For Immediate Release
February 28, 2019
Contact: Ned Adriance
202.228.6870 | firstname.lastname@example.org| @SenatorTomUdall
VIDEO: Udall Presses Administration for Native Americans Commissioner on Climate Change, Speaks with Tribes about Cultural Impacts of the Native American Programs Act
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, joined Chairman John Hoeven (R-N.D.) in leading a committee oversight hearing entitled, “45th Anniversary of the Native American Programs Act and the Establishment of the Administration for Native Americans.”
“[The Native American Programs Act] plays an important role in supporting community-driven projects designed to grow local economies, strengthen Native languages, and bolster the environmental protection efforts of Tribal governments,” Udall said in his opening statement.
The committee heard from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA) Commissioner Jeannie Hovland, Pueblo of Acoma Governor Brian Vallo, Yurok Tribe Chairman Joe James, and Passamaquoddy Tribal Councilman Joseph Socobasin.
During questioning, Udall pressed Hovland to use her position within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as co-chair of the Intradepartmental Council on Native American Affairs (ICNAA) to review the Department’s efforts to address the public health impacts of climate change on Native communities.
“In November 2018, HHS collaborated with 12 other federal agencies to produce the Fourth National Climate Assessment,” Udall noted. “The report found that climate change increasingly threatens Americans’ health and well-being, particularly vulnerable populations and many Tribal communities.”
In response, Hovland committed to engaging with the ICNAA to review the public health impacts of climate change on Tribes.
During the hearing, Tribal leaders spoke about their Tribes’ successful use of ANA grants to improve their own Tribal programs and help strengthen their communities’ cultural roots.
James sang a traditional song in the Yurok language to express the important role the California condor plays in the Tribe’s culture, further underscoring the impact the Tribe’s ANA grant has had on the reintroduction of the species to their community. Vallo added that Acoma’s ANA grant for language revitalization “has rooted itself in Acoma in a very significant way… it’s initiated a conversation, and it’s initiated a very critical thought process internally about our inherent responsibility around language and culture.”
“I think we covered some good ground today, and we’ve realized the benefits of ANA’s grant programs,” Udall concluded.
Earlier this month, Udall led the New Mexico congressional delegation’s introduction of the Esther Martinez Native American Languages Programs Reauthorization Act, which would update and reauthorize the ANA’s two Native language grant programs.
Last Congress, Udall convened an oversight hearing on Native languages revitalization efforts where Hovland testified.