President Biden declared November 2021 National Native American Heritage Month, honoring the contributions of tribal peoples and their perseverance "despite a painful history marked by unjust federal policies of assimilation and termination."
In a proclamation released on October 29, the President underscored the success of tribal self-governance while emphasizing inequities Native Americans face, including new challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. He urged all Americans to honor the cultures and contributions of Native people, and to "recommit ourselves to fulfilling the full promise of our nation together." OJJDP takes that charge seriously, partnering with tribes to strengthen communities where Native youth can thrive.
"OJJDP joins the President in recognizing and honoring Native American values and the contributions of tribal people to the pursuit of justice for all," Acting Administrator Chyrl Jones said in response to the proclamation. "The Office remains committed to funding programs for tribal youth that respect Indigenous cultures and heritage, support their communities, and promote their growth and resilience."
OJJDP's fiscal year (FY) 2021 funding for programs in Indian country is expected to increase over FY 2020 awards. The Office awarded $7.1 million in funding for Native youth initiatives in FY 2020, including more than $5.3 million to 14 tribes under the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS). Six tribes received a total of $2 million under CTAS Purpose Area 8: Juvenile Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts, and eight tribes received $3.3 million under CTAS Purpose Area 9: Tribal Youth Program. OJJDP expects that FY 2021 awards will more than double those figures, funding up to 11 tribes under the Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts program (anticipated total: $4.4 million) and 14 tribes under the Tribal Youth Program (anticipated total: $7.1 million).
OJJDP recognizes the insight tribes have into the challenges their youth face and the services they need, and actively seeks tribal input. The Office held a tribal consultation in June 2020, inviting leaders and representatives to discuss how OJJDP should collaborate with and support tribes when implementing youth programming. In July, OJJDP released Tribal Consultation Response, a report summarizing these issues.
Other OJJDP efforts to support tribal youth and promote their well-being include:
- An ongoing partnership with United National Indian Tribal Youth (UNITY) to develop youth leaders through the Healing Indigenous Lives Initiative. UNITY provides training for youth peer leaders, who work to increase public safety and prevent delinquency.
- Continuing efforts to expand the AMBER Alert early warning system in Indian country, to ensure tribal communities can respond quickly and effectively to cases of child abduction. OJJDP's AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program works with tribes to develop and enhance tribal AMBER Alert plans, reviewing best practices for collaborating with state and regional programs.
- A longstanding commitment to provide training and technical assistance through the Tribal Youth Resource Center and The Resource Basket, ensuring that tribal programs funded by OJJDP continue to be effective and culturally relevant.
The President's declaration of Native American Heritage Month follows several recent proclamations related to Native American peoples, including Indigenous People's Day on October 8, and an executive order on October 11 announcing the White House Initiative on Advancing Educational Equity, Excellence, and Economic Opportunity for Native Americans and Strengthening Tribal Colleges and Universities.
OJJDP's Tribal Consultation webpage includes links to a webinar presentation from the consultation, a transcript, and the full consultation response. OJJDP's Consultation Framing Paper on the Juvenile Justice Reform Act and Tribal Youth Delinquency Prevention and Intervention Programs outlines tribal provisions in the Act, and the OJJDP website includes a fact sheet.