John Yellow Bird Steele, President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) signed a proclamation declaring June 2011 National Homeownership Month. The signing event took place in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, earlier this month with Partnership for Housing and USDA Rural Development on site for the ceremony.
“USDA Rural Development is actively engaged with assisting the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in increasing homeownership opportunities in coordination with our public, private, and non-profit partners,” said Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks. “Homeownership often leads to economic improvements, a better sense of pride in yourself and of the community.”
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South Dakota Rural Development State Director Elsie M. Meeks addressed a crowd of nearly 500 attendees at the 37th Annual National American Indian Council Convention & Trade Show in Phoenix, Arizona last week. This year’s theme was “Connect to the Past, Commit to the Future.”
Meeks, an Oglala Sioux Tribal Member, highlighted Rural Development’s programs and provided stats on the opportunities provided to American Indian/Alaska Native families on a national scale since the year 2000. She noted that the Single Family Housing Direct Program has helped over 2,600 Native families become homeowners during that time and that the USDA Guaranteed program has helped an additional 3,700 families achieve their homeownership dreams. In addition the USDA Home Repair program has funded home repairs for over 3,000 Native families. 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 »
On Wednesday May 4th, Secretary Tom Vilsack joined tribal leaders to discuss energy opportunities across Indian Country at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Tribal Energy Summit here in Washington, DC. The event was a culmination of Energy Roundtables that had taken place across the country over the past few months and provided an opportunity for tribal leaders to hear from cabinet officials about energy programs across the United States Government. Read more »
Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:
Last week, Secretary Vilsack joined St. Louis Rams quarterback and Cherokee nation member Sam Bradford in the USDA People’s Garden to talk about the importance of healthy lifestyles to improve the health of our nation’s kids. Secretary Vilsack and Sam Bradford were accompanied by the Executive Director of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative, Robin Schepper, Keith Moore, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education Director, and Janie Hipp, Senior Advisory to Secretary Vilsack with the USDA Office of Tribal Relations. The event underscored the value of programs like Fuel Up to Play 60, Let’s Move! Outside, and the People’s Garden to provide opportunities for parents, teachers and child care givers to get kids up and moving during the summer months. 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 »