like Tulalip Tribal Vice Chairwoman Deborah Parker, whose personal courage and dedication to this cause helped carry the day.  The Tulalip Tribe was but one example that helped demonstrate to Congress and many others that there are tribal courts prepared to exercise this important authority that was swept away by the Supreme Court’s 1978 Oliphant ruling.

    This new law generally takes effect on March 7, 2015, but also authorizes a voluntary pilot project to allow certain tribes to begin exercising this authority sooner.

    After a visit to the Tribal Courthouse, we then visited the Tulalip Legacy of Healing Safe House, a domestic violence shelter housed in facilities renovated with federal Recovery Act funds, to provide victims a safe place, and the chance they need to start fresh and rebuild. 

    And finally, it wouldn’t have been an authentic trip to Tulalip lands and the Pacific Northwest without a traditional salmon luncheon.  We joined around 50 tribal members at the Hibulb Cultural Center to learn more about the ancient tribal traditions of the Tulalip people, and of course, to enjoy the region’s most time-honored and delicious delicacy.

    We were reminded this week of how much progress is being made by tribal justice systems across the country.  These efforts are being led by courageous native people like the Tulalip who are dedicated to making the promise of the VAWA 2013 Reauthorization into a reality for generations of Native American women.

    Valerie Jarrett is the Senior Advisor to the President and Tony West is the U.S. Associate Attorney General

     

  • The Affordable Care Act and American Indians and Alaska Natives

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the HHS Blog.

    I get questions all the time from American Indians and Alaska Natives (including my own relatives!) wondering why they should care about the Affordable Care Act since they already are eligible for the Indian Health Service (IHS).  My response is that while the IHS is here to stay and will be available as their healthcare system, the Affordable Care Act brings new options for health coverage.  It is another way that the federal government meets its responsibility to provide health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

    The purpose of the Affordable Care Act is to increase access to quality health coverage for all Americans, including our First Americans.  The benefits of the health care law for American Indians and Alaska Natives are significant whether they have insurance now, want to purchase affordable insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace or take advantage of the States expanding Medicaid starting in 2014.  Indian elders will benefit from a stronger Medicare with more affordable prescriptions and free preventive services no matter what provider they see.  And of course, we're thrilled that the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (IHCIA), our authorizing legislation, was made permanent by the Affordable Care Act. 

    These new benefits mean potentially more services for individuals and the communities we serve.  So we are encouraging every American Indian and Alaska Native to enroll in the Marketplaces starting October 1, 2013 to see what benefits are available to them. 

    To learn more about how the law is benefiting our community visit: http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/facts/factsheets/2011/03/americanindianhealth03212011a.html

    To learn more about the Health Insurance Marketplace visit HealthCare.gov.

    Dr. Yvette Roubideaux is the Acting Director of the Indian Health Service.

  • Healthy Baby, Happy Baby: The Indian Health Service Announces Designation of Two Baby-Friendly Hospitals

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Let's Move! blog.

    The Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is a global program that was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 1991 to encourage and recognize hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. As part of Let’s Move! in Indian Country, the Indian Health Service (IHS) has committed to certifying all IHS hospitals as Baby-Friendly by the end of 2014, and is proud to announce that to date, five of our facilities are now certified as Baby-Friendly.

    Claremore Indian Hospital in Oklahoma and the Phoenix Indian Medical Center in Arizona are the first hospitals in their respective states to receive this prestigious designation. Three other IHS facilities — the Quentin N. Burdick Memorial Health Care Facility, Pine Ridge Hospital, and Rosebud Indian Hospital — received their certification in December 2012 and are the only hospitals in North and South Dakota to be designated as Baby-Friendly.

    Improving health in early childhood is a critical pillar of the Let’s Move! initiative. IHS is working to reduce the risk that children will develop obesity and diabetes in the future by supporting new parents who choose to breastfeed.

    The Indian Health Service (IHS) is the primary federal health care provider for American Indians and Alaska Natives throughout Indian Country. In June 2011, IHS started its Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative to give clinicians the tools and information needed to support mothers who choose to breastfeed, giving those mothers information, confidence, and skills.

    We are committed to making all our obstetric hospitals Baby-Friendly. We are pleased and proud that IHS hospitals are setting the standard for maternity care in so many states. Our work shows how this initiative can succeed in populations that will most benefit from the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative.

    Yvette Roubideaux, M.D., M.P.H., is the Acting Director of Indian Health Service, the Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

  • Strengthening Health Care in Indian Country

    HHS Sebelius Sawmill Headstart with Children

    Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius meets with the children of Sawmill Headstart. (Photo Credit Navajo Nation Press Office)

    I recently had the honor of visiting leaders and members of the Navajo Nation in Arizona. Their hospitality and kindness speak to the best values of the Navajo culture and traditions. And they, like tribes across the country, are critical partners in the Administration’s efforts to promote the health and well-being of all Americans.

    At the Sawmill Head Start Program and local Boys and Girls Club, I saw how local educators are helping prepare young American Indian children to succeed in school and pursue their dreams. On a tour of the Navajo Special Diabetes Program for Indians Wellness Center, I saw dedicated caretakers work to prevent and manage a disease that affects too many on and off the reservations. During a visit to a Tribal elder’s home, I gained a greater understanding of ways we can improve living conditions for all families in the Navajo Nation.

    And I was especially proud of the great effort by the staff of the Gallup Indian Medical Center, who recently achieved a Level III Trauma Center designation – a first for the Indian Health Service (IHS). The work of the IHS at this facility, and throughout Indian Country, saves countless lives. That’s why since day one of this Administration, improving the IHS has been a top priority.

    In fact, we’ve done more to modernize the IHS and advance overall health in Indian Country in President Obama’s first term than has been done in years. We have increased the IHS budget by almost a third, which is helping improve access to needed services.

    HHS Sebelius Sawmill Headstart

    Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius meets members of the Sawmill Headstart Parents Council at the Sawmill Headstart. (Photo Credit Navajo Nation Press Office)

    Another critical step forward is implementing the Affordable Care Act, which contains many important benefits for American Indians and Alaska Natives. First and foremost, it includes the permanent reauthorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, ensuring that the IHS is here to stay. It also improves benefits and protections for American Indians and Alaska Natives who have insurance, whether they receive care inside or outside the IHS. And it gives them more choices for health coverage, including Medicaid and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.