Shortly after taking office, I joined other Cabinet officials on a visit to rural Southwest Alaska. We met with Alaska Native leaders and heard firsthand the difficulties facing Native Americans living in small communities in remote, rural areas. Since that time, this administration has worked each day to provide Native Americans with improved housing, better educational opportunities, clean water and sanitation, and the opportunity to create good jobs. Across government, and here at USDA, we’ve made progress.
This past week, I joined President Obama and members of the Cabinet at the sixth White House Tribal Nations Conference here in Washington, DC. In addition to serving as the Chair of the White House Rural Council, I am also a member of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, chaired by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. Our priorities in Indian Country include promoting sustainable economic development; supporting greater access to and control over healthcare; improving the effectiveness and efficiency of tribal justice systems; expanding and improving educational opportunities for Native American youth; and protecting and supporting the sustainable management of Native lands, environments and natural resources. Read more »
This week marked the sixth consecutive year tribal leaders have gathered here in Washington at the President’s invitation to meet with key members of the Obama Administration, but this time is different: more than three dozen youth ambassadors were in attendance to kick off “Generation Indigenous” (Gen-I) – a new initiative calling for programs focused on better preparing young American Indians and Alaska Natives for college and careers as well as developing leadership skills. And it all started with the President’s visit last summer to the reservation of the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota. The President and First Lady met with Native American youth and saw their promise, but also the challenges they face.
In addition to issuing a White House Native Youth Report, outlining past government shortcomings, current challenges and a path forward for Native youth, we will look at ways to improve educational opportunities for Native youth, including improving schools, and reforming the Indian education system. At USDA, that means we will be supporting the Generation Indigenous initiative by focusing on the support we provide to the Tribal Colleges and Universities, internships and other opportunities for Native youth, healthy food at their schools and at home, and funding for broadband, school construction and other community facilities. Read more »
Students at Circle of Nations School gathered vegetables that they grew in the school’s garden. They used the kale and cabbage in a “Healthy Choices” cooking class.
In November, USDA pays tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans by observing Native American Heritage Month. Today, an important part of Native American culture includes working towards a healthier lifestyle for Native American people. The following guest blog demonstrates the wide range of efforts that tribes are making to support a healthier next generation. We thank the Circle of Nations School for sharing their story.
By Lise Erdrich, School Health Coordinator, Circle of Nations School
Circle of Nations School (CNS) is an inter-tribal off-reservation boarding school in Wahpeton, N.D., chartered under the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Oyate and funded by the Bureau of Indian Education. CNS serves American Indian youth in grades 4 through 8.
CNS is a 2012 recipient of the HealthierUS School Challenge Gold Award, a Green Ribbon School Award, and of the Carol M. White Physical Education Program (PEP) grant. CNS was the first Green Ribbon School in the state of North Dakota and the entire Bureau of Indian Education system. These and related initiatives promote healthy environment, physical activity and nutritional improvement points including fresh, locally sourced food. Read more »
The new Climate Hubs Northern Plains website provides producers with science-based information.
This fall, ranchers, farmers, and land managers in the Northern Plains from Bartlett, Nebraska to the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming will be making decisions that will affect their operations in the coming year. Land managers often consider markets, weather and changing climatic conditions using data and information from various sources including newspapers and popular press publications, Cooperative Extension agents, State Climatologists, and the Internet.
With the recent launch of the USDA Northern Plains Regional Climate Hub website, ranchers, farmers, and land managers have a new source for region-specific, science-based information, practical management and conservation strategies, and decision-support tools. The national Hubs site features links to the latest climate news, events, thematic climate highlights (e.g. Croplands, Forestland, Grazing Lands and Livestock) as well as educational materials, factsheets, and regional contact information. Read more »
Students help break ground on their future Head Start building.
“In the Dakota language, there is no word for ‘child’ or ‘children.’ Instead, there is ‘wakanyeja,’ which means ‘sacred little ones,’” reported a local newspaper. The importance of that future generation was evident on the Spirit Lake Indian Reservation in North Dakota as we broke ground for a new Head Start facility. This was a special project to me as it embodies so well what we do at USDA Rural Development.
President Obama’s recent visit to North Dakota highlighted our tribal areas and opportunities for native youth. This project aligns with the President’s vision as well as being a strong validation of Secretary Vilsack’s StrikeForce initiative. The Secretary’s leadership has allowed us to further identify issues in areas of persistently high poverty, which cultivated the ensuing meetings that helped make this project a reality. Read more »
North Dakota farmers don’t have to be Meek – they can brag about leading the nation in the production of Durum and spring wheat, as well as honey, pinto beans, canola, and other crops as well. Check back next Thursday as we spotlight another state and the 2012 Census of Agriculture.
Even before Lewis and Clark explored the Northern Plains in 1804 and 1805, agriculture was very prevalent in the area that later became North Dakota and it is still widespread today. The 2012 Census of Agriculture showed that farms and ranches occupy 39.3 million acres of land in North Dakota, which is an amazing 89-percent of the total land in the state.
North Dakota is a very diverse state when it comes to the number of commodities produced, especially for crops. In 2012, our farmers led the nation in the production of all dry edible beans, navy beans, pinto beans, canola, flaxseed, honey, Durum wheat, and spring wheat. North Dakota was also the second leading state in barley, lentils, oats, dry edible peas, sunflowers, and all wheat production. We also were in the top five for the production of multiple other crops. So as you can see, the state’s producers are varied in what they produce and the amount that they produce. Read more »