Dear Tribal Members,
About a month ago, I met with the Office of Head Start at a Tribal Consultation Session in Spokane, Washington. With my white paper in hand and our program manager at my side, I delivered three Colville Tribal centered concerns regarding competitive wages, facilities funding, and training/technical assistance funding. I had heard these tribal consultations were check the box for the agencies but to my surprise the Director of Program Operations sought us out after our testimony to continue the discussion.
Admittedly, prior to going on this delegation I had to familiarize myself with the executive order regarding consultation and coordination with tribal governments. After I had, I knew if we asked to “develop our own policies” or “establish our own standards” we might get somewhere. We asked for broad authority over Sec. 653. [42 U.S.C. 9848] (a) Comparability of Wages. To determine for ourselves the average rate of compensation paid in the areas we serve. We mentioned in 2015, we had enacted our own comprehensive salary scale and salary policy that takes into consideration among other things comparable markets, geographic location, and performance environment. We have the ability to establish our own standards and have developed our own policies.
There was also a statement in the Executive order that caught my eye. “Indian nations and tribes ceded lands, water, and mineral rights in exchange for peace, security, health care, and education. The Federal Government did not always live up to its end of the bargain.” In our testimony, we introduced a report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights A Quiet Crisis: Federal funding and Unmet Needs in Indian Country. Ultimately the Commission recommended in the report that all federal agencies that administer Native American programs should be required to set aside money for infrastructure building that will benefit all.
And lastly, we talked about the need for additional funding for recruitment, training, and in-service professional development. $350/staff member does not even begin to honor the commitment of the Administration to engage in a partnership with tribes, so that we can reach our full potential.
In closing, it was a great experience for me. I’d be honored to participate in more consultation sessions. I’m sending a huge “thank you” to all who work with our youth in early education.