USDA Tribal Relations Advisor Addresses National Tribal Conference with Message of Continued Consultations
Janie Hipp is passionate about her work.
Hipp, a Senior Advisor to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, delivered the keynote address at the National American Indian Housing Council national conference going on in Phoenix, Arizona, this week. She noted that one of the first things that Secretary Vilsack did when he walked in the door was to create an Office of Tribal Relations—a move that impressed the straight-talking Hipp.
“Historically, we have had maybe one person trying to work across 17 agencies scattered in just about every county across the country…and around the globe,” she told the nearly 500 attendees.
The creation of a Tribal Relations Office, staffed out of the Secretary’s budget during a time of budget cutting, shows a genuine commitment by this Secretary and this administration to accelerate the work between the department and the hundreds of tribes with whom it works.
Hipp is a member of the Chickasaw Nation. She told the crowd that the Office is working to increase the number of consultations, create guidebooks for tribes to simplify access to USDA programs, and streamline interdepartmental regulations to make it easier for tribes to work with the diverse array of federal agencies offering services to tribes.
Hipp also encouraged the audience to take advantage of the upcoming meetings being held across all of Indian Country regarding the Keepseagle settlement—a settlement she and the Court called “fair and equitable.” She should know. She holds a J.D., an LL.M. in Agricultural Law, taught at several law schools, worked for the Oklahoma Attorney General, was an Administrative Law Judge for the Cherokee Nation, provided insight on US agriculture in China, Russia, Slovakia, Chile and Turkey, and co-founded the Intertribal Native Women and Youth in Agriculture. According to Hipp, the Keepseagle claims period meetings will be held June through December of this year.
She also noted that there will be tribal consultations beginning in June to get input on how the Agriculture Department might streamline its regulations.
Janie Hipp’s passion for her work is obvious when you hear her speak. It is also effective, as evidenced by the trust so many have put in her. Recently Hipp was given responsibility as head of the Office of Tribal Relations along with the Food and Nutrition Service for USDA’s participation in Let’s Move in Indian Country. A part of the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative, Let’s Move in Indian Country will build on efforts to combat childhood obesity in Indian Country by supporting and leveraging ongoing efforts by a number of Federal agencies, encouraging public/private partnerships and energizing tribal leaders to develop ideas that fit the unique characteristics of their tribes. The goal is to establish or encourage the establishment of 20 tribal food policy councils and committees across Indian Country to enhance comprehensive food policy to improve health.
To read more about USDA’s participation, along with other Federal agencies in Let’s Move! in Indian Country, click here.