Native Village 
Youth and Education News

March 1, 2013

Secretary Vilsack Confirms Support for Tribes at Meeting with Tribal College Presidents
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Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently met with several of American's tribal college presidents and leaders from the American Indian Higher Education Consortium .  He expressed his commitment to support Tribes and strengthen the government-to-government relationship.

While USDA faces budget uncertainty, Vilsack noted that President Obama continues to work with Tribes to establish a “deeper, more meaningful” consultation process.

He also addressed the USDA’s plans to broaden the “Strike Force Initiative.” Strike Force sends USDA staff into areas of persistent poverty. The staff then helps people prepare applications for funds that will improve quality of life and promote opportunity.

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The initiative is already in use in the Southwest. The next targeted area is tribes in North and South Dakota.

American Indian Higher Education Consortium represents tribal colleges from across the Nation.  Butch Blazer, a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, is a Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. He says that under the Obama Administration “Indian education is being elevated. Higher education is creating the young tribal professionals that we need. There isn’t anything more important to me than education, because that will raise the bar in Indian Country.”

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Secretary Vilsack and Deputy Under Secretary Blazer expressed the need for more diversity

at USDA. Blazer, who is working on that effort in the Forest Service, says Tribal educators are key in providing the tools youngpeople need to prepare for government jobs.

He asked the college presidents to encourage Tribal members and “bright young people in your tribal colleges” to submit their names to the Department to serve on boards and commissions.

The Tribal College Presidents have a strong relationship with USDA.  Indian Country consists of over 72,000,000 acres.  75% of it is agriculture or forestry based.

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