As we mark the beginning of National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month I would like to make a request of everyone reading this blog: Take time today to learn more about the culture and history of the first people of this country. There will be events across the Nation, including here in Washington. I hope you’ll take the time to attend one.
USDA’s Offices of Tribal Relations (OTR), which I am honored to be part of, along with the Office of Human Resources and the Director of Diversity and Recruitment, and NRCS will host an event at the Agriculture Department’s South Building on November 9. The featured speaker will be Billy Mills, the second American Indian ever to win an Olympic gold medal. Other USDA events are being planned as well and I will provide details in a future blog. Also, agencies including the Indian Health Service, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian are also planning events.
Also happening during National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month is a series of regional Tribal consultation events USDA is hosting intended to consult with members of Tribes on a government-to-government basis. At each of the consultation events, senior USDA officials will provide attendees with an overview of their programs and participate in discussions with tribal leaders. It’s part of our effort to reach out to Tribes as directed by President Obama and Secretary Vilsack.
Six USDA agencies are conducting consultation meetings on a variety of 2008 Farm Bill rules and emerging rules. The first meeting was held late last month in Rapid City, South Dakota. Other meetings are planned in November and December in Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Seattle, Nashville, Albuquerque and in Anchorage, Alaska. These meetings are important in carrying out the federal responsibility to the first people of this country. To learn more about USDA’s OTR click here.