On January 10 and 11, 2011, USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations (OTR) visited Anchorage to conduct a consultation with Alaska Tribes on a wide range of subjects.
At the Consultation, OTR staff, and local and national agency officials met with representatives of Alaska’s Tribes for a discussion of programs and rules of four USDA agencies: Rural Development; Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Service; Farm Service Agency; and Natural Resource Conservation Service. Through this process, USDA was provided with valuable local insight, comments and recommendations concerning delivery of the Department’s programs to Alaska’s Native people. Much discussion related to the Substantially Underserved Trust Areas (SUTA) provision of the 2008 Farm Bill. Read more »
USDA Rural Development South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks recently awarded the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) Telephone Authority headquartered in Eagle Butte a $37.9 million USDA Telecommunication Infrastructure Loan to complete a total fiber to premises build out.
Attending the award ceremony was CRST Elders, Ione Lee and Delphine Red Fox. Delphine Red Fox‘s husband Steve Red Fox spent over 30 years working in the rural telecommunications industry and a majority of his time was with the CRST Telephone Authority. He was the first employee to retire from CRST Telephone Authority in 2005, a significant milestone for himself, his family and also for the company. Steve began his career in the 1960′s with aerial plant construction and then moved into the copper underground plant in the 1970′s as the company became a REA borrower. Read more »
Today marks a historic event. Alaska Native and Native American leaders are scheduled to meet with President Obama at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, held at the headquarters of the Department of Interior in Washington. Among those scheduled to attend from USDA are Secretary Tom Vilsack, Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager and Janie Hipp, senior advisor to the Secretary for tribal relations. Read more »
Earlier today, I joined Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and other top USDA officials here at the Agriculture Department for the Second USDA Tribal Leaders Listening Session. The leaders are in Washington for tomorrow’s White House Conference, called by President Obama because he is very serious about the need for the federal government to honor and respect our trust responsibilities to Native communities.
During an invocation at the start of today’s event, Dr. Ted Mala, physician and director of tribal relations at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage said that the USDA “takes care of our weakest people, rural people, who cannot be here today…give them strength.” Read more »
The Bois Forte Tribe in northeastern Minnesota has taken a proactive approach toward economic development. As recently as 10 years ago, there were areas of the Bois Forte community that did not have safe and sanitary drinking water. Building safe and affordable housing for tribal members also was an issue, along with other infrastructure and facility needs. Read more »
Rusty Gillette, Arikara/Hidatsa, a world class Grass Dancer from the Fort Berthold Reservation in White Shield, North Dakota was the cultural entertainment for the United States Department of Agriculture, National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month ceremony, "From the Roots of Our Past Grow the Promises of Tomorrow," held in Washington, DC, Tuesday, November 9, 2010. Gillette whose Indian name is “Hooves” is a member of the Dead Grass Society.
Earlier this week I was honored to participate in an event here at USDA that marked National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. Billy Mills, 1964 Olympic Gold Medalist addressed a capacity audience, sharing his life story and observations about how America and the world’s diversity can be a force, not to drive us apart, but to bring us together. Read more »