President Obama today unveiled his fiscal 2015 budget request to Congress. The budget proposal calls for approximately $3.9 trillion in federal government funding and fully funds contract support costs at $251 million – a $4 million increase over the fiscal 2014 enacted level.
The president’s budget request for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education is $2.6 billion – a $33.6 million increase above the fiscal 2014 enacted level.
The budget proposes $11.9 billion in discretionary spending for the Department of the Interior; an increase of 2.4 percent above the fiscal 2014 enacted level. The request calls for $7.8 million, an increase of $3.4 million, for the San Juan Conjunctive Use Wells and San Juan River Navajo Irrigation Project Rehabilitation, both part of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.
The budget request includes $395.4 million in total resources for public safety initiatives in Indian Country under the Department of Justice, including $35 million for Indian Country Community Oriented Policing Services grants and $46.1 million for Office of Violence Against Women Indian Country programs.
The request for the Indian Health Service is $4.6 billion. Included in the budget request for IHS is $200 million for Health Care Facilities Construction.
The Housing Improvement Program funding is reduced by $12.6 million.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly will provide testimony on the Navajo Nation’s fiscal 2015 budget request before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies in April.
NGS Power Plant Fundamentals School considered one of the best in energy industry
LeCHEE, Ariz. – The Navajo Generating Station will soon be hiring.
NGS is now seeking qualified applicants for its seven-week-long Power Plant Fundamentals School, the first step to becoming a full-time entry-level NGS employee.
The application period is now open until March 14.
Also known as the Operations & Maintenance 1 School, NGS wants bright, ambitious and eager men and women to apply. Applicants need to be at least 18 years old, be ahigh school graduate or have a GED certificate, have a valid driver’s license and be able to pass a background check.
Within the last 10 years, one of the youngest applicants was 19 and today is a control room operator. Others range from veterans to college graduates with experience in other fields.
The common trait among successful candidates is dedication, focus and the ability to learn a lot of required material within a short period of time.
“Completing the O&M 1 School carries with it a certain respect here at NGS,” said NGS Senior Human Resources Technician Linda Dawavendewa. “It lends to a safer, knowledgeable employee and definitely leads to a career at SRP through other training programs including the SRP Apprenticeship Program.”
Successful completion of the O&M 1 School is required training to continue employment at NGS. The class is tough and has been equated to a two-year college course packed into two intense months.
Course work involves 10 hours a day of classroom lectures and fieldwork. Testing is weekly.
The course outline alone is 50 pages long. It includes sections on every aspect of the power plant’s parts, equipment, procedures, operations and safety; from electron theory to the railroad that delivers coal, from physics to the properties of superheated steam, from the Federal Reclamation Act of 1902 to the history of why NGS was built where it is on the Navajo Nation.
Graduates find that the course leads to a meaningful career with Salt River Project, operator of NGS and a premier provider of electricity.
The youngest member of a recent class, Myron Deel of Kaibeto who was 20 when he applied, said he heard about the school from an ad.
“I read about it in the newspaper, the Navajo Times, and my parents told me I should give it a shot,” said Deel, now an employee in the Maintenance Dept.
Joseph Claw, a 34-year-old former Marine from Chilchinbeto, said he felt driven to complete the course.
“It definitely helped that I was self-motivated,” he said. “Every one of us was self-motivated, otherwise we wouldn’t be here right now.”
Omar Moreno of Tucson said it took five years to follow his father-in-law’s advice to apply to the school. He said because he had a job at a car dealership, he felt no need to try. Then the economy bottomed out, he said.
“I was a mechanic before and it’s real unstable out there,” he said. “You can sit at the shop for 10 hours and only make two hours worth of work.”
Like the other graduates with families, Moreno says he’s relieved to have completed the school, set himself up for a career, and prepared the path for his family of five for a better life.
Graduates are assigned to work in the Operations, Maintenance or Heavy equipment/Railroad department. Even after graduation, training continues for another five weeks with Operations School, O&M I training, Smith Driving School and other regulatory training.
Course applicants with training through the military, trade school or college – whether two year or four year programs – are usually well-prepared to successfully complete the challenging school. Mechanical, electrical, maintenance and/or construction experience is often helpful but not necessary.
SRP accepts resumes and applications only electronically. The online system is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
The recruitment process begins by applying online at www.srpnet.com/careers; O&M Specialist I, Requisition N-6965, 24 positions. Application period closes March 14.
Applications will be reviewed and a test invitation and schedule will be sent to the applicant. Testing ends on March 28.
Applicants must pass both the O&M aptitude test and the physical agility test.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.— More than 30 tribal leaders, juvenile court judges, child advocates, juvenile justice system experts and community members from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community testified today in the second public hearing of the Advisory Committee of the Attorney General’s Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence. The hearing focused on how juvenile courts and other programs within tribal juvenile justice systems address the impact of children’s exposure to violence.
“Too many native children encounter violence in their homes and communities that can disrupt a path to living healthy adult lives, and we must do all that we can to protect these young people,” said Associate Attorney General Tony West. “By intervening early, we can help these children avoid a fate involving courts and the corrections system.”
During the hearing, experts explained how children entering tribal, state or federal justice systems are screened and treated for trauma from previous exposure to violence. They also discussed a variety of issues facing Native children in juvenile justice systems, including the availability of legal representation, tribal court transfer of juvenile cases to adult courts, culturally sensitive programs and services that divert youth from entering the juvenile justice system.
“The long-term impact of a child’s exposure to violence depends heavily on how law enforcement officials, prosecutors, defenders, judges, and corrections professionals handle that child’s case,” said Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Justice Programs Karol V. Mason. “Through the work of the task force, we hope to find ways to make the justice system a force for positive change in a young person’s life.”
The Attorney General’s Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children exposed to violence is comprised of a federal working group that includes U.S. Attorneys and officials from the Departments of the Interior and Justice and an advisory committee of experts on American Indian studies, child health and trauma, victim services and child welfare and law.
The 13-member advisory committee is co-chaired by former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan and Iroquois composer and singer Joanne Shenandoah. The advisory committee will draw upon research and information gathered through public hearings to draft a final report of policy recommendations that it will present to Attorney General Eric Holder by late 2014.
Attorney General Holder created the task force in April 2013 as part of his Defending Childhood initiative to prevent and reduce children’s exposure to violence as victims and witnesses. The task force is also a component of the Justice Department’s ongoing collaboration with leaders in American Indian and Alaska Native communities to improve public safety.
The advisory committee held its first public hearing Dec. 9, 2013, in Bismarck, N.D. and will hold additional public hearings, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Anchorage, Alaska.
For more information about the advisory committee and public hearings, please visit www.justice.gov/defendingchildhood.
The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has six components: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking. More information about OJP can be found at www.ojp.gov.
Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, Ariz.
Thank you, Senator Dorgan. I’m very pleased to be here with you, Ms. Shenandoah, and all the members of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence. And thank you, President Enos, for your support and partnership in hosting this public hearing of the Advisory Committee. Your remarks will resonate throughout the hearing today and your hospitality is greatly appreciated.
I want to recognize the United States Attorneys who are with us today: Judge [John] Leonardo from the District of Arizona, John Walsh from the District of Colorado, Steven Yarbrough from the District of New Mexico, Mike Ormsby from the Eastern District of Washington and Amanda Marshall from the District of Oregon.
And my thanks goes out to all of the U.S. Attorneys here for making the journey to join us today and for the leadership they are providing in their districts.
And let me extend my appreciation to Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn. Kevin, thank you for your presence and for your agency’s invaluable partnership with the Department of Justice.
I’d also like to acknowledge some of my Department of Justice colleagues who traveled with me from Washington – from the Office of Justice Programs, Mary Lou Leary, Bob Listenbee, and Jim Antal; from our Office of Tribal Justice, Tracy Toulou; and joining me from my office are Anna Martinez and Cindy Chang. I’m very glad they could be here today.
And a special “thank you” to our witnesses and speakers. We’re grateful for your participation, and we look forward to hearing your insights and experiences.
We’ve come together today – from communities throughout the southwest and from across the country – to address a serious and urgent problem: the problem of violence and its effect on American Indian and Alaska Native children.
We know that more than 60 percent of all children in the United States are exposed to some form of violence, crime, or abuse, ranging from brief encounters as witnesses to serious violent episodes as victims. Almost 40 percent are direct victims of 2 or more violent acts.
And for our children who are American Indian and Alaska Native, current research doesn’t give us a complete picture of its scope, but we know that they native are particularly vulnerable to encountering violence and trauma. A 2008 report by the Indian Country Child Trauma Center calculated that native youth are two-and-a-half times more likely to experience trauma when compared with their non-native peers.
We know from our work in Indian Country that rates of crime and violence in some tribal areas are alarming, and we know that often it is children who see it, children who experience it, children who live with it.
Today’s hearing, the second of four, is part of the larger work President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have pursued to fulfill this nation’s trust responsibility to American Indians, to invest in Native communities, and work in partnership with sovereign tribal nations and Alaska Native communities to address the unique and persistent challenges they face.
And over the last four years we’ve made important progress:
Almost 1,000 grant awards to tribes totaling nearly $440 million over the last four years to improve public safety in tribal communities;
Our partnership with tribes to make sure they have the assistance and legal leverage they need to protect native women;
Our work to improve the safety of tribal communities by prosecuting more cases in Indian country — up by more than 50 percent in the last four years.
And this hearing in particular grows out of the work that Attorney General Holder began three years ago with a new initiative he called “Defending Childhood.” The goal of Defending Childhood was to improve our knowledge about what works to reduce children’s exposure to violence and how to lessen the long-term adverse impacts of that exposure when it does occur.
And as part of that effort, as many of you know, the Attorney General appointed a national Task Force – co-chaired by my colleague Bob Listenbee – to identify ways to reduce children’s exposure to violence and to recommend policy changes at the federal level to meet that goal.
One of those recommendations was to create a special effort aimed at examining and addressing the exposure of American Indian and Alaska Native children to violence, in ways that recognize the unique government-to-government relationship between sovereign tribal nations and the United States — a special effort that is embodied in this Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence.
Now the Task Force is different from most Washington blue ribbon panels you may have heard about.
First, it’s structure is different. It’s comprised of two groups. The first is a Federal Working Group consisting of knowledgeable, high-ranking federal officials from the Departments of Justice, Interior and Health and Human Services — folks like Kevin Washburn, Tracy Toulou, Amanda Marshall, Tim Purdon and Leslie Hagen — names many of you know well because they work with tribal communities every day.
And their charge is to cut through the organizational red tape that can sometimes bind our best efforts and work together to fix those things affecting native youth that we already know are broken — things that we’ve long ago identified as problems that need attention — and to pool resources, information and energy across our different agencies to take immediate action that will have a positive impact on kids’ lives right now.
So over the last several months, this group has facilitated the delivery of educational services in BIA juvenile detention facilities; coordinated wrap-around services for child victims of crime who come in contact with the federal judicial system; improved judicial training opportunities on the Indian Child Welfare Act; and so much more.
The second part of the task force is the group meeting here today – the Federal Advisory Committee. Now, their job is to improve our understanding of native children’s exposure to violence and develop a strategic plan of action that will guide practitioners and policymakers at all levels. They began their field work in December, when they held their first hearing in Bismarck, North Dakota.
And here in Salt River, we will continue to explore this issue and to look for solutions. Our goal today is to look specifically at the juvenile justice system and the role juvenile courts and detention facilities – at the tribal, state, and federal level – can play in supporting native children who have been exposed to violence.
Sadly, we know that the road to involvement in the juvenile justice system is often paved by experiences of victimization and trauma. The rate of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for Indian youth is almost triple the rate of the general population and is comparable to the rates of PTSD among soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The last thing we want is for our tribal, state, and federal juvenile justice institutions to be part of a tragic cycle of victimization and violence. So we must make sure that our juvenile facilities are agents of positive change, not enablers of more self-destructive choices.
But we also have to talk about how we can work with tribes to figure out the best ways we can lessen the experiences of victimization and trauma experience by native youth in the first instance. We have to explore approaches that recognize what’s different about native youth; approaches that recognize that, according to the CDC, suicide is the second leading cause of death among American Indians/Alaska Natives aged 15- to 34-years and is 2.5 times higher than the national average for that age group;
Approaches that reflect an awareness about historical trauma — an awareness about efforts to eliminate native culture such as forced relocation, removal of children who were sent to boarding schools, prohibitions on the practice of native language and cultural traditions, and the outlawing of traditional religious practices — historical trauma that has affected multiple generations of First Americans;
Approaches that reflect the reality in which our native youth are living.
Something we were reminded of just yesterday, when we met with 15 members of the Youth Council here — young, bright, intelligent individuals, nearly all in high school and college-bound; individuals who are taking on leadership roles in their communities and who will be the next generation of leadership not just for their tribes but beyond as well.
By a show of hands, we asked them how many of them had a family member who had gone to college. Only three hands went up.
And when we asked how many of them knew someone who had died from suicide. Every hand was raised.
We can do better than that. We can reverse those numbers. And more important, those young people? They believe they can reverse those numbers. They believe that we can reverse the tide of despair and change history’s course.
So I left that meeting feeling hopeful and confident about the work we’re doing – all of us – together, and committed to working even harder to reduce violence in our tribal communities. Those young people aren’t giving up. And if they’re not giving up, we’re not giving up.
This work won’t be easy – and answers will not come quickly. Indeed, we are looking not for the easy answer, but for long-term solutions – systemic solutions that will make a difference for our children.
Let us reaffirm our commitment to the safety and health of tribal communities. And let us rededicate ourselves to giving native children a future unclouded by violence and brightened by hope. This is the responsibility of every one of us.
Thank you for your commitment to this work.
Today, the President directed his Administration, working through the White House Rural Council, to lead a new ‘Made in Rural America’ export and investment initiative. This initiative is charged with bringing together federal resources to help rural businesses and leaders take advantage of new investment opportunities and access new customers and markets abroad.
Specifically, the President has instructed his Rural Council – in coordination with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, the Export-Import Bank, the Office of the United States Trade Representative, and other agencies – to commit to connecting more rural businesses of all types to export information and assistance through a comprehensive strategy including the following specific commitments, to be provided over the next nine months:
- Host five “Made in Rural America” regional forums dedicated to promoting rural exports by providing rural leaders and businesses with information about federal and other resources available to help expand exports. Working with local partners including the National Association of Counties (NACo), the Delta Regional Authority, and the Appalachian Regional Commission, these export-focused regional forums will help rural businesses take advantage of new market opportunities by providing training from experienced exporters and federal officials on the basics of exporting, accessing federal support, and participating in major trade events and trade shows across the country, as well as overseas trade missions.
- Convene an “Investing in Rural America” conference later this year to connect major investors with rural business leaders, high-level government officials, economic development experts, and other partners. This conference, hosted by the White House Rural Council in coordination with the Department of Agriculture and other partners, will promote opportunities to invest in Rural America by highlighting successful projects in energy; biofuels and bioproducts; infrastructure, from transportation to water systems to telecommunications; healthcare; manufacturing; and local and regional food systems.
- Host training sessions to equip local USDA Rural Development staff in all 50 states plus territories with the tools they need to counsel businesses on export opportunities and resources. The Department of Commerce, through the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee, will cross-train USDA Rural Development staff so they can better deliver support or refer rural businesses to federal services.
- Provide enhanced export counseling for rural businesses to connect with foreign buyers through the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Export Assistance Center trade specialists in over 100 domestic locations and in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s field staff.
- Coordinate across the Administration to promote rural-produced goods and services at trade events including trade missions, buyer programs, trade shows, and other promotion programs.
- Educate local leaders across the country on the importance of rural exports in partnership with NACo and through the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee in order to connect these leaders with federal resources and information to better support rural businesses to develop their potential for exporting.
- Use the BusinessUSA online platform to better connect rural businesses with export and investment resources and coordinate support from across the federal government. BusinessUSA was launched by the President last year to serve as a “one-stop-shop” that matches businesses and entrepreneurs to the full range of services and resources available to them at every stage of development.
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).
Pilot Projects Allow Tribal Prosecution of Non-Indian Abusers For the First Time in More Than Three Decades
WASHINGTON – Three American Indian tribes – the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, the Tulalip Tribes of Washington, and the Umatilla Tribes of Oregon – will be the first in the nation to exercise special criminal jurisdiction over certain crimes of domestic and dating violence, regardless of the defendant’s Indian or non-Indian status, under a pilot project authorized by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013).
“This is just the latest step forward in this administration’s historic efforts to address the public safety crisis in Indian country,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “Every day, we’re working hard to strengthen partnerships with tribal leaders and confront shared challenges – particularly when it comes to protecting Indian women and girls from the shocking and unacceptably high rates of violence they too often face. With the important new tools provided by the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013, these critical pilot projects will facilitate the first tribal prosecutions of non-Indian perpetrators in recent times. This represents a significant victory for public safety and the rule of law, and a momentous step forward for tribal sovereignty and self-determination.”
Although the provisions authorizing the special jurisdiction take effect generally in March 2015, the law also gives the Attorney General discretion to grant a tribe’s request to exercise the jurisdiction earlier, through a voluntary pilot project. The authority to approve such requests has been delegated to Associate Attorney General Tony West. Associate Attorney General West today congratulated tribal leaders on this historic achievement in letters to the three tribes.
“The old jurisdictional scheme failed to adequately protect the public – particularly native women – with too many crimes going unprosecuted and unpunished amidst escalating violence in Indian Country,” stated Associate Attorney General West. “Our actions today mark a historic turning point. We believe that by certifying certain tribes to exercise jurisdiction over these crimes, we will help decrease domestic and dating violence in Indian Country, strengthen tribal capacity to administer justice and control crime, and ensure that perpetrators of sexual violence are held accountable for their criminal behavior.”
Since the Supreme Court’s 1978 opinion in Oliphant v. Suquamish Indian Tribe, tribes have been prohibited from exercising criminal jurisdiction over non-Indian defendants. This included domestic violence and dating violence committed by non-Indian abusers against their Indian spouses, intimate partners, and dating partners. Even a violent crime committed by a non-Indian husband against his Indian wife, in the presence of her Indian children, in their home on the Indian reservation, could not be prosecuted by the tribe. In granting the pilot-project requests of the Pascua Yaqui, Tulalip, and Umatilla tribes today, the United States is recognizing and affirming the tribes’ inherent power to exercise “special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction” (SDVCJ) over all persons, regardless of their Indian or non-Indian status, for crimes committed on or after Feb. 20, 2014.
As described in the Department of Justice’s Final Notice on the pilot project, today’s decisions are based on a diligent, detailed review of application questionnaires submitted by the tribes in December 2013, along with excerpts of tribal laws, rules, and policies, and other relevant information. That review, conducted in close coordination with the Department of the Interior and after formal consultation with affected Indian tribes, led the Justice Department to determine that the criminal justice systems of the Pascua Yaqui, Umatilla, and Tulalip tribes have adequate safeguards in place to fully protect defendants’ rights under the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, as amended by VAWA 2013.
The Department of Justice is posting notices of the pilot-project designation on the Tribal Justice and Safety Web site (www.justice.gov/tribal/) and in the Federal Register. In addition, each tribe’s application questionnaire and related tribal laws, rules, and policies will be posted on the Web site. These materials will serve as a resource for those tribes that may also wish to participate in the pilot project or to commence exercising SDVCJ in March 2015 or later, after the pilot project has concluded.
For more information on VAWA 2013, please visit www.justice.gov/tribal/vawa-tribal.html.