Nation to Nation Meeting Very Successful
STILLWATER, Okla. – Even with the meeting held virtually, an appreciation of heritage, a responsibility for today and a drive for tomorrow was the feeling that filled the 2020 “Nation to Nation” Tribal Consultation ZOOM Meeting, hosted on Aug. 18, 2020 by the Oklahoma Tribal Conservation Advisory Council (OTCAC), and the Oklahoma leadership for the agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
This year marked the 9th consultation and it is always a truly special event with all of Oklahoma’s sovereign tribes invited to attend.
Held virtually this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event represented a government-to-government meeting of the sovereign nations within Oklahoma and the top state-level executives of USDA’s individual agencies and mission areas. This annual event provided us with an opportunity to engage with tribal leaders and administrators from across Oklahoma, seeking to identify ways that USDA can better serve tribal governments and tribal members.
“This consultation, whether in person or virtual, is always very significant,” said Gary O’Neill, Oklahoma Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist. “The Nation to Nation consultation event is a great way to share successes and discuss things USDA can improve on. This consultation leads to stronger and more effective partnerships between Tribes in Oklahoma and USDA.”
The 2020 meeting showcased the conservation accomplishments of our Oklahoma Tribes, USDA agencies and our conservation partners across Oklahoma.
The webinar opened with Jason Burwell of the Chickasaw Nation offering the traditional prayer and playing the traditional song on flute. Pearl Thomas sang the National Anthem in her Muscogee Creek Language. The Rural Development Tribal Success Stories included Ronnie Jones sharing about the Choctaw Nation Water Project and Brian Wiles about the Cherokee Nation Success with Rural Economic Development. The NRCS Tribal Success Stories included Marissa Fahrig of the Modoc Nation discussing their Seasonal High Tunnel and Jack Hicks, Choctaw Producer, speaking about Advance Payment opportunity.
In the afternoon sessions, the Farm Service Agency Tribal Success Story included Tribal Producer Success with FSA Farm Loans and Cherokee Producer Bobby Stamps.
“We realize that protecting natural resources and preserving the land for future generations is a major priority among American Indian Tribes,” said USDA-NRCS Tribal Liaison Dr. Carol Crouch. “Tribal governments and each tribe’s agricultural producers are encouraged to apply for USDA’s special incentive programs. USDA administers safety net programs that include farm loans, disaster and emergency programs, price support programs, as well as various crop insurance options.”
Dr. Crouch added, “USDA also administers a number of programs that provide resources to tribal governments, in addition to individual members of a tribe. Tribal governments have access to USDA resources to help build a variety of infrastructure: housing, water, sewer, hospitals, fire and police, schools, and libraries.”
The meeting was a great success and Justin Neely of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation offered the closing prayer.
A recording of the webinar is available via YouTube below:
Planning is already underway for next year’s meeting in Sulphur at the Chickasaw Nation’s Artesian Hotel and we would like you to save the dates of August 17-18, 2021 to join us.
All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All Service Center visitors wishing to conduct business with the Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), or any other Service Center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service Centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors may also be required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. Our program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with our producers in office, by phone, and using online tools. More information can be found at farmers.gov/coronavirus.