USDA Deputy Under Secretary Arthur “Butch” Blazer is all smiles with a group of San Carlos Apache Reservation fourth graders as they hold up their Every Kid in a Park passes. Smokey Bear got in on the fun, too, and provided the kids with a special packet of information about wildfire prevention. (U.S. Forest Service)
With more than 40 years of professional experience working in the field of natural resources, I am sometimes asked to share the personal outdoor experiences I had as a tribal member growing up on my reservation. When the request involves children, and those children are Native American, I am especially honored because in my culture the elders share traditional teachings of how we are connected to nature, both through stories and traditional songs.
As we celebrate Earth Day 2016, I am reminded of a recent invitation from the U.S. Forest Service Tonto National Forest and Smokey Bear to speak at a career day on the San Carlos Apache Reservation in Arizona. I had an audience of 180 tribal fourth graders from Rice Elementary School to share my experiences growing up on a reservation and the lessons I learned about the outdoors. Read more »
Researchers at the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station hosted a two-day field workshop at the Blodgett Experimental Forest in California as part of last year’s Native American Research Assistantship Program. Photo credit: Jonathan Long, US Forest Service.
The U.S. Forest Service is working with The Wildlife Society to give Native American students a chance to work as research assistants for Forest Service scientists. Forest Service Research and Development funding provides stipends for living expenses for college juniors, seniors and graduate students during their mentorship, while the society provides administrative support and coordination.
The Research Assistantship Program selects Native American students who are interested in becoming wildlife biologists. They gain beneficial hands-on experience while working with a wildlife professional on an approved project. Five students have been selected for research assistantships in this second year of the program, which will last for approximately 12-14 weeks, beginning in late spring and running through late summer. Read more »
Ben Barnette explains the significance of the rock formation in a two-day training session. Photo: Chris Robbins.
The day was brisk, the air was fresh, and the subject of the day was captivating. Sixteen Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field conservationists in California had just sat through a day of classroom-style instruction on cultural resources policy, law and identification. Now they trudged along behind California State Archaeologist Ben Barnette to practice their skills in a field setting.
“It all seemed fairly ordinary,” said Soil Conservationist Chris Robbins. “We stopped at a ranch and hiked over to an unremarkable rock formation jutting from the rolling landscape. But it turned out to be a rock shelter that was used by Native Americans—with plenty of evidence to prove it. They left their marks on the walls as well as pieces of artifacts scattered nearby.” Read more »
FDPIR provides healthy food and nutrition education to an average of 92,500 income-eligible individuals living on or near reservations across the United States each month.
March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.
In Indian Country, culture and tradition are sustained through shared meals with family and the community. Traditional foods are a powerful way for each new generation to connect with and honor its history and its ancestors.
Bison and blue cornmeal have recently graced the tables of participants in USDA’s Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) thanks to the joint commitment of the Agricultural Marketing Service and Food and Nutrition Service, working with the FDPIR community to identify and procure foods traditional to many tribes. Last year, AMS awarded two contracts to Native American-owned small businesses to deliver frozen, lean ground bison meat to FDPIR. From November 2015 to the end of June 2016, these companies are on schedule to deliver a total of 520,000 pounds of bison meat. A third contract was awarded for whole-grain blue cornmeal. This product was received by tribes during the 2015 holiday season for use in a wide variety of recipes and cultural dishes. Read more »
Secretary Vilsack meets with construction workers in Berlin, Maryland. The town was able to build a new water treatment plant with funds made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
This blog is cross posted from Secretary Vilsack’s Medium page:
Somedays being a Cabinet member, you have to be flexible. Today is one of those days. While in New Orleans to speak to the Renewable Fuel Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, I traveled to the Port of New Orleans to attend an event with Vice President Biden. The Vice President scheduled an event at the port to highlight the 7th anniversary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The Vice President is the most logical person to celebrate the anniversary of ARRA achievements since he led the historic effort on behalf of the Administration. I was to be one of the warm-up acts for Vice President Biden, but due to a scheduling conflict, I had to leave before the program started. Out of respect for the Vice President’s effort to lead the Administration’s implementation of ARRA, I had planned to highlight for him the enormous investment made in rural America as a result of ARRA. If I had been able to stay, I would have pointed to these 6 big investments by USDA: Read more »
Kentucky Highlands Promise Zone invests in local foods.
As a law student, I spent a summer working and living with the Sokoagon Band of the Chippewa, a Native American tribe located in rural Northern Wisconsin. Tribal leaders and members extended to me their kindness, friendship, passion and laughter. They are some of our country’s finest.
But, make no mistake, the Sokoagon face challenges shared by many persistently poor rural communities across our country.
That summer, I saw with new eyes the importance of dependable and consistent employment, housing, health care systems and education. That summer I also saw that for many rural Americans these things, taken for granted by many, are luxuries. Read more »