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DHS Continues Engagement with Tribal Nation Partners

Philip McNamara
Assistant Secretary, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs

The Department of Homeland Security is committed to preserving strong nation-to-nation relationships with the 566 federally recognized tribes in the United States. During the month of November, the Nation recognizes the contributions of Native Alaskans and American Indians. Therefore, there is no better time to share some of the efforts of the Department’s tribal affairs personnel. The work of the Department’s tribal liaisons continues to strengthen these relationships, and are a vital supplement to DHS’s efforts in consulting and collaborating with Indian tribes as sovereign nations.

DHS had a significant presence at the National Congress of American Indians’ (NCAI) 71st Annual Conference that took place October 26th – 31st. During the conference, senior leadership from numerous DHS components met with tribal leaders and staff, where they shared priorities and programs with the tribes and participated in a homeland security discussion with tribal leaders from across the country. The discussion covered border crossing, subsistence food security, transportation security, tribal homeland security grant funding, Operation Stonegarden, and tribal identification.

Some highlights:

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supported NCAI’s emergency management discussion group and shared an overview of the Stafford Act emergency and major disaster declaration request process. FEMA discussed its newly implemented tribal consultation policy and distributed a new tribal resource titled FEMA and Tribal Nations: A Pocket Guide, which provides tribes with a reference guide to several federal disaster assistance programs and key points-of-contact.
     
  • The Transportation Security Administration addressed tribal leaders of the Human, Religious and Cultural Concerns Subcommittee on security screening of cultural objects, cultural training, and tribal language access.
     
  • Together, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection discussed border security, tribal law enforcement interests, tribal-department agreements, economic security, and treaty rights.
     
  • Tribal leaders engaged in a robust dialogue and shared stories of collaborative anti-human trafficking efforts between Indian Country and the DHS Blue Campaign.

These efforts are a great supplement to DHS’s nation-to-nation collaboration with our tribal government partners and we look forward to continuing these relationships in the future.

To learn more about DHS’s engagement with our tribal partners, I encourage you to visit http://www.dhs.gov/office-intergovernmental-affairs-1

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