Cybele K. Daley, Acting Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs
64th Annual Convention of the National Conference of American Indians
November 14, 2007
Good morning, and thank you for the invitation to speak here today. I am honored to be here with Tribal leaders, NCAI delegates, other representatives of the Department of Justice, and our partner federal agencies.
Most of all, I am glad to have this opportunity to thank everyone at NCAI for all of the work you do to help tribal governments. We at the Department of Justice, and especially at the Office of Justice Programs, value the strong partnership we have formed. Together, we have strived to improve law enforcement and public safety in Indian Country.
Last year we launched the Tribal Justice and Safety Web site, dedicated to providing you up-to-date relevant information for Indian country. We are continuing to enhance the Web site to better meet Tribal needs. Please know that we post all of our major Tribal activities on this Web site to keep you informed on all of our efforts.
In Fiscal Year 2007, we held national Tribal training and technical assistance sessions around the country. We conducted, with our federal partners, four sessions in Fiscal Year 2007, which has grown to five federal agencies. Three of these sessions included formal consultations, so we could better learn about the greatest challenges to tribal communities in providing public safety and public health for its members.
The feedback we received from these sessions encouraged us to set up more for fiscal year 2008.
The next Interdepartmental Tribal Consultation, Training & Technical Assistance Session will be held on November 27-30, 2007, at the Tamaya Hyatt Resort, Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico.
The Tribal consultation session will be held on November 27th and I invite all Tribal leaders to attend.
Of course, Tribal leaders want to know what progress is being made on the items raised at the consultation sessions, and I am pleased to provide a brief report to you today on OJP’s response thus far.
Access to Resources
We are committed to ensuring that Tribal criminal justice systems have access to the same resources as others around the country, not just those resources specifically designated for Tribes. This will be done while also honoring the government-to-government relationship between tribes and the federal government.
This was a priority of our former Assistant Attorney General, Regina Schofield. While we miss her leadership and dedication, let me assure you that OJP’s efforts to better serve Tribal communities will continue and grow.
Adam Walsh Act Implementation
Tribal leaders asked for additional resources, training, and technical assistance to implement Adam Walsh Act in your communities. And, you asked us to establish a tribal advisory group to assist us with implementation.
We know that tribes share our goal of improving the monitoring and tracking of sex offenders. We will continue to work with tribes to help make this implementation work.
The last day of the upcoming training and technical assistance session, November 30th, will be dedicated to a symposium on sex offender management and accountability, hosted by our Sex Offender Monitoring, Apprehension, Registering and Tracking, or SMART, Office. For those of you that cannot attend our November 30th session, another one is being planned for March 2008.
In November 2005, we created an internal Justice Programs Council on Native American Affairs, which is working hard to improve OJP’s and the Justice Department’s coordination and policy efforts on behalf of Tribes.
OJP has now established a Tribal Justice Advisory Group, or T-JAG, to advise the Council and the leadership at OJP. We notified all 562 federally recognized tribes to solicit nominations, and I want to thank everyone who responded. We are in the process of finalizing the membership now. The first T-JAG meeting will also convene at the upcoming Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Session at the end of the month, and agenda time is being dedicated for detailed discussion on the Adam Walsh Act.
Reducing Barriers to Grants
During the consultation sessions we held in March and June 2007, we solicited ideas on how we can improve our grants process. Shortly before she left, AAG Schofield approved a new Tribal Grants Policy.
The new policy is designed to result in more timely and thorough information to Tribes about available grants and their eligibility. It should also make it easier for Tribes to apply for OJP funds.
Coordinating this effort is Gena Tyner-Dawson, OJP’s Senior Advisor to the Assistant Attorney General for Tribal Affairs. She has worked tirelessly to improve OJP’s outreach and service to Tribal communities. I am glad that Ms. Tyner-Dawson could be here with us. Please feel free to contact her with any questions, ideas, or concerns regarding OJP’s service to Indian Country.
Improve Information Sharing and Inter-Jurisdictional Coordination
I’m pleased to share some good news about our AMBER Alert in Indian Country Initiative. At your convention last year, former Assistant Attorney General Schofield mentioned that we had made funding available to implement tribal AMBER Alert programs. In September, we selected 10 Tribal sites to serve as pilot communities as part of the initiative.
The 10 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. The sites will also bridge the gap between Tribal communities and state and regional AMBER Alert programs across the country.
Our work with tribes to protect children goes hand in hand with our work to support services for tribal youth. Part of our mission at the Office of Justice Programs is to help young people steer clear of risky and criminal behavior like gang involvement and get on the path to healthy, productive lives. Our partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs has been central to this effort.
Boys and Girls Clubs are now in operation in more than 200 tribal communities, and they’re helping countless Native American youth stay on the right track. For example, in Montana, the Boys and Girls Club of the Northern Cheyenne Nation has been in operation since 1993 and today serves more than one thousand members. The Club provides an array of programs and activities for tribal youth, including a daily breakfast program, late-night basketball, and a thriving T-shirt business that is managed and run by Club members.
With features like the PowerUp Program and a full-scale computer lab, students have been able to stay on top of their school work. As a result, grades are improving and drop-out rates are falling.
OJP is proud to help support efforts like this one, and we’re committed to working with tribes to help address the problems facing their young people today.
As you all know too well, one of the most serious problems facing tribal youth is the use and abuse of drugs, especially methamphetamine.
Tribal leaders and NCAI have made it clear in testimony to Congress and in meetings with the Bush Administration, that meth has become an epidemic in many tribal communities.
OJP and the Justice Department continue to work with tribes to help stem the tide of meth in Indian country. We have made sure all of our Tribal Training & Technical Assistance sessions include Meth awareness and training workshops. We have worked with other federal, state, and local officials and leaders to sponsor the largest, single nationwide education effort to warn people about the dangers of using meth.
Last summer, we partnered with the Office of National Drug Control Policy to sponsor a Tribal Meth Summit. We are also working to ensure that the latest research findings related to meth exposure are available to law enforcement and incorporated in training sessions. And we continue to support a National Drug Endangered Children Resource Center to address the effects of meth and other drugs on young people.
I’m proud of our work with tribes on these and so many other important initiatives. Working together, we have made much progress, but there remains much to be done. 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.
Thank you again for your attendance, for your commitment to your communities, and for all that you do.