Toward the latter part of the month of July, Director of Emergency Management at the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Nelson Andrews accepted an invitational request from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to meet with Assistant Secretary of DHS John Hill and Deputy Assistant Secretary Alaina Clark in Oklahoma City. At this meeting he was joined with a selected group of other emergency managers from across various regions and organizations within Indian Country. During the meeting the group had valuable discussions with DHS regarding various issues that impact the preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation efforts across Tribal jurisdictions.
During the first two days this group of diversified Emergency Management professionals began planning and preparations to establish the top two major concerns that we are all facing within our respective fields, by the third day of the week they prepared to voice their concerns and state their case to DHS leadership.
Prior to the start of the meeting Nelson was chosen to conduct the presentation and highlight the meeting topics to the assistant secretary and provide the key issues that are affecting the resource and emergency management capability gaps and severely impacting the majority of Tribes.
The first concern described was the lack of a direct funding mechanism to enhance Tribal emergency services and begin to address the incomparable homeland security parity that our State counterparts receive. The second key concern voiced was the need for a specific Tribal affairs office under DHS, similar to the structures already in place that are shared by equal Federal counterparts. This meeting was a great way to bring these concerns and potential solutions that are impacting Indian Country to the forefront and in the scope of the DHS leadership.
“It was also an honor to explain to these important decision makers the true early history of our Tribe and the modern issues that we all face daily within the lack of funding comparison and support equal to our State and local counterparts,” said Nelson. “I feel that we are making productive strides toward these needed and long overdue changes for all Tribal Nations.”