Blog Posts Related to the Native American Community

  • White House 2012 Tribal Nations Conference: Helping Indian Country Move Forward

    Editor's note: This is cross-posted from the Assitant Secretary of Indian Affairs' blog.

    On December 5, I had the tremendous honor and privilege of attending my first White House Tribal Nations Conference as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. The event was hosted by President Obama and Secretary Salazar at the Interior Department’s Sidney R. Yates Auditorium in Washington, D.C. It’s the fourth year in a row that the White House has provided tribal leaders this important opportunity to speak directly with officials at the highest levels of federal government, and hear from the president himself, about Indian Country issues. I was in listening mode, seeking their wisdom.

    Leaders from more than 300 federally recognized tribes attended the conference, and cabinet officials heard from them on a variety of important topics. In addition to Secretary Salazar, the leadership of the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, Justice, Transportation, and Treasury, as well as the heads of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Small Business Administration, turned out to report to the tribal leaders on their efforts to help Indian Country move forward. Many others were in the audience, including several members of Congress.

    The White House coordinated breakout sessions with topics on “Strengthening Tribal Communities: Economic Development, Housing, Energy and Infrastructure,” “Protecting Our Communities: Law Enforcement and Disaster Relief,” “Securing Our Future: Cultural Protection, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection,” “Building Healthy Communities, Excellence in Education and Native American Youth,” and “Strengthening and Advancing the Government-to-Government Relationship” where tribal leaders could speak face-to-face with federal representatives about their peoples’ concerns and needs. Each session was well-attended (some with standing-room-only participation), and tribal leaders spoke frankly while federal officials listened, offered responses, and took notes.

  • Update on IHS Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative

    Editor's note: This is cross-posted from the Indian Health Service Director's blog.

    The Rosebud IHS Service Unit has achieved designation as a Baby-Friendly® Hospital, which makes it the first hospital to achieve this designation in the Indian Health Service and in the state of South Dakota. This prestigious award is given to facilities that practice the Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. Research shows that following the Ten Steps increases exclusive breastfeeding, and this helps to reduce obesity and diabetes in the population.

    Co-administered by the World Health Organization and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, the Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is an evidence-based practice care model designed to protect and promote breastfeeding as the safest, healthiest way to nourish babies. Hospitals that achieve Baby-Friendly status are committed to promoting and protecting breastfeeding at all stages, including prenatal counseling, inpatient services, and community awareness. Core components of the initiative promote the benefits of breastfeeding, such as skin-to-skin contact between mom and infant, and non-separation of mother and infant.

    As a result of this initiative at Rosebud IHS Hospital, breastfeeding initiation rates are now consistently in the 90th percentile and exclusive breastfeeding rates have continued to climb.

    "The staff and providers at Rosebud have made this program a success, and their hard work and dedication to protecting breastfeeding is evident," says Clifton Kenon Jr., Maternal Child Health Program Manager for Aberdeen Area Indian Health Service.

    "Baby-Friendly at Rosebud is a reality because every single person made a commitment to making the program a success, which is an attribute we pride ourselves on at Rosebud," says Sophie Two Hawk, M.D., Chief Executive Officer at Rosebud Hospital.

    Rosebud's achievement started as a campaign to decrease childhood obesity, through the First Lady's "Let's Move in Indian Country" initiative. Our goal in the IHS Baby-Friendly Hospital Initiative is to have all 13 IHS hospitals with obstetric services achieve the designation.

    Please join us in congratulating Rosebud IHS Hospital for becoming one of the less than 5 percent of hospitals designated as Baby-Friendly in the U.S. Their work to promote breastfeeding will help improve the health of their community for generations to come.

    Dr. Yvette Roubideaux is the Indian Health Service Director at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

  • Continuing the Progress in Tribal Communities

    Audience members listen as President Obama delivers remarks during the White House Tribal Nations Conference (December 5, 2012)

    Audience members listen as President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., Dec. 5, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Over the past four years, through tribal consultation and the White House Tribal Nations Conferences, President Obama and his Administration have worked to ensure that tribal leaders are directly involved in setting policy priorities. Today, President Obama is hosting the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of Interior.

    This conference continues to build upon the President’s commitment to strengthen the government to government relationship with Indian Country, by providing invited leaders from the 566 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with the President and representatives from the highest levels of his Administration.  In conjunction with today’s event, the White House released a report, Continuing the Progress in Tribal Communities,” that examines the President’s agenda and how this Administration, by working together with tribes, has made a difference for American Indians and Alaska Natives. 

  • President Obama to Host the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference

    On December 5, 2012, President Obama will host representatives invited from each of the 566 federally recognized American Indian tribes, and Alaska Native Villages, at the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference.  Fulfilling a commitment to improve and expand dialog with Indian Country, the President has hosted a Tribal Nations Conference in each year of his Presidency to facilitate a lasting discussion between Tribal Leaders and Senior Administration Officials.  The opening and closing sessions of the Conference will be available for live online viewing at and also at  The expected agenda is as follows:

    Opening Session, 9:00am – 10:30am EST
    Secretary Ken Salazar, Department of the Interior
    Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education
    Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin, Department of the Treasury
    Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank, Department of Commerce
    Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services
    Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Agriculture

    Closing Session, 1:30pm – 3:30pm EST
    Leaders of Each Tribal Leaders Breakout Session
    Secretary Ray LaHood, Department of Transportation
    Secretary Hilda Solis, Department of Labor
    President Barack Obama

    The White House Tribal Nations Conference is the cornerstone of the Administration’s outreach and engagement with tribal governments and the dialogue and lessons learned will help shape federal policy in the weeks, months and years to come. We would like to sincerely thank all tribal leaders who will be taking part in the White House Tribal Nations Conference and we look forward to our continued collaboration and dialogue.

  • 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference

    On December 5, 2012, the White House will host representatives invited from each federally recognized tribe at the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, December 5, 2012, from 9:00am to 3:30pm.  The Conference will be held at the Department of the Interior’s Sidney R. Yates Auditorium.  For more details, please see the below frequently asked questions.

    Each federally recognized tribe is invited to designate one representative to attend the Conference.  If you have not already done so, please register by 10 p.m. EST on Thursday, November 29, 2012 at the registration deadline, you will receive a confirmation and further instructions.

    We hope to see you at the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference. 

    Frequently Asked Questions


    Q: Where will the 2012 Tribal Nations Conference be held?

    A: The Conference will be held at the Department of the Interior, with the opening session in the Sidney R. Yates Auditorium and breakout sessions in ancillary meeting rooms.

    Q: Why isn’t the conference being held at the White House?

    A: We are inviting all 566 federally recognized tribes to send a representative to the Conference, and we needed a location that would ensure we had enough space. The Department of the Interior has graciously offered its main auditorium to use for this important event.

    Q: Will the President speak at the conference? Will he interact with the tribal leaders?

    A: The President is expected to deliver remarks.

    Q: Can Tribal Organizations send a representative to the conference?

    A: The purpose of the conference is to further strengthen the government to government relationship between federally recognized tribes and the Obama Administration. Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate organizations at the event.

    Q: Can I bring more than one representative?

    A: Regretfully, due to space constraints we can only accommodate one representative from each tribe.

    Q: Our tribal chairman cannot attend; may we send another elected representative from our tribe?

    A. Yes, however only one person per tribe may participate in the Tribal Nations Conference. Tribal leaders who cannot attend any of the events must approve another member of the tribe to represent the tribe on the tribal leader’s behalf. Any requests for exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  

    Q: Does the White House provide for travel or accommodations?

    A: No. The White House is unable provide travel or hotel accommodations.

    Q: Is there a host or preferred hotel?

    A: No, but local tribal organizations may be able to assist with lodging recommendations.

    Q: Can I get a White House tour?

    A: If you are interested in a White House tour, please write us at IndianCountry@who.eop.govwith your preferred dates for a tour. Please keep in mind that space is limited and we may not be able to accommodate all requests.

    Q: Can I register via phone?

    A: No, please register here or send a fax to (202) 456-1647 with the name, title, tribe phone number and e-mail address of your tribe’s representative, confirmation will be made by email.

    Q: I am a member of the press, can I cover the conference?

    A: Please call Shin Inouye at (202) 456-6238 or email

    Q: May our tribal delegation meet separately with the President while we are there?

    A: Regretfully, due to the volume of inquiries and the time constraints of the President’s schedule, we are unable to consider any meeting requests with the President.

    Q: May our tribe present the President with a gift?

    A: We understand some tribal leaders may be interested in bringing a gift for the President. We appreciate the generosity, but gifts are not expected nor encouraged. For those who do bring gifts, they will have to be submitted on site through the White House Gift Office. Please note that a gift registration form will need to be completed for each gift before entering the conference venue and gifts will not be accepted without a form attached. The gift registration forms will be provided to you in the morning. Due to security restrictions, gifts will not be permitted in the auditorium, and must be presented to the White House Gift Office staff prior to entering the building. There will not be an opportunity to present gifts directly to the President. If you are planning to bring a gift, please allow for extra time for this process prior to entering the conference.

    For any additional questions, please contact us at

  • Improving Education for American Indians and Alaska Natives

    Today, the Obama Administration announced nearly $2 million in competitive grants to Tribal Education Agencies (TEAs) under the State-Tribal Education Partnership – or STEP – program.  During the Department of Education’s 2010 regional tribal consultations, tribal officials consistently expressed concerns about the lack of opportunities for Tribes to meaningfully participate in the education of their own children. The STEP Program is, in part, a response to those concerns, and provides funding intended to elevate the role of Tribal Education Agencies in providing a complete and competitive education to Native American students – in tribal schools as well as in public schools. 

    Under the STEP Program, for the first time ever, the Department is  awarding competitive grants to foster greater involvement of Tribal Education Agencies in the education of American Indian and Alaska Native  (AI/AN) students attending public schools. The great majority, some 92 percent, of American Indian and Alaska Native students attend public schools that fall under the jurisdiction of pertinent State and local educational authorities. The STEP Program will provide several Tribes with opportunities to meaningfully participate in the education of their children through increased formal collaboration with States. 

  • Fathers and Families Moving Forward in the Land of Enchantment

    The efforts to help dads be better dads got a big boost on August 10 at the second New Mexico Fatherhood Forum. Hosted by the New Mexico Alliance for Fathers and Families at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, this gathering highlighted the efforts of President Obama’s responsible fatherhood initiative and many others.

    The New Mexico Alliance brings together almost 20 organizations and agencies from around the state, in coordination with the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and the US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.  Led by Allan Shedlin, Crispin Clarke, Erwin Rivera, Esther Devall and others, the New Mexico Alliance continues to shine the spotlight on how government policies, community efforts and culture can all contribute to strengthening families through helping fathers.

    This is the second time interested parties from federal, state and local governments, civil society and others have gathered to highlight initiatives to help fathers.  Two years ago, we gathered in rural Valencia for the inaugural meeting.  Since then, the Alliance issued a comprehensive report of their recommendations and the New Mexico State Legislature passed a memorial designating August 10, 2012 as “New Mexico Fathers and Families Day.”  The theme continued to highlight the cultural traditions of Rural America, Hispanic and Native Americans.

  • Celebrating the Two-Year Anniversary of the Tribal Law and Order Act

    The Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) represents an important step in helping the Federal Government better address the unique public safety challenges that confront tribal communities.  As President Obama said when he proudly signed the act into law in July 2010, “It is unconscionable that crime rates in Indian Country are more than twice the national average and up to 20 times the national average on some reservations.”

    This week marks the two-year anniversary of the enactment of the Tribal Law and Order Act, and as implementation of the law continues, the Act is already improving the Federal Government’s ability to work with Indian tribes in the investigation and prosecution of crime impacting tribal communities.