U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs

November is Native American Heritage Month

November 2007

This Native American Heritage Month, we renew our commitment to tribal communities. OJP is proud to work with our tribal partners to improve law enforcement and public safety in Indian Country.

Our former Assistant Attorney General, Regina Schofield, made service to tribes a priority. Under her leadership, we launched the Tribal Justice and Safety Web site, dedicated to providing up-to-date, relevant information for criminal justice practitioners in Indian Country. We started the Justice Programs Council on Native American Affairs (JPCNAA), which is working hard to improve OJP's and the Justice Department's coordination and policy efforts on behalf of tribes.

We are proud to continue Ms. Schofield's efforts. In Fiscal Year 2007, we held national Tribal Consultation, Training, and Technical Assistance Sessions to focus on tribal public safety, justice, and public health tribal issues and training needs. We will have three more sessions this fiscal year, with the first one on November 27-30 in Albuquerque, NM. The last day of this session will be dedicated to a symposium on sex offender management and accountability, hosted by our Sex Offender Monitoring, Apprehension, Registering and Tracking Office.

At the consultations, tribal leaders requested improved access to OJP grants and other resources. In response, OJP recently established a new grant policy that is designed to result in more timely and thorough information for tribes about available grants and their eligibility.

OJP has established a tribal advisory group to assist the JPCNAA with advice and assistance on tribal justice and safety issues. We notified the leaders of all 562 federally recognized tribes about the advisory group and have solicited their nominations for membership. We hope to convene the first group meeting at the Albuquerque Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Session at the end of the month.

OJP has worked with tribes to protect Indian women and children. In September ten tribal communities were selected as pilot sites as part of the AMBER Alert in Indian Country Initiative. These sites will serve as models for other tribal communities working to develop AMBER Alert plans so that children in Indian country can benefit from the AMBER Alert network.

With guidance from our SMART Office, many tribes have taken steps to implement the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006; thereby, improving the monitoring and tracking of sex offenders. Staff in the SMART Office provide almost weekly training to tribes on the details of sex offender registration and notification. Moreover, hundreds of technical assistance questions are fielded through the SMART Office's email address, many of these questions are submitted from tribes. And, on November 30, 2007, the SMART Office will host a National Symposium on Sex Offender Management and Accountability; this training will be at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort on the Santa Ana Pueblo.

Working together, we have made much progress. We look forward to continuing our close coordination with tribes, building on what we have achieved and addressing the challenges that remain to make lives better for all in Indian Country.

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