February 03, 2022
Today, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Sen. Alex Padilla (D-California) in a letter to the Biden-Harris administration calling for the creation of an interagency task force of urban Indians that would identify the needs of urban populations. Native Americans and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) and implement strategies to support Native Americans living in urban settings.
“In light of the goals you set out in the Biden-Harris Plan for Tribal Nations, specifically to ensure that urban AI/ANs receive “quality health care, culturally appropriate education, adequate housing and affordable and other necessary resources,” we urge the administration to form an urban Indian inter-agency task force to identify the critical needs of urban AI/NA populations and develop strategies to implement real change that uplifts people. urban AI/AN”, write the Senators.
Today, approximately 70% of AI/AN people reside in urban cities as a direct result of the federal government’s assimilation policies as well as the efforts of tribal members seeking educational and employment opportunities in the urban areas. However, urban AI/AN populations continue to be excluded from many federal initiatives. The creation of an interagency working group would help identify federal funding strategies to better meet the needs of urban RNs/NAs, advance the development of a wellness-focused framework to inform health, build support for traditional practice-based healing approaches, improve Urban Confer policies of health and human services and associated agencies, and ensure that urban Indian organizations can meet regularly with federal agencies to discuss issues relevant concerns. The senators requested that the administration ensure that the task force includes urban Indian organizations and federal agencies tasked with serving urban Indian populations.
The letter led by Sen. Padilla is signed in addition to Sen. Van Hollen by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D -Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Mark Kelly (D-Arizona), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
The full text of the letter is available here and below:
Dear President Biden and Vice President Harris:
Thank you for your early commitment to ensuring the health and well-being of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) residing in urban communities. In light of the goals you set out in the Biden-Harris Plan for Tribal Nations, specifically to ensure that urban AI/ANs receive “quality health care, culturally appropriate education, adequate housing, and affordable and other necessary resources,” we urge the administration to form an urban Indian inter-agency task force to identify the critical needs of urban IA/AN populations and develop strategies to implement real change that elevates IA / AN urban.
Today, about seven in ten AI/AN people reside in urban cities as a direct result of the federal government’s assimilation policies as well as the efforts of tribal members to seek educational and employment opportunities in the urban areas. Despite the excellent efforts of Urban Indian Organizations (UIO) to provide health care, housing, employment and other essential services, the urban populations of AI/AN nevertheless continue excluded from many federal initiatives.
We are committed to advocating to Congress for increased funding and parity for UIOs. That is why we have introduced and are framing legislation through Congress to improve services provided to urban IA/NA populations. As we continue to move these efforts forward, the establishment of an interagency Urban Indian Task Force to identify needs and develop strategies to better serve urban IA/AN populations would prepare Congress and the administration to defend and allocate federal resources more appropriately where they are needed. more. We hope that this working group, at a minimum:
- Identify existing federal funding supporting UIOs and determine where increases are needed, where funding is totally lacking, and what programs should be modified to allow for greater access to UIOs;
- Develop a federal funding strategy to build and coordinate the infrastructure needed to pilot innovative programs and scale successful programs that address the needs and aspirations of urban IA/NA holistically;
- Develop a framework focused on wellness (as opposed to disease prevention) to inform health services that considers a food-as-medicine framework to inform nutrition and food security programs;
- Strengthen support for practice-based evidence of traditional healing approaches;
- Develop Urban Confer policies at HHS and associated agencies, as well as the VA; and
- Meet quarterly with UIOs to address other relevant issues.
To ensure that the task force’s efforts are productive, we urge you to include Urban Indian organizations and agencies charged with serving urban Indian populations that are housed within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, US Department of Housing and Urban Development, US Department of Agriculture. , US Department of Justice, US Department of Education, US Department of Veteran Affairs, Department of Labor, the Small Business Administration, the Economic Development Agency, FEMA, US Conference of Mayors, and others as identified by Indian organizations urban.
Thank you for your commitment to better serve urban AI/AN populations. By working together, we believe we can make a real difference in the lives of the 2.8 million IA/ANs who reside outside their tribal government territories.