Blog Posts Related to the Native American Community

  • Celebrating the One Year Anniversary of Let’s Move! in Indian Country

    First Lady Plants Garden with Native American Children

    First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a Garden Harvest Event with children and members of the American Indian community, in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn of the White House, June 3, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

    Over the past year Let’s Move! in Indian Country has worked with stakeholders across the country to help connect communities, schools and tribal leader to resources, funding, trainings and programs that will help improve the health of the next generation.  As a key component of the First Lady’s comprehensive initiative Let’s Move!, the Let’s Move! in Indian Country program focuses on the unique hurdles that American Indian and Alaska Native youth must overcome to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  In the first year, we have seen considerable progress and the First Lady and the Administration remain committed to building towards the ultimate goal of ending the epidemic of childhood obesity in Indian Country within a generation. 

    In order to recognize this progress and the great work of leaders across Indian Country, the White House will host a panel discussion of individuals whose work has helped build a healthier future American Indian and Alaska Native youth in one or more of the four pillars of Let’s Move! in Indian Country:

  • Addressing Violence Against Native Women in the Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization

    Last week, the House Judiciary Committee considered legislation to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  However, the bill that came out of the House Judiciary Committee failed to include a key provision which has already been accepted by the Senate on a bipartisan basis and is essential to protecting Native American women.  

    Since 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been an essential tool in helping to protect victims of domestic and sexual violence.  Since the passage of the Act, annual incidents of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent. Over the years, Congress has continued its commitment to addressing violence against women by working with advocates, law enforcement officials, court systems, and victims in order to build on what we have learned and make improvements to the Act in each subsequent reauthorization.  This was recently demonstrated by the Senate’s VAWA reauthorization bill (S. 1925), introduced by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) which  passed last month with strong bipartisan support. 

    The Leahy-Crapo VAWA reauthorization bill addresses many pressing issues facing all victims of domestic violence, including those in Indian Country.  Rates of domestic violence against Native women in Indian Country are now among the highest in the United States and the Leahy-Crapo bill directly confronts this epidemic.    

  • Native American CDFI Representative to be Featured in the White House Summit on Financial Capability and Empowerment

    On May 10, 2012, Tanya Fiddler will join leaders from states, cities, organizations, businesses and other communities to highlight their work and focus on the financial empowerment of all Americans.  Tanya serves as the Executive Director of the Four Bands Community Loan Fund, a Native American Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota.  Native American CDFI’s have been established to overcome barriers to financial services that often exist in Indian Country through two specific strategies.  First, through training and education tailored to tribal communities and second, through program funding and resources that increases the number of Native CDFI’s and improves their capacity.

  • A Solid Record of Achievements for Indian Country

    President Obama and Kimberly Teehee

    President Barack Obama talks with Kim Teehee, Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs, in the Oval Office, April 26, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Some people may be surprised to learn that this blog is my last from the White House. Earlier this year, I decided to move on to new endeavors but I am heartened that I leave my position in good hands as my successor will continue to fulfill President Obama's commitment to address the many important issues facing Indian Country.

    Words cannot fully capture the joy and privilege of working for President Obama and his Administration as the first Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council. There are actually several firsts in this Administration. Hilary Tompkins (Navajo Nation) is the first Native American Solicitor of the Department of the Interior. Dr. Yvette Roubideaux (Rosebud Sioux Tribe) is the first woman Director of the Indian Health Service. Tracie Stevens (Tulalip Tribes) is the first woman Chair of the National Indian Gaming Commission. President Obama's commitment to addressing the many issues facing Indian Country put in motion a widespread standard of action that is reflected in his Administration's record of Native American accomplishments, and these appointments ensuring greater representation of Native Americans in his Administration provide just one example. I've had the great honor of working with every Cabinet agency to develop and implement our policy initiatives and legislative proposals. And working together, we have achieved much -- though we know more remains to be done.

  • 63,000 Native Americans to be Impacted if Congress Fails to Act

    Yesterday, the President delivered remarks at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and continued his call for Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. 

    If Congress doesn’t act, interest rates will double on July 1 for more than 7.4 million students with subsidized federal Stafford Loans. Approximately 63,000 Native American borrowers would see their loans increase. To out-educate our global competitors and make college more affordable, Congress needs to stop the interest rate on these student loans from doubling.

    This announcement is one of a series of steps that the Administration has taken to make college more affordable and to make it even easier for students to repay their federal student loans. The Obama Administration’s “Pay as You Earn” plan enables 1.6 million current students to take advantage of a new option to cap student loan repayments at 10% of monthly income when they start repayment, as soon as this year. Graduates currently in repayment can cap their payments at 15% of income right away.  Borrowers looking to determine whether or not income-based repayment is the right option for them should visit

    Now, President Obama is calling on Congress to put forward legislation to stop interest rates from doubling. For the estimated 63,000 Native American borrowers it would mean an estimated average savings per borrower of $873 over the life of the loan and an estimated total savings of over $55 million. Keeping interest rates on student loans low would allow more Americans to get: a fair shot at an affordable college education, the skills they need to find a good job, and a clear path to the middle class.

    And, the President is asking all borrowers to help make sure Congress acts, saying:

    … I’m asking everyone else who’s watching or following online -- call your member of Congress. Email them. Write on their Facebook page. Tweet them -- we’ve got a hashtag. Here’s the hashtag for you to tweet them:  #dontdoublemyrate. All right?  I’m going to repeat that -- the hashtag is #dontdoublemyrate.  

    ... Your voice matters. Stand up. Be heard. Be counted. Tell them now is not the time to double the interest rate on your student loans. Now is the time to double down on smart investments that build a strong and secure middle class. Now is the time to double down on an America that’s built to last. 

    Read more about President Obama's proposals to keep college affordable for students and their families.

  • White House Releases Synopsis Report of the 2011 White House Tribal Nations Conference

    At the White House Tribal Nations Conference on December 2, 2011, President Obama, joined by Cabinet Secretaries and senior Administration officials, met with leaders from all federally recognized tribes for the third consecutive year to continue to strengthen the relationship between the United States government and tribal governments. During his remarks to the assembled leaders the President proclaimed this is “the moment when we stopped repeating the mistakes of the past, and began building a better future together, one that honors old traditions and welcomes every Native American into the American dream.”

    Today we are releasing a Synopsis of the Conference to continue to facilitate the ongoing dialogue between the Administration and tribal leaders.

    In his remarks during the closing session of the Conference, President Obama emphasized his Administration’s record and the important relationship built between Tribal Nations and the Administration over the last three years, stating that it is a “relationship that recognizes our sometimes painful history, a relationship that respects the unique heritage of Native Americans and that includes you in the dream that we all share.”  The President and his Administration are committed to working with tribal leaders to develop and implement a policy agenda to achieve a brighter future for tribal governments and the people they serve.

    During the Conference, representatives from federal agencies and many others also participated in break-out sessions to engage with tribal leaders about other initiatives and programs they would like to see the Administration take up.  These break-out sessions focused on:

    1. Creating Jobs and Growing Tribal Economies
    2. Promoting Safe and Strong Tribal Communities
    3. Protecting Natural Resources and Respect for Cultural Rights
    4. Improving Access to Healthcare, Education, Housing, Infrastructure and Other Federal Services
    5. Strengthening the Government-to-Government Relationship

    Also at the 2011 Conference the President announced the signing of Executive Order No. 13592 entitled, “Improving American Indian and Alaska Native Educational Opportunities and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities.” As President Obama said, “We have to prepare the next generation for the future.

    Over the past three years, the Obama Administration has worked tirelessly to overcome the most difficult problems facing tribal governments and the Conference highlighted many of these initiatives. The President signed into law the permanent authorization of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, to ensure Native Americans have access to quality health care, and the Tribal Law and Order Act, to enhance public safety in Indian Country.  In June 2011, the First Lady launched Let’s Move! in Indian Country to promote health and well-being among Native American youth. Additionally, the President is continuing to work to make our government-to-government relationship stronger, by supporting legislation to recognize the authority of tribal courts to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence or those who violate protection orders in Indian Country, regardless of whether the perpetrator is Indian or non-Indian. The President has also repeatedly called on Congress to pass legislation to reaffirm the authority of the Secretary of the Interior to take land into trust for all federally recognized Indian tribes following the Supreme Court’s Carcieri v. Salazar decision.

    Because Native Americans face unemployment and poverty rates that are far higher than the national average, the Administration is continuing to work to find solutions to promote economic growth in Indian Country. The President’s commitment to this goal was reflected in his blueprint for an America built to last, including an economy built to last for Indian Country, which he laid out in his 2012 State of the Union address. This commitment has also been reflected in many of the Administration’s economic development efforts already underway like the recent White House Rural Council Roundtable on Native American Agriculture and Food.

    These actions are concrete examples of the Administration’s commitment to addressing the major issues of concern to Indian country that also underscore U.S. support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. As President Obama has made clear, he expects his Administration to be held to a standard of action like that demonstrated by the work of these agencies.

    Marking another important milestone in strengthening the government-to-government relationship between the federal government and Indian tribes, on April 11, 2012, the Department of Justice and Department of the Interior announced several settlements of tribal trust fund lawsuits. This litigation has imposed significant burdens on both the federal government and tribes, and in some cases, has cast a shadow over our relationship. Like the resolutions of the Cobell case, the Keepseagle case, and the Osage tribal trust case, these settlements help lift this shadow, and allow us to move forward together in the spirit of renewed cooperation.

    These last three years mark a turning point for relations between Indian Country and the U.S. Government. While the United States has made great strides in Indian Country, much remains to be done. The President spoke about these strides in his remarks to the Conference, stating, “We’ve got to finish what we started. So today, I want to thank all of you for everything that you do. I want to ask you to keep going. And when you go back home, making your communities better places to live, I want you all to know that you’ve got a partner in Washington. You have an administration that understands the challenges that you face and, most importantly, you’ve got a President who’s got your back."

    We thank all who participated in the 2011 White House Tribal Nations Conference and we look forward to future collaboration as we continue to build on the President’s actions and continue to bring real change to Indian Country.

    Click here for more information about this Administration’s record in Indian Country.

    Kimberly Teehee is the Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs in the White House Domestic Policy Council.

  • Strengthening DOL’s Interactions with Sovereign Tribal Nations

    Ed. Note: This piece is cross-posted from the Department of Labor's Official Blog.

    Yesterday, the Department of Labor published in the Federal Register a proposed tribal consultation policy. This will create a formal process through which the department will engage in consultation with federally recognized tribes on actions or policies that will have significant impact on tribal nations. 

    I am pleased that this day has come.  Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis directed me to create a team here at the department to draft a document that solidifies the department’s commitment to meaningful government-to-government relationships between the department and sovereign tribal nations.  Over the last year, the team has conducted multiple listening sessions with tribal leaders across the country to solicit feedback.

    Secretary Solis Meets with the National Indian Youth Council

    Secretary Solis meets with the National Indian Youth Council, a DOL Division of Indian and Native American Programs grantee in Albuquerque, NM (Photo courtesy of the Department of Labor).

  • Let’s Move! In Indian Country – Tell Us Your Stories

    Since coming into the White House, First Lady Michelle Obama has made the promotion of a healthier America one of her primary goals. Through her Let’s Move! initiative, the First Lady has dedicated her time to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation, so that children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams.  May of 2012 will mark the one year anniversary of Let’s Move! In Indian Country which brings together federal agencies, local communities, nonprofits, corporate partners, and tribes in order to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in Indian Country within a generation.