White House Update (information/news)

Good morning,

In this update, you will learn about some of the ways in which President Obama and his Administration continue to address the interests, concerns, and needs of the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) community.

Please visit us online to learn more about the White House Office of Public Engagement, theWhite House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and the White House's work with the Native American community. Please encourage your friends and colleagues to sign up for updates!

Best regards,

Raina Thiele
Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement
The White House

P.S. -- If you're on Twitter, you can follow Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett at @VJ44, Public Engagement Director Paulette Aniskoff at @PAniskoff44, and Director of Specialty Media Shin Inouye at @Inouye44!

Department of the Interior Offers Nearly $100 Million to Reduce Fractionation of Tribal Lands

On August 28, the Department of the Interior announced that purchase offers have been sent to more than 4,000 individual landowners with fractional interests at the Gila River Indian Reservation in Arizona and the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in Montana. These offers, totaling nearly $100 million, will give eligible landowners with interests in tribal priority tracts the opportunity to voluntarily sell their land to be held in trust for each tribe.

With these offers, Interior's Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations (Buy-Back Program) has sent more than 37,000 purchase offers to owners of fractionated interests. The Program has successfully concluded transactions worth nearly $97 million and has restored the equivalent of almost 265,000 acres of land to tribal governments.

The Buy-Back Program implements the land consolidation component of the Cobell Settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value within a 10-year period.

You can read the full press release here.

Click here to learn more about the Land Buy-Back Program.

Treasury Department Awards More Than $195 Million to Organizations Serving Low-Income and Native Communities

On August 26, the U.S. Department of Treasury's Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) awarded 185 organizations more than $195.4 million today through the fiscal year (FY) 2014 rounds of the Community Development Financial Institutions Program (CDFI Program) and the Native American CDFI Assistance Program (NACA Program). These awards will enable Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and Native CDFIs across the country to increase their lending and investments in low-income and economically distressed communities, including Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities (Native Communities). The awards announced will help these CDFIs and Native CDFIs build their capacity in order to better meet the investment and lending needs of the communities they serve.

Click here to learn more about the recently announced funding.

Department of Justice Releases Report to Congress on Indian Country Investigations and Prosecutions

On August 26, the Department of Justice released its second report to Congress entitledIndian Country Investigations and Prosecutions, which provides a range of enforcement statistics. The Department of Justice is required to issue this report to comply with the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010. The report also serves to communicate the progress of the Attorney General's initiatives to reduce violent crime and strengthen tribal justice systems.

The report details the voluntary progress three tribes have made implementing the Violence Against Women Act of 2013. The Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, the Umatilla Tribes of Oregon, and the Tulalip Tribes of Washington will be the first tribes in the nation to exercise special criminal jurisdiction over crimes of domestic and dating violence, regardless of the defendant's Indian or non-Indian Status.

Click here to read more about the report.

Click here to learn more about the Justice Department's efforts to increase public safety in Indian Country.

Associate Attorney General Tony West Speaks at the Four Corners Conference

Associate Attorney General Tony West speaks at the Four Corners Conference in Flagstaff, Arizona, August 26, 2014. (Photo by the U.S. Department of Justice)

On August 26, Associate Attorney General Tony West spoke at the Four Corners Conference. Mr. West detailed how the Indian community effectively confronted the reality of high rates of violence against Native women and girls in Indian country. Mr. West stated that the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act helped push forward legislative recommendations to help tribes protect Indian women from domestic violence. He detailed other initiatives and encouraged the Indian community to remain committed to this cause.

On the same day, Mr. West also announced the release of $3 million in grants to address violence against women in rural and tribal communities in the Bakken region. These grants are meant to increase local and tribal capacity to prosecute crimes of violence against women and provide services to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking in the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana.

Click here to read Associate Attorney General West's entire statement.

Click here to read more about the Bakken region grants.

Click here to learn more about the Justice Department's efforts to combat violence against women.

FEMA Releases a New Tribal Consultation Policy

On August 26, Administrator Craig Fugate announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Tribal Consultation Policy, which begins a new phase of engagement and collaboration with American Indian and Alaska Native tribes. The new policy establishes a process for regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials on Agency actions that have tribal implications, and it emphasizes the importance of consulting with Indian Country.

Click here to read the full policy.

Click here to learn more about FEMA Tribal Affairs.

Department of the Interior Issues Secretarial Order Affirming American Indian Trust Responsibilities

Last month, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell issued a Secretarial Order reaffirming the Department of the Interior's trust responsibilities to federally recognized Indian tribes and individual Indian beneficiaries and providing guidance for Interior agencies in carrying out their obligations to them.

"This Order reaffirms the Department's obligations and demonstrates our continuing commitment to upholding the important federal trust responsibility for Indian Country," said Secretary Jewell, who chairs the White House Council on Native American Affairs.

Secretary of the Interior Jewell, Secretary of Education Duncan Visit Indian School in Maine

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan take a picture with students and faculty at the Beatrice Rafferty School in Perry, Maine, August 18, 2014. (Photo by the U.S. Department of the Interior)

In August, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited the Beatrice Rafferty School in Perry, Maine on the Passamaquoddy Tribe's reservation to discuss ongoing educational reform initiatives to ensure students attending schools funded by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) receive a high-quality education delivered by tribal nations.

Click here to learn more about the Secretaries' trip to Maine.

EPA Issues Policy Supporting Tribal and Indigenous Communities

On July 25, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a new policy supporting environmental justice for tribal and indigenous communities. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy signed the EPA Policy on Environmental Justice for Working with Federally Recognized Tribes and Indigenous Peoples, reinforcing the agency's commitment to work with tribes on a government-to-government basis when issues of environmental justice arise.

You can read the full policy here.

Mi’gmaq Community (language)

Mi’gmaq community works to revitalize language

McGill, Concordia linguists partner to help develop educational tools
Written by Janna Bryson | Visual by the Listuguj Education Directorate

Not all McGill research happens at McGill. Since Fall 2011, the Listuguj Mi’gmaq community has been the site of the Mi’gmaq Research Partnership (MRP), a joint venture between the linguistics departments at McGill and Concordia and the Listuguj community. The project aims to bring linguists, their students, and Mi’gmaq community members together to develop a deeper understanding of the disappearing Mi’gmaq language.

Access full article below: 

Documenting Native American languages

9/2/2014 9:54:00 AM
Navajo woman undertakes project to document Native American languages and histories
Katherine Locke Reporter
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Karen Begay wants to preserve Native American languages from becoming extinct by recording and documenting tribal and family history from tribes across the United States told by elders in their own languages. 

She envisions turning her work into an archive titled Native American Oral History that can be passed on to future generations. A big part of the project is capturing the time when the elders grew up, a time that does not exist now. 

"We're letting the people talk in their own languages," Begay said. "Talk about their history, their family history, their tribe and their culture."

Council for Native American Farming and Ranching (news)

Secretary Vilsack Appoints Members to the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching

USDA Office of Communications sent this bulletin at 09/08/2014 11:00 AM EDT
Secretary Vilsack Appoints Members to the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching
Council will continue to provide recommendations that encourage Native American participation in USDA programs

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2014--Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the re-appointment of eight members and the appointment of three new members to the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching. As an advisory committee, the Council provides recommendations to the Secretary on changes to Farm Service Agency (FSA) regulations and other measures that would eliminate barriers to program participation for Native American farmers and ranchers.

"Over the previous two years the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching has provided recommendations meant to help tribal governments, businesses, farmers and ranchers partner with USDA to create jobs, drive economic growth and strengthen tribal communities, and I look forward to a continuation of their progress," Vilsack said.

The Council will continue to promote the participation of Native American farmers and ranchers in all USDA programs and support government-to-government relations between USDA and tribal governments. The Council is a discretionary advisory committee established under the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture in furtherance of the Keepseagle v. Vilsack settlement agreement, which was granted final approval by the District Court for the District of Columbia on April 28, 2011.

The Council consists of fifteen members, including four USDA officials and eleven Native American leaders and reprsentatives. Members of the Council are appointed for two-year terms by the Secretary. The appointees include: Native American (American Indian and Alaska Native) farmers or ranchers; representatives of nonprofit organizations that work with Native farmers and ranchers; civil rights professionals; educators; tribal elected leaders; senior USDA officials; and other persons the Secretary deems appropriate.

The following individuals are appointed to the Council:

John Berrey, Chairman of Quapaw Tribe, (Quapaw), Sperry, Okla.

Tawney Brunsch, Executive Director of Lakota Funds, (Oglala Sioux), Kyle, S.D.

Gilbert Harrison, Rancher, (Navajo), Shiprock, N.M.*

Henry Holder, Farmer/Rancher, (Choctaw), Soper, Okla.*

Derrick Lente, Attorney and Farmer/Rancher, (Sandia Pueblo), Sandia Pueblo, N.M.

Jerry McPeak, Farmer/Rancher and State Legislator, (Muscogee Creek), Warner, Okla.*

Angela Sandstol, Natural Resources and Conservation Official, (Native Village of Tyonek), Tyonek, Alaska*

Edward Soza, Rancher/Tribal Council Member (Soboba), Banning, Calif.*

Mary Thompson, Farmer/Rancher, (Eastern Band of Cherokee), Cherokee, N.C.*

Sarah Vogel, Civil Rights Attorney and Former two-term Agricultural Commissioner for North Dakota, Bismarck, N.D.*

Mark Wadsworth, Natural Resources/Range Management, (Shoshone-Bannock), Blackfoot, Idaho*

(*Denotes those re-appointed)

Four (4) USDA officials are also appointed to the Council:

Chris Beyerhelm, Director, Farm Loan Programs, Farm Service Agency;

Val Dolcini, Administrator, Farm Service Agency;

Dr. Joe Leonard, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights;

Leslie Wheelock (Oneida), Director, Office of Tribal Relations.

The Council will hold its next meeting during the fall of 2014. The Council will continue to work closely with the Office of Tribal Relations, Farm Service Agency and other USDA agencies to improve the success of Native farmers and ranchers who access USDA's entire portfolio of programs to build and achieve profitability in their businesses.

College Advice to Incoming College Freshman

Living Life at Dartmouth As A Native©

#Cheesy Philosophy

by Andre Cramblit, NAD ‘86 (Native Americans @ Dartmouth) Karuk Tribe™

Q: How many Alumni does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Three.  1 to change the bulb and two to reminisce about how good the old one was.

I remember my first week at Dartmouth College. It was after a week-long bus ride from California. Dartmouth, the Ivies, the East Coast, College in general, they are all worlds away from the reality of the California Rez (American Indian Reservation).   Being Native and attending college means having to exist in two worlds.  You must be strong within yourself to face the challenges ahead.

To those of you in school now: 

Stay strong resist the temptations. Try your best to ignore the mainstream and be comfortable in yourself. Get close to the other Native American students - they are part of your family no.

Go to sleep earlier now and then, have afternoon tea to clear the mind, don't go to big parties if you need to study, don't miss the comfort food in the dining hall. 

Take advantage of office hours. Get to know your professors on a one to one level if possible. Contrary to popular belief they are human too. If they know you as a person, it helps them understand where you are coming from and who you are as an individual. Take the time to dress up nicely it will be appreciated, and they do not need to see how cool you are in flip-flops, sunglasses and shorts. Best offices hours I heard of, running with your prof.  Back in the day we used to throw a dinner party.  There is nothing like seeing a tipsy Professor enjoying some regular non-classroom talk with students., having the President, Dean and other administrators is a plus.

A shot of espresso actually has less caffeine than a large coffee.  Don't waste your money on that $4 dopio grande soy caramel latte, there is time for that when you graduate and get a job (even then don't do it).

The clam chowder is best on Friday afternoon (much thicker then), go to the art or independent films you woint see at the mega theater complex. Keep of the freshman 15, get to know the Dean-They could be your friend in time of need. 

Help out at the Pow Pow or in the local Native community programs and events. Do something fun on Spring break and be sure to write your family. Stare at the stars.

Scout out a QUIET place to study during finals.  See the world while you can. Plan to study abroad do a Language Study Abroad (LSA) or Foreign Study Program (FSP) at least a semester.

Attend a choir concert.). Get involved in a club or organization. Attend an International Fair.  Try being a DJ at the radio station; forcing people to listen to music you like is cathartic.

Make a point of getting to know your financial aid officer personally. Ask for a better financial aid package. Don't worry about the massive loans; it is an investment in you.

Enjoy the dance of the changing leaf colors, road trips to new places (with a designated driver), be active (politically, academically, socially, community, etc.). Invite each of your profs to have lunch with you, it is a classy move, you will have quality time with them and 60% of the time they will pick up the tab.

Take early classes (there are more things you want to do in the evening). 

Take a PE class that challenges you or gives you a new skill.  Try, archery (not all Natives are born knowing how to shoot a bow and arrow), or aikido they are practical skills you can use in life. Rifle class is an easy PE Credit (plus you get to shoot things); a 9 AM soccer class on Thursdays after fraternity house meetings is not an easy PE Credits.

Use condoms, tweak the establishments nose occasionally, support causes that make it a better world.

Live in the Native American house at least one semester if you have one. Dance at the dances put on by other minority/ethnic groups, resist the urge to apply for the credit cards, if you check your mail box every other day you're more likely to have mail. 

Study the wisdom of Buckaroo Banzai, try a modified major, write letters to the editor, run for an office. 

Oceans and earth moon and everyone are great science classes for the humanities' Pre-Med biology is not a good science for humanities major, talk to that cute guy or girl (make eye contact first), Don’t just stay on campus, see what the town you are in has to offer.

Don't rely on the cabs to get there on time, Public transportation is a cheap way to explore your town and region. 

Buy as much computer as financial aid will allow. For every 1 hour in class try to schedule 2-3 for study-research and reading. Study during the day and tackle your hardest classes work first. Take copious notes.  Remember your professors can tell if you're using a 14 point font and 1.5 inch margins, Save often!!

Take frequent breaks, college life is about growing as an individual, meet new people, take long walks, workout, be active in some new projects or organizations, a good (responsible) social life will help you find a good connection to school.  Just say no every now and then.

Go out for a sports team or club team.  You will meet people and stay active; Intramurals are always fun (do they still have broom hockey and inter-tube water polo)?

Learn your language, try and preserve the Native knowledge of your people it is your connection to your very existence.  Work with the any linguist to get assistance for your tribe.  Consider the needs of your people and find ways to elect better Tribal leaders.  Work to become a Tribal leader.

Take advantage of the outdoors Explore the campus and green spaces around your school. Participate in outdoor clubs.

Don't shy away from difficult courses or professors.  Don't get in over your head either.  Do not be afraid to try something new and if you realize in the first few classes it is way beyond your capacity or interest, drop it and move on.

Take intro courses.  Who knows, philosophy, religion, or drama 101 may change the course of your education.

Speak up in seminars or class. Ask questions.  Don't be afraid.  Someone else is wondering the same thing as you.  Your Prof will appreciate the participation.

Write, write, write.  Keep a journal.  You have to learn to communicate your every thought through words, be creative. It is a cliché but think outside the box. Come at things from a different angle. Your Professor already knows that light and dark is a major metaphor in Heart of Darkness.

Look for creative ways to get money.  Get new scholarships every semester to reduce the amount of loans and work study you need. Apply for grants to study things that interest you.  Apply for a fellowship to lead you into new areas to explore, not just something related to your major or career goal.

Learn a different language.  The world is getting smaller, and communication is the key to EVERYTHING!

Get to know your dorm mates; don't isolate yourself with just other people like yourself.

Don't drink your freshman year away.

Go from the classroom to the real world. Find funding that allows you to complete an internship in the Native community.

Ramen is cheap (not nutritious) if you have extra money then add a hot dog for protein.  Bringing comods from home will just confuse your non-Indian friends but can help you get the basics together for NDN Taco night.  Good nutrition is important for being able to study long and hard and to staying healthy.

You are here to learn about everything. Develop an appreciation for the arts.  Attend concerts, recitals, lectures, art show openings, symposia, and poetry slams.

Get a tutor. Join a study group, or find a partner to work with more minds cannot be bad. Start an outline for those papers early so it's easier to finish when you wait till the last minute.

And most importantly always take advice from alumni with skepticism; it's your school now.

Law Against Caricatures (mascots)

DENVER - A state lawmaker wants Colorado schools with American Indian mascots to get approval to continue using them from the Native American community. If the mascots, names or imagery are not approved, and the school continues using it, the proposal would block the schools from receiving state funds.

Representative Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, said he plans to introduce the bill at the beginning of next year's legislative session in January.

"We don't have to give funding to a school or public education institution that wants to engage in derogatory behavior," explained Representative Salazar.

There is an ongoing debate about Native American-themed mascots, one that has centered on the NFL's Washington Redskins.

More than a dozen Colorado schools still have Indian-themed mascots, including Lamar High School, home of the Savages, Eaton High School, home of the reds, and the Yuma High School Indians.

The bill proposed by Salazar would allow the Native American community to decide if the mascots and imagery are offensive.

It would require schools with Indian-themed mascots to get approval by representatives from the Indian community. Mascots or imagery deemed offensive could no longer be used, and public schools who decide to continue using the mascots would then be stripped of state funds.

"Why is a law needed?" asked 7NEWS Reporter Jennifer Kovaleski.

"The reason the law is necessary is because we do have schools that are resistant to wanting to change these derogatory images," said Salazar. "I believe there is a school up in the east area of Colorado that uses savages as their mascot and that is wholly -- and by any measure -- derogatory and offensive."

Some Colorado teams previously dropped their Indian-themed mascots. Arvada High School switched from Redskins to the Reds in 1993, and the school adopted a Bulldog mascot.

Arapahoe High School has kept its mascot, the Warriors, but had the logo designed by a Native American artist. Salazar said those schools are the model.

"Those that have already received that type of approval have reached out to the respective tribes they won't have to go through that process," he explained.

Salazar said the bill is still in the early stages. He plans to get more input from the public during a community meeting scheduled at the Denver Indian Family Resource Center, 4407 Morrison Road, from 4:30-7p.m. on Sept. 10.

Similar bills have been introduced in the state legislature, but did not pass.