July | August 2017

Message From the Acting Administrator: Helping Tribes Heal From Within

Hi, I’m Eileen Garry, Acting Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

OJJDP works to prevent both youth delinquency and child victimization so young people have opportunities for brighter futures. We champion the interests of all children. In 2014, an OJJDP report revealed that American Indian and Alaska Native children are exposed to higher rates of violence compared with children of other races or ethnicities.

As part of my 40-year career, I have had an incredible opportunity to serve as the Deputy Executive Director of the Indian Law and Order Commission. I traveled the country listening to stories of sorrow and loss, but also of rich tribal culture and community resilience. Attorney General Sessions recognizes the importance of protecting tribal communities and supporting law enforcement in Indian Country. He has committed to working with tribal police to provide them greater access to technology, information, and necessary enforcement.

Recently, I’ve had several opportunities to share information about our Office’s support of tribal concerns.  In May, I participated in a listening session sponsored by the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. And, in early July, I was honored to participate in the Today’s Native Leaders National Summit in Denver, CO. OJJDP has a long history of funding tribal youth leadership development programs.

I shared a message of support and encouragement with attendees of a Tribal Policy Initiative Cohort Meeting OJJDP convened in mid-July. Our Tribal Policy Initiatives were created to facilitate tribes’ implementation of culturally specific and trauma-informed measures to heal their own children. The initiatives focus on the impact of historical trauma, and the present-day trauma of domestic, sexual, and community violence.

This OJJDP-supported work is building on efforts many tribes have already begun. We expect the initiatives to achieve and sustain positive outcomes for American Indian and Alaska Native youth and encourage collaborative decision making among tribal leaders. To be clear, we understand that tribes alone know best how to protect and heal their own children. We are doing what we can to assist them. There are no problems we can’t solve together and very few we can solve by ourselves.

One of the many tribal members who testified before the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee told us:

“If you want to help, help us look within our own people and communities for solutions, support, and ideas and help us implement those ideas. But do not do it for us—it will not work.”

We heard her. We heard her loud and clear.

Learn more about OJJDP’s tribal community efforts in this issue of OJJDP News @ a Glance, and our Tribal Youth Programs page on our website at ojjdp.gov. 

Thank you.