USDA Marks National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month
Tribal Consultation Sessions to be Held Through December
WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2010—USDA is marking National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month with a series of regional events intended to consult with members of Tribes on a government-to-government basis. At each of the consultation events, senior USDA officials will provide attendees with an overview of their programs and participate in discussions with tribal leaders.
"USDA is taking aggressive steps to conduct consultation sessions throughout the country and in a variety of ways, in support of the 'Memorandum on Tribal Consultation' signed by President Obama last year," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "At USDA, we recognize the principals of tribal sovereignty and self-determination and are committed to embracing our responsibilities to the Tribes."
Six USDA agencies are conducting consultation meetings on a variety of 2008 Farm Bill rules and emerging rules. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Food & Nutrition Service (FNS), Grain Inspectors Packers & Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Rural Development (RD) have coordinated their consultation efforts. Agency officials will also be available to discuss other functions, topics, and program related issues at the consultation events.
The first meeting was held late last month in Rapid City, South Dakota. Other meetings are planned in November and December in Oklahoma City, Minneapolis, Seattle, Nashville, Albuquerque and in Anchorage, Alaska. Tribal leaders can attend any of the consultations free of charge.
USDA is also planning events in Washington and elsewhere to mark National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. USDA's Offices of Tribal Relations, Human Resources and the Director of Diversity and Recruitment, along with the Natural Resources Conservation Service will host an event at the Agriculture Department's South Building on November 9. The featured speaker will be Billy Mills, the second American Indian ever to win an Olympic gold medal. Other agencies, including the Indian Health Service, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian are also planning events. For more information go to: http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/heritage_month/aihm/index.html or to http://www.ihs.gov/PublicAffairs/Heritage/.
National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month is celebrated to recognize the intertribal cultures and to educate the public about the heritage, history, art, and traditions of the American Indian and Alaska Native people. American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month originated in 1915 when the president of the Congress of American Indian Associations issued a proclamation. In 1990, a joint resolution designated November 1990 as "National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994.
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