Highlights and Milestones of the Native American Programs Act

By Jeannie Hovland, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Native American Affairs, ACF Commissioner, Administration for Native Americans

Emerging from the importance of Native American self-sufficiency, the Native American Programs Act of 1974 (NAPA) was enacted into law on January 4, 1975 and placed community members at the heart of lasting, positive change. This legislation launched the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) and contains our guiding principles which helps promote the goals of economic and social self-sufficiency for federal and state recognized tribes, American Indian and Alaska Native organizations, Native Hawaiian organizations and Native populations throughout the Pacific Basin (including American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands).

As I shared in a previous blog, I had the distinct privilege of testifying before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs back in February on NAPA’s 45th anniversary. During my testimony, I explained some of the achievements of tribes that have received ANA grants. Now, I want to highlight milestones ANA achieved along the journey, as well as current ANA resources communities can apply for to help achieve desired goals and ambitions.

ANA’s grant funding opportunities are popular and highly competitive. In the current fiscal year, ANA received more than 200 applications for funding across our five program areas. Our current grant portfolio includes 187 projects across the Unites States and the Pacific territories. Some of these program areas include:

  • ANA promotes self-sufficiency in communities through Social and Economic Development Strategies (SEDS) grants, which support community-based projects that increase the ability for Native Americans to define and achieve their own economic and social goals.
  • The Esther Martinez Immersion program supports the development of culturally and linguistically vibrant Native American communities. These projects revitalize Native languages to ensure survival and continuing vitality for future generations.
  • The Native Language Preservation and Maintenance program supports the planning, designing, restoration, and implementing of Native language curriculum and education projects.
  • The Environmental Regulatory Enhancement program provides tribes with resources to develop legal, technical and organizational capacities for protecting their natural environments.

One of the unique things about NAPA is that it calls for the ANA Commissioner to be a “visible and effective advocate for Native Americans within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies.” And so, the Secretary’s Intradepartmental Council on Native American Affairs (ICNAA) was added to NAPA to promote the highest quality health, social, and economic well-being of AI/AN/NA people by working with HHS leadership on policies, programs and initiatives for Native Americans. As Commissioner, I chair the ICNAA, and I value the importance of working in collaboration. Additionally, I serve in a dual role as Commissioner and as Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS) for Native American Affairs at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). In this role, the DAS affirms the government-to-government relationship between the ACF and Indian tribes.

This month will mark one year since my confirmation by the U.S. Senate as the 7th Commissioner for ANA. In the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Nations, seven is an important number; the Oceti Sakowin, or Seven Council Fires, signifies that we are united by sharing one common fire. Seven commissioners with seven visions united through one common goal: to make a positive difference in the lives of those we serve. It is with deepest gratitude and respect that I’d like to acknowledge and recognize the previous commissioners:

  1. David Lester, served from 1978-1983, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation
  2. Lynn Engles, served from 1983-1989, a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin
  3. Tim Wapato, served from 1989-1993, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation
  4. Gary Kimble, served from 1994-2001, a member of the Fort Belknap Indian Community,
  5. Quanah Stamps, served from 2002-2008, a member of the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah
  6. Lillian Sparks-Robinson, served from 2010-2016, a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe

Forty-five years after Congress passed NAPA, ANA has had the privilege to witnessing Native communities move from surviving to thriving. We appreciate ANA’s funded projects, which have allowed us to be part of the journey and see firsthand communities uniting to create job opportunities, revitalize and restore their native languages and strengthen the environment and natural resources on their lands.

We look forward to continuing and building the next 45 years of ANA grants, initiatives and projects to help the next seven generations ahead of us.

The Administration for Native Americans is a program office within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. To learn more about how ANA can assist your community, visit www.acf.hhs.gov/ana.

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