Secretary’s First-Ever Tribal Advisory Committee Meets

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Date: Thursday, September 29, 2022
Contact: [email protected]

WASHINGTON – The Home Department’s first-ever Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee (STAC) held its kick-off meeting this week. Secretary Deb Haaland announced that President Whitney Gravelle (Bay Mills Indian Community) and President Erica Pinto (Jamul Indian Village) will be the new STAC President and Vice President respectively.

STAC, which was announced as part of the 2021 White House Tribal Nations Summit and launched in June 2022, will ensure tribal leaders have direct and consistent contact and communication with current and future Department officials to facilitate in-depth discussions of intergovernmental responsibilities, exchange views, share information, and provide advice and recommendations regarding departmental programs and funding that impact Tribal Nations in order to advance federal fiduciary responsibility.

“Tribes deserve to have a seat at the decision-making table before policies are developed that impact their communities. With new leadership helping to guide the Secretary’s first-ever Tribal Advisory Committee, tribal leaders will engage at the highest levels of the Department on the issues that matter most to their people,” said Secretary Haaland. “I look forward to continuing the discussions and ensuring that the Department honors and strengthens our nation-to-nation relationships with the tribes.”

During the two-day virtual meeting hosted by Senior Counsel to the Secretary Heidi Todacheene, STAC members met with Secretary Haaland and Deputy Secretary Tommy Beaudreau, as well as the Executive Director of the White House Council on Native American Affairs. , Morgan Rodman. They also participated in sessions with representatives from the Office of the Attorney and the offices of the Assistant Secretaries of Fish and Wildlife and Parks; Indian Affairs; Island and International Affairs; land and mineral management; policy, management and budget; and water and science. They also received updates on tribal funding opportunities provided under the US bailout of 2021, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, and the implementation of Indian water rights.

President Whitney Gravelle is a citizen of the Bay Mills “Gnoozhekaaning” (Pike Place) Indian Community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. After earning a JD from Michigan State University College of Law in 2016 and a certificate from the Indigenous Law Program, President Gravelle worked for the Department of Justice with the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Indian Resources Section, served as Chief Justice of the Bay Mills Tribal Court, and again as in-house counsel for the Bay Mills Indian Community. Currently, she serves as Executive Council Chair on behalf of the Bay Mills Indian Community; and serves as a commissioner on the Michigan Advisory Council on Environmental Justice and the Board of Directors of the Michigan Intertribal Council.

Erica M. Pinto is president of the Jamul Indian Village (JIV) of California, one of 13 tribes of the Kumeyaay Nation whose roots date back 12,000 years to San Diego County. President Pinto has been involved with the JIV Tribal Council since 1997, becoming a member of the council at the age of 21. Serving on the council for more than 23 years, she was appointed vice president of the tribal council in 2008. In 2015, she was the first woman elected president of the Indian village of Jamul. President Pinto is a co-founder of the Acorn to Oaks Tribal program, which organizes activities focused on culture, youth development, health and fitness, and technology – all designed to help prevent drug and drug abuse. alcohol, teen pregnancy, while promoting education and family unity. . Born in El Paso, Texas, she grew up with her three brothers on the Jamul Indian Village Reservation and the Viejas Reservation.

The STAC is made up of one primary tribal representative from each of the 12 Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) regions and one alternate member from each region. Members are appointed for a staggered term of up to two years.

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