Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal Administrator Della John, and USDA Office of Tribal Relations Director Leslie Wheelock (right) at a hoop house operated by the Tribe. USDA photo.
Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to participate in the National Congress of American Indian’s (NCAI) mid-year meeting in Reno, Nevada. The NCAI meeting was a warm and familiar place for me, as I recently left a position as NCAI’s Director of Economic Development to assume my current position as Director of USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations.
While I was in Nevada, I wanted to be certain to see Secretary Vilsack’s StrikeForce Initiative in action, as I was aware that Nevada’s USDA leaders had selected Nevada’s Indian reservations for their StrikeForce focus. What a day I had on June 26! It was tremendous to experience the mutual vigor among tribal leaders, USDA leaders, and their respective teams. Read more »
May 2nd dawned a majestic spring day in the Rocky Mountains of southwestern Colorado as rural and tribal stakeholders from the Four Corners region descended upon the San Juan National Forest Headquarters to learn more about USDA’s StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity Initiative. Participants traveled from New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and the east coast to discuss strategies to help USDA deliver its programs more successfully in persistently poor rural areas. Read more »
Left to Right: Tim Gillen (Wrangell Cooperative Association); Delores Churchill (Ketchikan Indian Community); Frank Demmert, Jr. (Klawock Cooperative Association) and Rob Sanderson (Ketchikan Indian Community)
The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the country, and constitutes 85 percent of the land mass in Southeast Alaska. No doubt, land management issues in Southeast were a main topic of discussion at the Tribal Collaboration Meeting held in Ketchikan on May 4th. Read more »
I was pleased to receive this statement in support of Secretary Vilsack’s appointment of members to the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching (CNAFR) from Ross Racine Executive Director of the Intertribal Agriculture Council.
“The addition of CNAFR to the USDA available tools should provide much needed Native American input to the Department policies, rules and program delivery. The CNAFR represents a diverse geographical group of individuals which in turn represents the diversity of Native American agriculture and natural resources. In addition, I foresee the CNAFR providing an additional sounding board for Tribes and individual Indian producers as barriers are identified and are in need of address to facilitate Native American participation in the vast array of USDA programs and services. CNAFR increases the Native American focus on Indian agriculture and increases the number of individuals pursuing positive change thus increasing Indian participation in USDA programs. CNAFR is another step USDA is taking to insure Native Americans have full opportunity to utilized programs and services to improve the quality of life on our Reservations.” Read more »
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 »