a message from Raina Thiele

whitehousebannerGood afternoon,In this update, you will learn about some of the ways in which President Obama and his Administration continueto address the interests, concerns, and needs of the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) community.Please visit us online to learn more about the White House Office of Public Engagement, the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and the White House’s work with the Native American community. Please encourage your friends and colleagues to sign up for updates!

Best regards,

Raina Thiele
Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement
The White House

President Obama Engages Native Youth at My Brother’s Keeper Town Hall

On July 21, President Obama hosted a town hall session featuring the My Brother’s Keeper  initiative. He announced new commitments in support of MBK and engaged in dialogue with young boys and men of color. Youth from the Center for Native American Youth’s Champions for Change program, the Native American Political Leadership Institute’s INSPIRE Initiative, and the Navajo Nation attended the town hall and asked the President about the Administration’s work to support Native American language and cultural preservation.

The President reaffirmed his commitment to Native American youth and the importance of honoring one’s roots. Discussing his trip to the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in June, the President applauded the tribe’s work on Lakota language revitalization and remarked about the powerful stories he heard from the tribe’s young people.

Click here to learn more about the recent My Brother’s Keeper town hall.

My Brother's Keeper town hall

Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience Announces Tribal Climate Resilience Program

On July 16, the White House State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience held its fourth and final meeting. In an effort to help tribes prepare for climate change, the Administration announced its new Tribal Climate Resilience Program. As part of this initiative, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will dedicate $10 million in funding for tribes and tribal organizations to develop tools to enable adaptive resource management, as well as the ability to plan for climate resilience.

Additionally, the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency will partner to create a new subgroup on climate change under the White House Council on Native American Affairs. This subgroup will share data and information and coordinate Administration efforts to assist tribes in climate resilience and mitigation efforts.

Click here to learn more about the Administration’s Tribal Climate Resilience Program.

AmeriCorps Expands Presence in Tribal Communities

As part of President Obama’s commitment to Indian Country, AmeriCorps announced $3 million in grants to support Native American communities. These funds will increase the number of AmeriCorps members serving tribal communities by 41 percent. In total, these 17 tribal grants will support more than 250 AmeriCorps members serving with tribal organizations in 13 states.

Click here to learn more about AmeriCorps expansion in tribal communities.

The President and First Lady’s Historic Visit to Indian Country

On June 13, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in Cannonball, North Dakota for the President’s first visit to Indian Country since taking office. Accompanied by the First Lady, the President met with Native American youth, tribal leaders, and attended the tribe’s annual Flag Day celebration where he spoke to Indian Country.

“My Administration is determined to partner with tribes, and it’s not something that just happens once in a while,” the President said. “It takes place every day, on just about every issue that touches your lives. And that’s what real nation-to-nation partnerships look like.”

Also on June 13, the White House released a fact sheet on economic development and education, including a blueprint for reforming the Bureau of Indian Education.

Click here to learn more about the President’s June 2014 trip to Indian Country.

Click here to watch the highlights.

The President attends the Cannon Ball Flag Day Powwow.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attended the Cannon Ball Flag Day Powwow in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on June 13, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Statement by the President on the Passing of Billy Frank, Jr.

On May 5, President Obama released a statement on the passing of Billy Frank, Jr.:

I was saddened to learn of the passing of Billy Frank, Jr. — Chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and a member of the Nisqually Indian Tribe. Billy fought for treaty rights to fish the waters of the Pacific Northwest, a battle he finally won in 1974 after being arrested many times during tribal “fish-ins.” Today, thanks to his courage and determined effort, our resources are better protected, and more tribes are able to enjoy the rights preserved for them more than a century ago. Billy never stopped fighting to make sure future generations would be able to enjoy the outdoors as he did, and his passion on the issue of climate change should serve as an inspiration to us all. I extend my deepest sympathies to the Nisqually Indian Tribe, and to Billy’s family, and to his many friends who so greatly admired him.

Click here to read the President’s statement.

White House Council on Native American Affairs Update

On May 1, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell convened a successful third meeting of the White House Council on Native American Affairs. Seven Cabinet Secretaries and senior officials discussed ongoing progress and current priorities aimed at working more collaboratively and effectively with American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes to advance their economic and social goals.

Among the topics discussed were promoting sustainable Tribal economic development; supporting greater access to and control over healthcare; improving the effectiveness of the Tribal justice systems; expanding and improving educational opportunities for Native youth; and supporting sustainable management of Native lands, environments, and natural resources.

The meeting was concluded with a discussion of the group’s preliminary findings and recommendations for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education.

Click here to learn more about the May White House Council on Native American Affairs meeting.

White House Council on Native American Affairs meeting

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell convenes the third meeting of the White House Council on Native American Affairs, May 1, 2014. (U.S. Department of the Interior)

Stay Connected

Breaking News: Cargill Releases New Palm Oil Pledge!

We are moving mountains.Today, after seven years of nonstop pressure from RAN, agribusiness giant Cargill – the largest importer of palm oil into the U.S. – made a major new pledge to root out and remove deforestation, species extinction and human suffering from its palm oil supply chains.

This is a major milestone as Cargill has long resisted change, even in the face of strong public outcry and bold action by its competitors. You have bombarded Cargill with petitions, creative acts of nonviolent civil disobedience, saturated the company’s hometown of Wayzata, MN with ads exposing Cargill’s role in orangutan extinction, rainforest destruction, child labor and human rights abuses and pressured its customers – the Snack Food 20 – to cut Conflict Palm Oil from its products.

Cargill is now committing to build a traceable and transparent palm oil supply chain and is seeking compliance from its suppliers to end egregious practices such as the destruction of rainforests and peatlands and the exploitation of Indigenous Peoples, workers and local communities.

Thanks to your hard work and continued pressure, Cargill is on the move!

As we know, the devil is truly in the details. It is too early to tell if Cargill will successfully transform itself from its current business model into a trusted supplier of responsible palm oil. Crucial details, including an ambitious deadline to cut Conflict Palm Oil, an implementation plan, and details on the independent oversight that will be used to ensure outcomes for forests, peatlands, and the communities whose lives depend on them are still missing.

Cargill must address the critical gaps in its new pledge. We need your help. Tell Cargill that we are watching its next steps and demanding that the company cuts Conflict Palm Oil for good.

We need you to tweet today!

TWEET THIS–> Hey @Cargill, fix the gaps in your new #palmoil pledge! via @RAN http://a.ran.org/sm

Cargill is the largest privately held corporation in the world and the largest importer of palm oil into the United States. An enormously powerful agricultural company that influences almost every aspect of our food supply, its business lines touch every level of palm oil production, trade, refining and marketing as it moves palm oil from producers to end consumers. This breakthrough shows that by pressuring Cargill’s customers, the Snack Food 20, we are driving reforms throughout the global palm oil supply chain and broader food system.

Cargill’s new pledge is untested. Rest assured, we will hold Cargill to account, starting with demanding that it addresses the critical gaps in its new commitment and stops buying Conflict Palm Oil from controversial companies.

To keep the action going on Cargill and the Snack Food 20 that uses their Conflict Palm Oil join RAN’s Palm Oil Action Team!
Ashley Schaeffer
Palm Oil Campaigner

Congress still hasn’t passed a Veteran’s Health Bill …


Last month, after 100,000-plus veterans, military family members, and VoteVets supporters acted, the United States Senate passed Bernie Sanders’ Restoring Veterans’ Trust Act by a vote of 93-3.

The bill promises to increase the number of doctors and nurses at VA facilities while authorizing spending to lease twenty-seven additional clinics. These are important steps Congress should take right now in order to improve short and long-term care for our nation’s veterans.

So, why hasn’t it gotten to President Obama’s desk yet?

The short answer is that several Tea Partiers in the House and Mitch McConnell’s Senate Caucus are trying to gum up the works and stall until Congress goes on their five week recess this Friday.

Can you imagine? Veterans are dying, and some Members of Congress are counting down the clock to their extended vacation.

Tell Congress: Pass the Sanders legislation to improve the veterans’ health care system before you adjourn for a five-week “August Recess.”

The good news is, a bipartisan deal between House and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairmen was announced just yesterday.

Leave it to Congress to wait until the last minute, but it looks like this bill could get to President Obama by week’s end.

But in Washington, D.C. you never know, so let’s make sure they hear from us before skipping town.


If no action is taken by Thursday morning, we’ll deliver signatures from every veteran, military family member and VoteVets supporter who has signed on in support of Senator Sanders’ bill.

This is important,

Jon Soltz
Iraq War Veteran and Chairman

Some Senators won’t like this ad

Sign Now

Her ex pounds furiously on the door. A child screams inside. She frantically dials 911. In less than a minute, she’ll be dead from a gunshot.

That’s the scene depicted in the new television ad we’re airing across the country today to raise awareness of the crisis of gun violence against women.

In an average month in the United States, 48 women will die in scenes like this — shot dead by an intimate partner.

The ad is going to attract plenty of attention, but we need your help to make sure enough people see it to dial up the pressure on the Senate. We need our senators to make the right call on an important bill that’ll help keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and stalkers.

Can you chip in $15 right now to make sure our hard-hitting ad makes it into as many homes as possible through the end of this week?

Here are some of the shocking facts you need to know about guns and domestic violence:

  • On average, women in the U.S. are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high-income countries.
  • More than half of women killed by guns in this country are killed by their intimate partners.
  • The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed.

With our brand new TV ad, we’re going straight to the public — everyday supporters like you — to encourage our senators to pass laws that’ll reduce these numbers and save women’s lives.

Every dollar helps expand the TV ad buy and reach more people, increasing the effectiveness of our message. Please pitch in now with a donation of $15 or more:


Thanks for helping us get this important message out there,

Brina Milikowsky
Director of Strategy & Partnerships
Everytown for Gun Safety

July 30th is a big day for millions of working families in New York City!

Dear Friend,
July 30th is a big day for millions of working families in New York City!  Today, workers are eligible to start using the sick time they have accrued under the NYC Earned Sick Time Act, if they have been with their employer since the law went into effect on April 1, 2014.  A Better Balance worked closely with legislative officials to draft and strengthen this new law.  It covers nearly 1.2 million workers who previously had no sick time and ensures that 3.4 million workers in the private sector now have a legal right to sick time.  That means that employers cannot deny workers sick time they have earned or retaliate against workers for taking that time to care for themselves or family members.
Now we have to make these new rights a reality on the ground!  Could you take a moment today to spread the news by forwarding this to your networks or telling workers you know who may be in need of the law’s new protections?  Please tell workers to call ABB’s legal hotline at 212-430-5982 if they have questions about the law or problems related to the need for sick time.  ABB can provide confidential advice and free legal representation and can take calls in English and Spanish.
And when you spread the word, please tell workers that the Earned Sick Time Act gives them the right to take up to 40 hours of sick time per year to care for their own health or the health needs of a child or other family member.  Most employers will have to pay workers for the time, and all covered workers are protected against retaliation. Please see ABB’s one-page flyer (also available in Spanish) and webpage for workers on the law.
We’d also be grateful if you or anyone you know could distribute our materials on the law to organizations, community centers, etc. in your own community.  To find out how you can get involved, or if you have any questions, please call ABB at 212-430-5982 or email sicktime@abetterbalance.org.  
As always, thank you for all your support,
Sherry, Dina, Phoebe, Jared, Elizabeth, Liz, Risha, Rachel & Morenike