Anchorage, AK, Apr 09, 2012 -- USDA-Rural Development Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund today announced the first Tribal Collaboration Meeting will take place on Friday, April 13 at the Yupiit Piciryarait Cultural Center in Bethel. Leadership from several federal agencies will meet with elected leaders from Alaska tribal governments in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The meetings are in response to a memorandum signed by President Obama directing federal agencies to engage in regular and meaningful consultation and collaboration with tribal officials.
The USDA-led plan entails face-to-face collaborations with tribal leaders to share information on federal programs and services for rural Alaska, and discuss relevant topics for their communities. The meetings will be held in local communities throughout the various regions of Alaska.
The next two meetings are scheduled for Friday, April 27 at Old Saint Joe’s Hall in Nome; and on Friday, May 4 at the Ketchikan Indian Community in Ketchikan. A website has been created to provide on-going information about this project at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/AKTribalBlog.html.
“Collaboration with Alaska’s 229 federally recognized tribes in their local areas is a considerable undertaking, but we feel this is the best way to understand the needs of Native communities. It presents an opportunity to seek their advice and provide answers to their questions on federal programs and services,” said Nordlund. “It’s our hope to strengthen the government-to-government relationship between tribal leaders and the federal government; provide an overview, by topic, of certain federal programs that have an effect on tribes; and engage in constructive dialogue, respond to questions and solicit ideas regarding federal programs,” added Nordlund.
The consultation discussions will be focused on five topics:
• Food production, availability and nutrition
• Rural housing
• Land management programs of Natural Resources Conservation Service and Forest Service
• Rural utilities (electric, telecom, solid waste, sewer and water)
• Rural economic and community development
Five USDA agencies will participate in the meetings, including Rural Development, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Forest Service, and Food and Nutrition Service.
Additionally, five other federal agencies with similar programs will be represented, including: Department of Housing and Urban Development, Small Business Administration, Economic Development Administration, Department of Energy and the Denali Commission.
USDA Farm Service Agency Executive State Director Danny Consenstein said, “Food security is a big issue in our rural areas. Not only are fish and game important, but growing more local produce can create jobs, healthier food, and more self-sufficient communities. I’m excited to talk with and learn from tribal leaders about this important topic.”
"I look forward to participating in the collaborations and hearing directly from tribal leaders about what they need and expect from federal agencies. It will be an opportunity to explain our programs and the assistance we can provide,” said Bob Jones, State Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
For more information, please contact Tiffany Zulkosky at USDA-RD (907) 543-3858, or firstname.lastname@example.org.