The Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Branch of the USDA Forest Service formally partnered with the Society for Range Management (SRM), the Southwest Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI), the Mescalero Apache Tribe, and Animo Partnerships in Natural Resources to offer a “Natural Resources Discovery Camp” to thirty-three (33) American Indian students. The camp took place June 10-14 in Mescalero, New Mexico. Participating students from SIPI, Mescalero High School, and Tularosa High School were introduced to career paths through experiential activities with agency and tribal staff members. Students also engaged in problem-solving activities that helped them learn how they can apply science to the study of natural resources. Students were selected based on criterion developed by SRM, SIPI, and the USDA Forest Service, including enrollment in natural-resources related academic programs at the post-secondary level, as well as high school students with an expressed interest in studying and working in the field of natural resources. “I was so impressed with the caliber of students and their level of engagement,” said Jennifer Hickman, Forest Soil Scientist with the Lincoln National Forest. “As a Native professional, it is endearing to see young Native students interested in pursuing natural resources careers.”
USDA Forest Service Work Environment and Performance Office (WEPO) personnel, along with subject matter experts from the Lincoln National Forest, the Southwestern Regional Office, and partners from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Mescalero Tribal Fish Hatchery facilitated workshops and interactive sessions to review requirements for exploring opportunities and gaining employment in the public service sector. Federal and Tribal employees assisted in hands-on curriculum designed to enhance student awareness in career paths related to range management, forestry, fire ecology, wildlife ecology, fisheries, recreation, and soil science through presentations and field activities. “I really learned a lot from the professionals that came to talk to us from the federal agencies,” said Letisha Mailboy, a recent SIPI graduate and a member of the Cañoncito Band of Navajos in Tohajiille, NM. Ms. Mailboy will be attending New Mexico Highlands University in the fall to pursue a degree in Geology. “I particularly appreciated how we were encouraged and challenged to think about how we can use what we learned to improve our own communities.”
During the week-long camp, post-secondary institution partners from SIPI provided instruction in how to apply geospatial science to natural resource studies that helped students develop problem-solving skills. Shane Evans, a senior at Tularosa High School and member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe, stated, “Learning about geographic information systems was really helpful: pinpointing maps, taking pictures, collecting data. I actually want to be in natural resources and it was good to get to work out in the field and learn about so many options.” In addition to the field activities, “Tips for Jobseekers” workshops were conducted to familiarize students to careers in the USDA Forest Service, how to apply for federal positions on USAJobs, Pathways Program and third-party internships, and interviewing skills.
The Natural Resources Discovery Camp was in direct alignment with Forest Service core values, affecting meaningful connection of ordinary Americans, particularly underrepresented minorities, to the land, to the Forest Service, and to efforts aimed at conserving our natural resources. Our dedication to service was on full display for the camp participants and this initiative enhanced efforts to create awareness of and appreciation for Forest Service programs and activities. As in all work-related matters, recognition of the interdependence between the Forest Service and the people and communities we serve was truly evident through productive and engaging discussions with representatives of the Mescalero Apache Tribe and the diverse students from various indigenous backgrounds who attend SIPI. The Natural Resources Discovery Camp allowed us to work in collaboration with communities and our partners, including a post-secondary institution (SIPI), local high schools (Mescalero High School and Tularosa High School), Tribal leaders and representatives, and professional organizations (Society for Range Management and Animo Partnerships in Natural Resources). Respect for diversity was demonstrated in both the design and execution of this project, including a deep respect for the people and communities with which we engaged, and the cultures, perspectives, ideas, and experiences they embody and bring to the table. Access to resources and experiences that promote economic, ecological, and social vitality were embedded as stated objectives of this camp, with a strong emphasis on how the knowledge and skills that students gained by virtue of their participation in this discovery camp could be used in solving problems in their own communities.
“I was so pleased as to how well this year’s Discovery Camp came together,” said Arthur (Butch) Blazer, President of the Mescalero Apache Tribe. “I want to thank all involved for creating such a meaningful and lasting experience for our tribal students that were in attendance. I truly hope that this is the first of many more camps to come.”
The Summer Food Service Program would like you to know they are providing free meals this summer!
Starting June 3, 2019 through July 26, 2019
A & B Side ~ Lunch ~ 12pm-12:45pm
**Carrizo Comm. Center ~ Lunch & Snack ~ 12pm-12:45pm & 3pm-3:30pm
Carrizo Trails ~ Lunch ~ 12pm-12:45pm
**Mescalero Comm. Center ~ Lunch & Snack ~ 12pm-12:45 & 3pm-3:30pm
Pena Housing Playground ~ Lunch ~ 12pm-12:45pm
White Mt. Subdivision ~ Lunch ~ 12pm-12:45pm
**PM snack 3pm-3:30pm
Give Mescalero Boys & Girls Club (575-464-9212) or Carrizo Boys & Girls Club (575-464-6814) a call for more info!
National Congress of American Indians – Tribal Nations Policy Summit
The NCAI held the Tribal Nations Policy Summit in Washington D.C. early this year. Many tribes from across the Country attend in efforts of improving services and programs throughout Indian Country. Some of the Mescalero Tribal Council members attended and participated discussions and decision making.
Topics such as Native Vote, ICWA, Indian Energy Bill, Environmental Health, National Indian Education Association are just to name a few.
Tribal Fundraiser for New Mexico Representative Xochitl Torres Small with special guest Congressman Raul Grijalva from Arizona who is the House of Natural Resources Committee Chairman was held around the Capital Hill area. Some Tribal Council were in attendance at this fundraiser to continue their support for Rep. Torres Small and her hard work. Her efforts for our tribe and other tribes in New Mexico is non-stop, she is helping the tribe establish good working relationships with other non-Native services.
Meet and Greet with Democratic Senatorial Campaign
At the morning meet and greet with a few Senators, tribal leadership is welcomed to D.C. at the Stanley R. Crooks Tribal Leaders Conference Center in Capital Hill. Pictured is Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto (middle) from Nevada. She introduced herself to the President, Councilman Brusuelas and Councilwoman Hosetosavit expressing her willingness to help our tribe and engaged in a discussion about tribal issues.
Early morning meeting with Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Dept. of the Interior, Tara Sweeney
The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs oversees and protects more than 55 million acres of trust land held by the U.S. for Native American and Alaska Native tribes while ensuring the federal government’s legal and treaty responsibilities to those tribes. This meeting was to discuss the planning steps of constructing a detention center. Having a detention center in Mescalero will make it more effective to use our own resources and, more importantly, help our people. This is what the President and Tribal Council members expressed to the Assistant Secretary. Moving forward, she encourages the construction of the detention to be done the right way and safe. “We want to be partners and you have my commitment.” Said Tara as the meeting came to a close.
Meeting with Senator Martin Heinrich
- Energy & Natural Resources Committee
- Armed Services Committee
- U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
- U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee
U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich is a positive role in helping the tribe improve. Recently, the granted 2018 Farm Bill provisions that will benefit the tribe was due, in part, to his active efforts in ensuring New Mexico tribes would be positively affected by the Farm Bill. He is also encouraging our efforts to host this year’s Blessing Feast near Oscura Mountain Peak, which is one of four sacred mountains. This year will be the third year, of four, in the Blessing Feast series. Senator Heinrich is also assisting the tribe in accommodating Mescalero BIA police with housing so that more applicants can be hired.
Meeting with Representative Xochitl Torres Small
- Armed Services Committee
- Homeland Security Committee
Representative Torres Small is also supportive in the tribe’s effort to hosting a Blessing Feast at each of the four sacred mountains. Rep. Torres Small gives her full support in helping the tribe work alongside other entities like the White Sands National Monument to help make this year’s Blessing Feast another success. She is also helping the tribe gain more knowledge about economic enterprise and what more the tribe can accomplish.
Meeting with USDA Undersecretary Jim Hubbard
Now that the 2018 Farm Bill is passed, it is time to do some work. Meeting with the USDA ensures the discussion and implementation of the 638 forestry provisions are going well and benefiting the tribe. Both the tribe and USDA are ready to hit the ground running on starting 638 projects. With the help from USDA on forest restoration and many other projects, more of our tribal members will be employed.
Meeting with Congressman Ben Ray Lujan’s Office
- House Energy & Commerce Committee
- Health Subcommittee
- Consumer Protection & Commerce Subcommittee
- Communications & Technology Subcommittee
Congressman Luján’s concern is making sure the USDA is knowledgeable about the provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill, specifically 638 contracting, that will benefit the tribe. After all, the tribe and Congressman Lujan wants success in the provisions. Having a detention center located in Mescalero is also rather important. Congressman Lujan is well aware of the tribes efforts to getting the detention center built and his goal is to have it done in a timely manner. He is also aware of the four year Blessing Feast series and is in support of the tribe hosting and gaining professional relationship with other entities. Congressman Lujan’s office feels the armed services and staff near Oscura will be more than willing to work with the tribe. Lastly, one of Congressman Lujan’s staffer created a task force to bring voting awareness to tribal communities in New Mexico – Mescalero included. If you recently became a registered New Mexico voter, his office may have helped you!
Meeting with Congresswoman Deb Haaland
- Vice Chair of Committee on Natural Resources
- Chair of Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands
- Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples of the United States
- House Armed Services Committee
- House Subcommittee on Readiness
- House Subcommittee on Military Personnel
Congresswoman Deb Haaland continues to be a supportive role in the tribe’s efforts on forest restoration, Farm Bill 638 contracting provision, Blessing feast near Oscura Mountain Peak, detention center being built in Mescalero and the hiring of more BIA police at the Mescalero agency.
Meeting with Senator Tom Udall
- Appropriations Committee
- Foreign Relations Committee
- Commerce Committee
- Indian Affairs Committee
- Rules and Administration Committee
Senator Udall’s office is aware of the Farm Bill provisions and is providing any assistance to the tribe when needed. One of the goals the tribe has is to be the header of implementing the provisions and the tribe is happy to have Senator Udall’s support in doing so. The tribe can look to him for help on wildfire programs, youth in wildfire jobs, detention center being built in Mescalero, accommodating BIA police with housing in order to hire more officers, 2019 Blessing feast and tourist attractions during busy seasons at the Inn of the Mountains Resort & Casino and Ski Apache.
The U.S. Small Business Administration announced the stops for this year’s SBIR RoadTour. The Road Tour connects entrepreneurs working on advanced technology to program managers and program directors from the federal agencies that fund through the SBIR or its programs. If you are working on an innovative idea, and need to find funding to bring your innovation to the commercial market, don’t miss this opportunity to connect with key decision makers.
The NM FAST program is also proud to announce that Albuquerque will be one of the stops on this year’s tour. We’re planning a power house day of events and activities for August 14th, so check back for more information soon.
To learn more about the Road Tour, visit the site at: http://www.sbirroadtour.com/
Courtesy NM Fast Facebook page.
The Albuquerque FBI Division has presented the 2018 Director’s Community Leadership Award to the Mescalero Apache Tribe Violence Against Women Awareness Program (VAWA).
Started in 2015 as part of a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, the program provides services to victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes as well as implements educational programs about domestic violence and human trafficking.
Each of the FBI’s 56 field offices annually selects an individual or organization to receive the award, which recognizes efforts in combating crime, terrorism, drugs, and violence in America.
VAWA Director Lola Ahidley has been invited to a ceremony in Washington, D.C., where FBI Director Christopher Wray will present her and other recipients with crystal awards.
“The Mescalero Apache Tribe Violence Against Women Awareness Program has greatly increased awareness of domestic violence and other crimes,” Albuquerque FBI Special Agent in Charge James Langenberg said. “The FBI is proud to recognize the hard work of those who are improving communication among victims, families, law enforcement, and the courts to help break the generational cycle of violence.”
Ahidley, who is Mescalero Apache, works with two assistants to offer free counseling to domestic violence victims and conduct no-cost community prevention and education on bullying, elder fraud, sex trafficking, and domestic violence.
VAWA meets regularly with U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) victim services specialists to staff cases and to provide for immediate needs not funded under BIA or FBI programs, such as lodging, clothing, hygiene items, and cellphones for victims of domestic violence and other violent crimes.
VAWA attends arraignments for domestic violence victims in Mescalero Apache tribal court, and successfully requested to have an ordinance passed by the tribal government to allow advocates in court at the request of a victim.
The program recently sponsored a two-day “women’s self-defense training” seminar that was so popular that Ahidley has been asked to repeat it.
VAWA is conducting a program to raise awareness of human trafficking, especially around the tribe’s casinos and truck stops. They offer training for employees of those businesses and have put messages on billboards throughout the reservation.
More information about VAWA can be found at: https://mescaleroapachetribe.com/mescalero-vaw/