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 »
The Rosebud Sioux Tribe was exceeding the landfill capacity of handling 20 tons a day of garbage at the central landfill in the Northeast corner of the Rosebud Reservation. Garbage is hauled from twenty communities on the Reservation that range from 15 miles to 80 miles one way. Approximately 30 tons of solid waste is generated daily on the Rosebud Reservation.
Recently the Rosebud Sioux Tribe received USDA Water and Environmental loan and grant funds to construct a new transfer station. The project has made the operation cost effective and improved trash collection for residents on the Reservation.
A central transfer station located closer to where most of the garbage is generated allows the Tribe to minimize trips to the landfill, alleviate wear on equipment, minimize dumpster overflow and illegal dumping, and allow the Tribe to participate in recycling efforts resulting in saving space and extending the life of the landfill. In addition, the modernization of the transfer station has provided the members of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe efficiencies in managing how the solid waste is handled and disposed of. What used to take almost 5 days for pick-up now takes 3.5 days, which is a huge labor savings, plus, fuel costs have dropped. Read more »
Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of the Native CDFI, Lakota Fund with USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks at the StrikeForce conference. USDA photos
South Dakota USDA officials recently highlighted the StrikeForce initiative at the bi-annual South Dakota Indian Business Alliance Conference held in Rapid City. The conference with the theme of, “Building Opportunities in the New Native America,” was a perfect opportunity to announce South Dakota USDA’s focus on increasing partnerships and leveraging resources on South Dakota tribal lands. Read more »
The City of Kasaan’s new 150,000 gallon water storage tank. Quality water for an Alaska Native Community provided through the USDA Rural Alaska Village Grant Program, Photo taken by Jerry Cnossen, Project Superintendent for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) and used with permission.
The rural Native village of Kasaan is located in Southeast Alaska and is nearly 700 miles north of Seattle. Earth Day 2013 highlighted USDA Rural Development’s efforts to improve environmental and health conditions in rural Alaskan communities. Part of that effort is the successful completion of the Kasaan Water Project.
Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding of the project in the summer of 2011. The funding was provided through USDA’s Rural Alaska Village Grant (RAVG) program. The project is another successful culmination in the partnerships between USDA, the State of Alaska, the Indian Health Service and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC). The new infrastructure was put into operation after a final inspection on March 20th. Read more »
As part of President Obama’s commitment to honoring Government-to-Government relationships with Tribal Nations, the federal government is continuing to strengthen its relationships in Indian Country. The Departments of Agriculture (USDA), Defense, Interior, and Energy joined the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation and released an action plan to implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) regarding interagency coordination and collaboration for the protection of Indian Sacred Sites.
Last week during the National Congress of American Indian’s (NCAI) Executive Council Winter Session, USDA Deputy Undersecretary, Arthur “Butch” Blazer, announced that he will help lead USDA’s efforts for the implementation of the MOU. Due to his expertise Blazer is the ideal choice to lead the USDA component of the Action Plan. Prior to his position at USDA, Blazer served as the New Mexico State Forester where he was the first Native American to hold that position. During his tenure as State Forester, he was also named as Chair of the Council of Western State Foresters and Co-Chair for the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition. A member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, he was also his tribe’s lead forestry official and has been intimately involved in Tribal issues throughout his life. Read more »
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, right of center, hosted two roundtable meetings in Lower Brule, SD on Feb. 28, 2013. Deputy Secretary Merrigan held a press availability with tribal leaders to reaffirm the Obama Administration’s commitment to Indian Country and highlight the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) efforts to promote business development and job creation in rural South Dakota. USDA photo by Tammi Shone.
Last week, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan led a USDA delegation deep into the heart of Indian Country in South Dakota. All three of us and our teams from USDA’s South Dakota state offices for Rural Development, the Farm Service Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service were joined by the Acting Director of the USDA Office of Tribal Relations, Max Finberg, along with Darlene Barnes, the regional director of the Food and Nutrition Service, and South Dakota’s Agriculture Commissioner Walt Bones. We were hosted by the Crow Creek and Lower Brule Sioux nations in the center of our state. The Deputy Secretary held a roundtable discussion on the importance of agriculture and economic development in Indian Country and visited a unique Native American food company. She was joined by many tribal leaders and organizations, including farmers, ranchers and food entrepreneurs. Read more »