News Release
Release No.STELPRD4022355
WASHINGTON, Nov 13, 2013 --


Jay Fletcher (202) 690-0498

USDA Celebrates Native American Heritage Month: Vilsack Highlights Support for Native Americans

Michigan’s Bay Mills and Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community Colleges Each Receive $125,549

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today commemorated Native American Heritage Month and recognized USDA programs that strengthen Native Americans and their communities.

“This month, USDA is highlighting its support for Native Americans and the Department’s longstanding partnership with Tribes and tribal members,” Vilsack said. “We take great pride in our work to help Native Americans start and expand businesses, buy homes, improve community infrastructure and preserve their land and culture. During Native American Heritage Month, it is particularly fitting to recognize the important contributions Native Americans have made and continue to make on behalf of this great nation.”

Vilsack noted that USDA support for Native Americans and their communities is yet another reminder of the importance of Farm Bill funding to a spectrum of USDA programs across rural America. He said a comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy, and that’s why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done now.

USDA provides a vast array of funding and technical assistance to help Native Americans and their communities. For instance, during fiscal year 2013, USDA Rural Development’s Electric Programs invested $275 million – an historic high – to bring new and improved electric infrastructure to more than 80,000 Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

Through its Community Facilities program, USDA Rural Development invested $114 million in 73 loans and grants during Fiscal Year 2013, representing a 600 percent increase over Fiscal Year 2012. This illustrates that increasingly, USDA is becoming the lender of choice for many Tribes throughout the country. Of this funding, 24 grants ($3 million) were provided to land grant Tribal colleges and universities.

Secretary Vilsack also today announced the selection of 24 Tribal colleges for grants to upgrade infrastructure and make other improvements. View the list of recipients. Each award is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.

Michigan has two recipients.

Bay Mills Community College in Chippewa County will receive $125,549 to make repairs to the exterior of the Administration building, and to classrooms.

    Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College in Baraga County will receive $125,549 to renovate the former hospital in L’Anse and convert it to the college’s main campus.

In addition, USDA Rural Development recently announced that the Sault Saint Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is receiving a $38,309 Housing Preservation Grant to rehabilitate 20 homes.

President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users)