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.
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President Obama Engages Native Youth at My Brother’s Keeper Town Hall
On July 21, President Obama hosted a town hall session featuring the My Brother’s Keeper initiative. He announced new commitments in support of MBK and engaged in dialogue with young boys and men of color. Youth from the Center for Native American Youth’s Champions for Change program, the Native American Political Leadership Institute’s INSPIRE Initiative, and the Navajo Nation attended the town hall and asked the President about the Administration’s work to support Native American language and cultural preservation.
The President reaffirmed his commitment to Native American youth and the importance of honoring one’s roots. Discussing his trip to the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in June, the President applauded the tribe’s work on Lakota language revitalization and remarked about the powerful stories he heard from the tribe’s young people.
Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience Announces Tribal Climate Resilience Program
On July 16, the White House State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience held its fourth and final meeting. In an effort to help tribes prepare for climate change, the Administration announced its new Tribal Climate Resilience Program. As part of this initiative, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will dedicate $10 million in funding for tribes and tribal organizations to develop tools to enable adaptive resource management, as well as the ability to plan for climate resilience.
Additionally, the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency will partner to create a new subgroup on climate change under the White House Council on Native American Affairs. This subgroup will share data and information and coordinate Administration efforts to assist tribes in climate resilience and mitigation efforts.
AmeriCorps Expands Presence in Tribal Communities
As part of President Obama’s commitment to Indian Country, AmeriCorps announced $3 million in grants to support Native American communities. These funds will increase the number of AmeriCorps members serving tribal communities by 41 percent. In total, these 17 tribal grants will support more than 250 AmeriCorps members serving with tribal organizations in 13 states.
The President and First Lady’s Historic Visit to Indian Country
On June 13, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in Cannonball, North Dakota for the President’s first visit to Indian Country since taking office. Accompanied by the First Lady, the President met with Native American youth, tribal leaders, and attended the tribe’s annual Flag Day celebration where he spoke to Indian Country.
“My Administration is determined to partner with tribes, and it’s not something that just happens once in a while,” the President said. “It takes place every day, on just about every issue that touches your lives. And that’s what real nation-to-nation partnerships look like.”
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attended the Cannon Ball Flag Day Powwow in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on June 13, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Statement by the President on the Passing of Billy Frank, Jr.
On May 5, President Obama released a statement on the passing of Billy Frank, Jr.:
I was saddened to learn of the passing of Billy Frank, Jr. — Chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and a member of the Nisqually Indian Tribe. Billy fought for treaty rights to fish the waters of the Pacific Northwest, a battle he finally won in 1974 after being arrested many times during tribal “fish-ins.” Today, thanks to his courage and determined effort, our resources are better protected, and more tribes are able to enjoy the rights preserved for them more than a century ago. Billy never stopped fighting to make sure future generations would be able to enjoy the outdoors as he did, and his passion on the issue of climate change should serve as an inspiration to us all. I extend my deepest sympathies to the Nisqually Indian Tribe, and to Billy’s family, and to his many friends who so greatly admired him.
White House Council on Native American Affairs Update
On May 1, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell convened a successful third meeting of the White House Council on Native American Affairs. Seven Cabinet Secretaries and senior officials discussed ongoing progress and current priorities aimed at working more collaboratively and effectively with American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes to advance their economic and social goals.
Among the topics discussed were promoting sustainable Tribal economic development; supporting greater access to and control over healthcare; improving the effectiveness of the Tribal justice systems; expanding and improving educational opportunities for Native youth; and supporting sustainable management of Native lands, environments, and natural resources.
The meeting was concluded with a discussion of the group’s preliminary findings and recommendations for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell convenes the third meeting of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, May 1, 2014. (U.S. Department of the Interior)