The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) held its special emphasis program in observance of American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month on November 29, 2018.
The observance was a time to celebrate the contributions, achievements, sacrifices, cultural and historical legacy of the original inhabitants of what is now the United States. This year's national theme, "Sovereignty, Trust, Resilience", symbolizes the contributions of Native Americans to the prosperity and strength of our nation.
Tribal Nations are Central to DOE’s Mission
The DOE has a large footprint in Indian Country – several of our sites are very near to tribal lands. Many tribes are neighbors to DOE and are greatly impacted by our activities.
Energy development is a top priority for many tribal nations which have abundant energy resources.
In addition, 2,000 native scientists, engineers, and technical staff work in DOE labs. The DOE’s Los Alamos National Lab was named a 2017 “Best Places to Work for Native STEM Professionals” by the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.
For all these reasons, tribal nations are central to DOE’s mission. In order for us to be effective in dealing with our Native American stakeholders and employees, we need to understand the history, culture, and issues related to Indian Country. DOE’s Native American Heritage Month event was a good step toward that understanding.
The program began with a video of Steven Wilson, a University of South Dakota student singing the National Anthem in Lakota. Lakota (Lakȟótiyapi), also referred to as Lakhota, Teton or Teton Sioux, is a Siouan language spoken by the Lakota people of the Sioux tribes.
Cory Jackson of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) spoke on efforts to create economic and employment opportunities within the Tribal communities through the NNSA funded Tribal College Advanced Manufacturing Network.
A. Brandt Petrasek from the Office of Environmental Management shared a wealth of information on the Tribal Working Groups and the Department’s engagement efforts as it relates to Native Americans.
Our keynote speaker, Carrie L. Billy, J.D., President and CEO of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium gave an excellent speech along with a very informative slide presentation about the history of her organization and the history of Tribal Nations. Additionally, she discussed the important role of Tribal Colleges and Universities in educating the Native American population, and in educating the U.S. at large on the issues American Indian Higher Education institutions face.