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Success Stories

Council for Native American Farming and Ranching Begins Work

An intensive two day public meeting wrapped up earlier this week in Washington, D.C., as the recently appointed members of the Council for Native American Farming and Ranching met face-to-face for the first time.
The Council, appointed by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack as part of the Keepseagle settlement, is charged with making recommendations to improve access by Tribes to USDA programs and services. On the first day, members received extensive briefings from 17 agencies in the 7 USDA mission areas. On the second day, officers were elected, protocol issues were handled and the Council took two hours of public testimony.


Natural Resources/Range Manager of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes in Blackfoot, ID., Mark Wadsworth, speaking, was voted as the President of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Council for Native American Farming and Ranching (CNAFR) held at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012.

Check out the full story here

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Successful Community Development Brings Economic Opportunity, Fresh Food, to a South Dakota Tribe

Hunkpati Investments, Inc., serving the Crow Creek Reservation in Fort Thompson, South Dakota offered the visiting South Dakota USDA Rural Development State Director, Elsie M. Meeks and others, a tour of their new facility and an opportunity to buy fresh local produce at their farmer market.

Check out the full story here

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Alaska Mat-Su Valley Celebrates the Grand Opening of a new Native Primary Care Center

For most Americans, advanced health care facilities that can treat almost any kind of ailment are just a short drive away. But picture you or a loved one in your rural community enduring a life-threatening illness or injury, and having to travel extended distances for medical attention. Compounding the issue treacherous travel conditions during the winter months when remote roads are hazardous and sometimes closed due to weather.
Now completed a new Native health center in Wasilla means Alaska Natives living along the Parks and Glenn Highways will no longer have to make long 100 mile, round-trip drives to Anchorage to receive routine medical care.

RD State Director Jim Nordlund is joined by Katherine Gottlieb, President and CEO of the Southcentral Foundation
Alaska Rural Development State Director Jim Nordlund is joined by Katherine Gottlieb, President and CEO of the Southcentral Foundation at the ribbon cutting for the new health care facility

Check out the full story here

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Leveraging USDA Resources Has Positive Impact On Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Economy

I was honored to attend the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Annual Homebuyers Fair on June 20, 2012 in Sisseton, South Dakota. Although the previous evening and early morning rain saturated the ground, it didn stop the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate from having a successful event. June is homeownership month, and USDA Rural Development was on-site at the fair to remind rural residents of the opportunities to purchase, repair and refinance homes in rural areas.
In conjunction with the Homebuyers Fair, a tour of the Tribe Lake Traverse Reservation was held that included a variety of stops that highlighted the tribe infrastructure improvements. I was pleased to see that through the steadfast efforts of Tribal and USDA Rural Development staff, the tribe has successfully utilized many of Rural Development programs, including a recent $32 million direct Community Facility loan being used to construct the Tribe new Administration Building, slated for completion in June of 2013.

Check out the full story here

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USDA Support Helps Rosebud Sioux Tribal Community Construct a Key Building

A building that will stand against natural disaster for the safety of the Corn Creek District, Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota, is being partially funded through a grant from USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Economic Impact Initiative (EII). While providing a safe haven for the residents, the community building will also provide a space for health care and emergency services and a facility for community youth.
If a community building is going to offer so much in integral services for the area, it should also be energy efficient. The foam forms for the walls will be filled with concrete and will add greatly to the insulation and temperature control of the building.

Check out the full story here

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Successful Weatherization of Navajo Homes Made Possible with USDA Help

Though the morning could be cool, even pleasant at times, scorching heat was promised to each of the more than 250 volunteer students who signed up and traveled some more than 2,000 miles to Monument Valley, Utah, to work in the desert sun on Navajo homes.
Utah Rural Development State Director Dave Conine traveled to Monument Valley June 28 to view firsthand the nature of the project that attracts so many youth to southern Utah and has for the past 12 years. Group Cares is the faith-based nonprofit behind Workcamps that facilitates short-term humanitarian trips to repair houses within the United States and internationally. In Monument Valley, Navajo families receive desperately needed assistance in rehabilitating their weather beaten homes.

Two groups of volunteers worked to replace the roof
Two groups of volunteers worked to replace the roof and build a sturdy new porch with wheelchair ramp for a Navajo resident.

Check out the full story here

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USDA Highlights Efforts to Give Tribes the Tools to Improve Basic Services

When you woke up this morning, chances are you turned on a light, took a shower in your bathroom, brushed your teeth with running water and checked the Internet. For too many people in Indian Country, this simple daily process is currently unattainable. Services most Americans take for granted are not always available in Indian Country.
Last week, I joined other USDA officials in attending the National Congress of American Indians Convention in Lincoln, Nebraska. I discussed all of the remarkable progress that USDA and Secretary Vilsack have made when it comes to supporting Native Americans, especially those who live on reservations or trust areas.

Check out the full story here

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USDA Helps Improve Native Health Care in Rural Alaska

For most Americans, advanced health care facilities that can treat almost any kind of ailment are just a short drive away. But picture you or a loved one in your rural community enduring a life-threatening illness or injury, and having to travel hundreds of miles for medical attention. Compounding the issue are the often treacherous travel conditions during the winter months when remote roads are hazardous, and sometimes closed due to weather.
It no wonder that the community of Tazlina, Alaska, in the Copper River Valley, welcomed the recent groundbreaking ceremony for the Copper River Native Association new health care and administrative facility on a 10 acre site. The project is a joint venture between USDA Rural Development through a Community Facilities direct loan; U.S. Housing and Urban Development and the State of Alaska. This new facility will replace the existing 40-year old scattered site facilities that were originally slated to be decommissioned or demolished in 1985. The land has been provided by Ahtna, Incorporated, A Native regional corporation, on a 99 year lease.

Check out the full story here

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Rural Development Key Partnerships Promote Economic Development on the Pine Ridge Reservation

USDA Rural Development has a long history of collaboration with the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. Ie seen the power of these collaborations first-hand, both in my current role as Under Secretary for Rural Development, as well back in the 1990s when I had the opportunity to serve as Rural Development State Director in South Dakota.
I recently returned to the tribe Pine Ridge Reservation, accompanied by twelve Midwestern USDA Rural Development state directors. We traveled across the reservation, seeing both cultural landmarks and projects that have been impacted by USDA.

Check out the full story here

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Shovels of Gold Symbolic of New Fire Protection for the Residents of a South Dakota Reservation

While the shovels may have all been painted gold, they weren just bought off the shelf; some were used, donated, came in different sizes, and had different uses. It was a metaphor for the day as community members from the small community of Parmelee, South Dakota, located on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, gathered. A project started over four years ago, involving partnerships with ten different organizations/agencies to bring to fruition, broke ground recently on the long awaited, sought after fire hall.

Check out the full story here

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Creating Jobs and Investing in an Economy That Built to Last in Rural Oregon

With $5.4 million in USDA Recovery Act broadband funding, Warm Springs Telecommunications Company has constructed a state-of-the-art fiber and fixed wireless network that will eventually serve everyone on the 644,000-acre reservation with telephone and broadband. Until now, only about one-third of those living on the reservation had access to phone or Internet service.
Members of the Confederated Tribe of Warm Springs celebrate
Members of the Confederated Tribe of Warm Springs celebrate the start of a USDA funded project that will provide residents of the Reservation with Phone and Internet service.

Check out the full story here

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St. Regis Mohawk Tribe and Rural Development: A Historic Partnership

USDA Rural Development and St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Chiefs, Ronald Lafrance Jr, Randy Hart, and Mark Garrow came together to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) during the summer of 2011. The MOU will enable USDA to offer all SFH Programs on St. Regis Mohawk lands to include: Section 502 Direct, Section 502 Guaranteed Rural Housing, Section 504 Home Repair Loans and Grants and Self Help Housing. Rural Development will now be able to finance the construction of new homes, as well as the acquisition and rehabilitation of existing homes for low and moderate income families on the Akwesasne tribal lands.

Check out the full story here

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Tribal Colleges to Receive USDA Funding to Improve Classrooms, Upgrade Computer Equipment and Provide Jobs

Earlier today I announced on behalf of Secretary Tom Vilsack that 19 tribal colleges in nine states have been awarded grants through the USDA Rural Development Tribal College Initiative Grant program, part of our Community Facilities program. Funding will be used to upgrade Tribal college facilities and promote energy savings efforts.
Investing in Tribal educational facilities is key to increasing economic development in Native communities. These institutions and the students and faculty will benefit from funding that will enable them to provide enhanced educational opportunities and create jobs

Check out the full story here

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Bountiful Harvest for Area Youth

Whether it is youth midnight basketball tournaments or a writing class in the library, the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP), in Eagle Butte, South Dakota is always bustling; serving the youth of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation and community. In the fall however, the CRYP is even busier with fall harvest from their Winyan Toka Win Garden, a 1.5 acre naturally raised garden, which is a major component of their Sustainable Systems initiative.
Vegetables line the counters waiting to be processed and dried for meals to be served at the Center. Julie Garreau, CRYP Executive Director, states, ur young children and teenagers depend on us to be open after school and on Saturdays,Garreau said. or so many of them, the breakfasts and lunches they have at school and the afternoon snacks and hot evening meals we provide are their only reliable sources of food.

Check out the full story here

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Who Will Get the First Bath?

Recently, I had the pleasure to travel to the rural Alaskan communities of Kwigillingok, Kasigluk, and Pitkas Point.  The visit was made along with Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Administrator Jonathan Adelstein, Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund, and a few of our major program partners.  As with other trips, the site visits to these communities were a reminder of why the Rural Alaska Village grant program and other Rural Development programs are so vital to rural communities.
The water and wastewater conditions in these three villages and other Alaskan communities are staggering. Drinking water is hauled from local watering points, which clearly do not meet safe drinking water standards. Wastewater is hauled by utilizing honey buckets. The same path that kids play and walk to and from school, is the same route that individuals routinely walk with their five gallon buckets of wastewater to honey bucket transfer stations.

Check out the full story here

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USDA Rural Development Provides Support to Improve Medical Services to the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (MN)

The project will expand in-patient rooms, intensive care, labor and delivery, and dietary and physician clinic space. Perhaps most importantly, the addition will add a dialysis unit, which was welcome news to the nearby Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The tribe donated $200,000 toward the construction of the dialysis unit. No longer will tribal members and other area residents have to travel long distances to receive life-saving dialysis service.

Lake Superior Chippewa Ground Breaking

Members of the Fond du Lac tribe, USDA Rural Development staff, community leaders and hospital officials broke ground on a $27 million expansion and renovation project for Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet, MN.

Check out the full story here

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USDA Rural Utilities Administrator Visits Supai Tribe in Arizona to Announce a Recovery Act Broadband Project

Jonathan Adelstein, Administrator for USDA Rural Development Rural Utilities Service, joined Arizona Rural Development State Director Alan Stephens to announce a $2 million broadband grant for the village of Supai. The grant will be used to expand cellular coverage and internet access to Bar Four and the Supai Camp in Arizona. These enhancements will allow cell phone companies and internet providers to expand services for the Tribe. Funds are through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Check out the full story here

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Alaska Food Bank Expands with Help from USDA Rural Development

Working with the Alaska Rural Development staff, the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank obtained a Communities Facilities Direct Loan that will fund much needed upgrades and the expansion of the in-building Fireweed Diner, (formerly the Soup Kitchen) that provides about 21,000 meals a year to eligible local residents. The diner ventilation system, range and cabinets are all being upgraded.

Check out the full story here

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South Dakota Native American Teen Center Purchases Equipment with USDA Support

The Cokata Wiconi Teen Center was awarded a $135,000 matching grant through the Rural Development Community Facilities program in October 2010. The Center has recently completed its match requirement through donations from Running Strong for American Indian Youth, South Dakota Community Foundation, and private donations. The 26,000 square foot facility that houses the Teen Center includes a library, classrooms, computer lab, and commercial kitchen where the funds will be used to purchase furniture and equipment.

Check out the full story here: USDA Blogs

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An Alaska Native Corporation Uses Rural Energy For America Funding to Cut Power Costs

To further reduce operational costs following energy efficiency improvements in their facilities, Choggiung Ltd., a Native village for-profit corporation located in Dillingham, Alaska, researched renewable energy systems viable for severe weather conditions. After comparing various renewable energy alternatives, they selected a Proven 15kW wind turbine for the State Court House in Dillingham. The Native Corporation owns the building and leases it to the State.

Estimated to produce up to 44,468 kW annually, this wind turbine will displace a projected 65.7 percent of the annual consumption from the local utility at a cost savings of $15,000 to $20,000 per year. "With the $20,000 REAP grant award from Rural Development, this wind turbine will mark a new approach to sustainable business management and to renewable energy in Dillingham," stated Doug Calaway, CEO. "We not only look forward to our return on investment in 4 to 5 years, but we also look forward to evolving local education in energy systems and inspiring local officials to take similar actions for municipal facilities."

To find out how the REAP program can cut your power costs, click here.

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USDA Provides Recovery Act Funds to Bring Broadband to the Hopi Tribe and Navajo Nation

More than 7,000 rural residents in a remote area of Arizona will soon be connected to the world at large thanks to Recovery Act support from USDA Rural Development. The funds, provided through USDA Broadband Initiatives Program, will be used to run fiber optics from Holbrook (located west of the Petrified Forest National Park) to Jeddito, Arizona, bringing broadband to the Hopi Tribe and portions of the Navajo Nation, as well as other communities.

Check out the full story here:

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Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians and Partners Break Ground On a New Health Center and Multi-Family Housing

The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians of Maine will soon have a brand new state-of-art health center and six units of much needed affordable family housing, thanks to the Tribe own contributions and assistance from USDA Rural Development and partners. USDA Rural Development is providing a $1 million dollar Multi-Family Housing Rural Rental Housing Loan.



Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians Tribal Member Dayna Boyce performs a sacred blessing over the Maliseet tribal land. This is the site of the Tribes future Health Center.

Check out the full story here:

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USDA Rural Development Programs Benefit Bois Forte Tribe in Minnesota

The Bois Forte Tribe in northeastern Minnesota took a proactive approach toward economic development by forming a valuable partnership with USDA Rural Development in the mid-90s. Since then, USDA Rural Development has invested over $13.5 million throughout the Bois Forte community.




This tribal community center features a fitness center with equipment purchased using Rural Development financing. The fitness center is helping tribal leaders turn around a recent trend of obesity and diabetes in the community.

Check out the full story here.

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USDA Rural Development Financing Provides Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Government Center and Health Clinic, Creating or Saving Over 300 Jobs

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe of Mashpee, Massachusetts, was awarded a $12.7 million Community Facilities Recovery Act Direct Loan from USDA Rural Development on August 23, 2010. The loan will be used to construct a 46,000 square foot Tribal Government Center and Health Clinic.


Signing the loan: Picture (L-R) USDA RD Business and Cooperative Specialist Jennifer Lerch, Tribe Chairman Cedric Cromwell and Tribe Treasurer Mark Harding.

Check out the full story here.


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Thanks to USDA, Vision Becomes Reality for Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate

The Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (Sioux Tribe) of South Dakota conducted a groundbreaking ceremony on October 26, 2010, for the construction of a new administration building made possible through a USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Direct Loan in the amount of $31,200,000.

USDA Rural Development South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks speaks at a ceremony while Tribal Chairman Michael Selvage listens.

Check out the full story here.

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Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Telephone Authority-The First Indian Company to use USDA Loan Processes-Upgrades Telephone Service for Members

USDA Rural Development South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks recently awarded the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) Telephone Authority headquartered in Eagle Butte a $37.9 million USDA Telecommunication Infrastructure Loan to complete a total fiber to premises build out.

Pictured: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Elder, Ione Lee, USDA Rural Development South Dakota State Director, Elsie M. Meeks, and Delphine Red Fox, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Elder.


Check out the full story here

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Safe Transportation Provided for Children on the Reservation

The Head Start school bus, operated on the Skokomish Indian Reservation for over eight years, did not meet the safety features required by the Head Start Act. The bus was also a costly expense for the Tribe due to frequent mechanical breakdowns. Funding from USDA Rural Development Community Facilities Program, along with a 25% match from the Tribe, was utilized to purchase a new school bus. The bus provides the required safety restraints for young children. Service is now reliable and more affordable. The new bus provides service for the children on the reservation as well as Skokomish Tribal members that live in the communities of Union, Hoodsport, and Shelton.

During the summer months the bus will be used for youth programs that fill an important community need. Nearly all the children and their parents rely on this transportation to arrive at school in a consistent and timely manner. Providing reliable bus service allows the children and their parents the needed incentive to make school an easier choice. The Head Start program is vital for the social development of the Skokomish children and a critical stepping-stone for success in the public schools. The Skokomish Indian Tribe has expressed appreciation to the area Rural Development representative, Debbie Harper for her assistance in obtaining the necessary funds and stated, "Our children safety has been well served by the investment of Rural Development in this community."

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Groundbreaking Ceremony Held for Alaskan Native Regional Health Center

Dignitaries from the Southcentral Foundation, Alaska local and state officials and Senator Mark Begich hosted a groundbreaking ceremony marking the start of construction of a new primary health clinic to serve Alaska Natives in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and surrounding areas. The project was funded through a USDA Rural Development direct loan and a guaranteed loan and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.


Dignitaries from the Southcentral Foundation were joined by Alaska local and state officials, a representative from USDA Rural Development and Alaska Senator Mark Begich (7th from right) at a groundbreaking ceremony in Wasilla marking the start of construction of a new regional health care facility to serve Alaska Natives. Funding for the project was made possible through USDA and the Recovery Act.

Check out the full story here

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Last Modified:11/20/2014 
 
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