Last month, representatives of several federal agencies held a meeting with the federally recognized tribes in Southeast Alaska. The meeting, in Alaska’s capital city of Juneau, was the fifth in a series of government-to-government Tribal Collaboration Meetings scheduled with tribes in Alaska. The venue for the meeting between federal officials and tribal leaders was the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Vocational Training and Resource Center.
Tribal representatives and other partners from the region used the session to discuss issues affecting their villages. Leaders from USDA Rural Development, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, Small Business Administration, Housing and Urban Development, the Economic Development Administration (EDA), and Intertribal Agriculture Council were on hand to listen and participate in the dialogue.
Edward Thomas, President of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, began the daylong session welcoming all visitors. A healthy discussion ensued, with local economic development and subsistence as primary topics of conversation. When asked about his impression regarding the meeting, President Thomas responded by saying, “The meeting was really good. It was great to see various agencies in attendance and not just USDA. Tribal leaders really need to get involved in opportunities with USDA, specifically Rural Development, and start taking advantage of those programs.”
Among the other items of discussion were: adequate and affordable housing; food production and availability; natural resource management, food inspection, and the cost of energy. Also discussed in greater detail were programs surrounding community gardens, food production economic opportunities, and shellfish farming.
More Tribal Collaboration Meetings will be scheduled throughout the year. On-going meeting information and meeting schedules can be followed at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/AKTribalBlog.html.