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The ANA Messenger - Spring Edition

Published: June 6, 2013
Audience:
Social and Economic Development Strategies (SEDS), Environmental Regulatory Enhancement
Types:
Newsletter

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Commissioner's Insight

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We hope you are enjoying Wetú - The Moons of Renewal and Growth (which in Lakota is similar to the Spring), a time of rebirth and renewal for Mother Earth.  As we experience this time of year, our ceremonies and traditional activities that take place during this time, we are thankful to our ancestors for teaching us the importance of being good stewards of our land, our Mother, and treating her with care and respect. The theme of the Messenger this spring is Tribal Governance and Environment.  Many of our articles relate to these two topics.  Additionally we have events taking place over the last quarter and the quarter going forward which fit nicely into Governance and Environment.  Please see the descriptions below.

Tribal identity, culture, and traditions are intimately tied to the land and animals. For example, many eastern Tribes have kinship systems (clans) named after animals (wolf, bear, turtle, etc.), and in the Southwest, for the Dine, the traditional way to introduce yourself is to name where you were born, your clans, and your parents and grandparents. The connection to the land is strong in Native cultures, and desecration of the land is felt spiritually. Tribes most often seek to exert their sovereignty in the area of natural resource utilization and protection.  In this issue of the ANA Messenger we recognize Tribal Governance and environment projects.

Since 1990, ANA has supported Tribes and Tribal consortia with funding to strengthen Tribal government capacity to identify, plan, develop and implement environmental programs. The Environmental Regulatory Enhancement (ERE) program is designed to bolster regulatory efforts in a manner that is consistent with a Tribe's cultural preservation and natural resource management priorities.  What is unique about ERE, is funding is restricted to entities having control over their land or other natural resources, generally this includes federally or state recognized American Indian or Alaska Native Tribes.

ANA is currently funding 12 ERE projects in Tribal communities.  We look forward to reviewing and funding more ERE projects, as well as those from our SEDS and Language program areas, as our Fiscal Year 2013 funding opportunities for these areas closed June 6, 2013.

For the last two funding cycles, ANA has held a separate competition for Tribal Governance projects.   During this time we have been able to fund 22 projects ranging from constitutional revisions, formation of public utilities departments, to strategic planning for recreational facilities. 

Similar to many ERE projects that improve tribal codes or ordinances, tribal governance grants strengthen the capacity of Tribes, but their impact are sometimes difficult to quantify or are experienced on a longer term, less immediate timeframe. It was for this reason that we held a separate competition, and we look forward to hearing back from communities both at impact visits in the next couple of years, but also in the future about the difference this capacity building has made for your citizens. Tribes and organizations may still apply for Tribal Governance projects this year within the broader Social and Economic Development Strategies program.

May is recognized as both Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month and National Foster Care Month.  ANA is recognizing these national observances, both the tremendous contributions of our Pacific Islander partners and the great need there is for licensed foster care families for native children.  In this edition of the Messenger, we are featuring some of our Pacific Island grantees and in Getting to Know Us, you will meet a special Technical Assistance Provider from our Pacific region, Napua Harbottle. 

We are also including the President’s Proclamation in honor of National Foster Care Month.  Readers will see a very timely article on the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), as we await a Supreme Court decision on Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl.  Several staff from ANA attended a prayer circle on the morning of April 16th, as the Supreme Court prepared to hear oral arguments in the case.  Two articles in the Messenger deal directly with the ICWA case, both written by Camille Loya, discussing why ICWA is important in one article and Camille’s contributions to the Talking Stick.  The Messenger also highlights a Pacific Islander family preservation project which included foster licensing. 

As many of you may be aware, June is National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month.  You will see an article in Community in the News by Harlan Pruden.  Harlan is nationally recognized for his research into health disparities experienced by the Two Spirit/LGBT populations.  If you are unaware of the challenges faced by Two Spirit community members and/or their traditional place in many of our native communities, please read Harlan’s article titled, Gathering of Two Spirit People.  In a demonstration of Tribal sovereignty the Little Traverse Band of Odawa Indians in Michigan now allow for same sex marriage. The Tribe is the third to vote on this. The Coquille Tribe in North Bend, Oregon, began recognizing the same-sex unions in 2009, while the Suquamish Tribe in Suquamish, Washington, followed suit in 2011. 

Many native people across our nation joined in recognizing and celebrating the international event known as Earth Day, celebrated on April 22nd.  Our native communities have celebrated and acknowledged the importance of Mother Earth far before this was an international focus.  We didn’t wait until pollution and poor land stewardship practices had created what seem to be irrevocable consequences.  We have included an article under Grantee in the News, describing one of our grantee’s efforts to draw attention to our water.  Please see Mississippi River Water Walk

This past March President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act.  This is inclusive of specific Tribal considerations, also supporting our topic of Tribal Governance.  Please see our VAWA update.

We hope you benefit from this issue of the Messenger where we highlight our ERE and Tribal Governance grants and resources.

Wopila, 

Lillian A Sparks

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