Last week it was my privilege to attend the annual United Tribes Tribal Leaders Summit and associated conferences in Bismarck, North Dakota. This annual gathering is an opportunity for tribal leaders from around the region to exchange information about current issues in Indian Country.
While there, I discussed the importance of the recently-appointed Council for Native American Farming and Ranching. The Council was selected by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to suggest changes to USDA regulations and to provide internal guidance or propose measures that would promote the participation of American Indian farmers and ranchers in USDA programs and support government-to-government relations between USDA and tribal governments. The Council is a discretionary advisory committee established in furtherance of Keepseagle v. Vilsack, which was a lawsuit alleging past discrimination by USDA against Native American farmers and ranchers in the way it operated its farm loan program.
I also met with Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Charles Murphy and shared that USDA will fund a water quality project to rehabilitate and expand a failing sewage treatment system serving members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Read more »
Natural Resources/Range Manager of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in Blackfoot, ID., Mark Wadsworth, speaking, was voted Chairman of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Council for Native American Farming and Ranching (CNAFR) held at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012. CNAFR was created to advise the Secretary on ways to eliminate barriers to participation for Native American Farmers and Ranchers in USDA programs. The Council was established as part of the Keepseagle settlement, and is conducted under the oversight of USDA's Office of Tribal Relations under the Office of the Secretary of Agriculture. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
An intensive two day public meeting wrapped up earlier this week in Washington, D.C., as the recently appointed members of the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching met face-to-face for the first time. Read more »
Rebecca Blue, Acting Deputy Undersecretary for MRP; Janie Hip, Senior Advisor to the Secretary on Tribal Affairs; and Kisha Davis, White House Fellow were excited to represent USDA on the US delegation to the UN for the 56th Commission on the Status of Women. The theme this year was the empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication. Agriculture plays a key role in the lives of rural women both domestically and abroad and it is important that USDA be at the table when these discussions are taking place.
The central product of the conference is to create Agreed Conclusions on the theme which provides recommendations for action by government, intergovernmental bodies, civil society, and other relevant stakeholders. These can and should be implemented at the international, national, regional and local levels. The main themes from this year’s Agreed Conclusions are to recognize and strengthen the role of rural women in agriculture; ensure rural women’s access to production resources, technology, markets and financing; to promote decent and productive employment and income-generating opportunities for rural women; enhance infrastructure and service-delivery that benefits rural women; recognize rural women’s role in natural resource management and climate change adaptation; and create effective institutions and enabling policy environments that promote gender responsive rural development. The goals are far reaching, but attainable. Read more »
It was fitting that the afternoon session of this month’s National Congress of American Indians meeting in Washington, DC, featured, as the lead speaker, former North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today joined tribal leaders from across the nation at the National Congress of American Indians Tribal Nations Legislative Summit in Washington, D. C. on Wednesday March 7, 2012, where he announced investments of $900,000 for positive nutrition education and physical activity habits that can lead to healthier lifestyles. USDA photo by Lance Cheung.
After leaving office, Senator Dorgan created a center for Native American Youth and remains an advocate for improving living conditions on reservations. At the event, Senator Dorgan urged attendees to continue to “fight on behalf of people living in third-world conditions to get them adequate housing, health care and an education system that gives Native kids opportunity.” Read more »
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. Read more »
Earlier this week I was privileged to co-host a historic meeting here at USDA. I was joined by Jodi Gillette, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Michael Black, Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to discuss ways USDA and BIA can work together to better serve the Tribes.
Our two agencies discussed the many challenges in addressing the needs for economic development, natural resource conservation and agriculture on trust land. We reached an agreement to develop working groups made up of representatives of the two departments to focus on land and credit issues. We will also discuss leasing processes, easement issues, how agreements that require both our department’s approvals can be handled more efficiently and how we can work together to focus on joint staff education and training. The end goal is to improve our processes so that economic development, alternative energy, conservation, agriculture, and all our related programs can deploy in Indian Country in a better way. We are forming two working groups of national and local office staff to clarify the issues and begin building workable solutions. Read more »