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November is Native American Heritage Month, but every day is an opportunity to learn more about the ethnic and cultural groups with roots that date back thousands of years here in this land that became the United States.
As President Barack Obama said in a November 2012 proclamation:
“As the first people to live on the land we all cherish, American Indians and Alaska Natives have profoundly shaped our country’s character and our cultural heritage.”
This week, DOE held a celebratory event recognizing contributions Native Americans have made to this country and to DOE’s mission. The keynote speaker was Patty Talahongva, a veteran journalist and member of the Hopi tribe.
Talahongva is a founding member of the Hopi Education Endowment Fund and past president of the Native American Journalists Association.
Also during the event, Senior Advisor for Environmental Management David Huizenga spoke about EM’s ongoing relationships with tribal groups across the country. EM has cooperative agreements with more than a dozen tribes throughout the U.S. near various EM field sites. Huizenga emphasized his personal commitment to visit with the tribes on their lands and in their communities to better understand their values, cultures and concerns.
“As we in EM continue our mission and shrink our (nuclear cleanup) footprint, we need to ensure that we are actively engaging Tribal nations and providing them with ample opportunity to help shape the future of those sites,” Huizenga said.
Huizenga noted that EM will hold a second high-level dialogue with tribal leaders in December to discuss improving meaningful government-to-government consultation to work together to achieve cleanup at EM sites while ensuring that critical tribal rights and interests are protected.
Other DOE guest speakers at the Native American Heritage Month event included David Conrad, director of Tribal and Intergovernmental Affairs; Pilar Thomas, deputy director of the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs; Dot Harris, director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity; and Jody Tallbear Cabrera, attorney-advisor in the Office of Civil Rights.