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Press Release: NUIFC Gives Voice to the 78% of American Indians/Alaska Natives Living Off-Reservation

August 25, 2015  |   Posted by :   |   NUIFC News   |   0 Comment»

Contact Info: Janeen Comenote, Executive Director
National Urban Indian Family Coalition or (206) 551-9933

Release Date: July 15, 2015

NUIFC Gives Voice to the 78% of American Indians/Alaska Natives Living Off-Reservation in National Policy Report: “Making the Invisible Visible: A Policy Blueprint for Urban Indian America”

Seattle, Washington – As the majority of the American Indian/Alaska Native population living off the reservation climbs above three-fourths of the total U.S. Native American population, the need for dedicated urban Indian policy is long overdue. The National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC) has dedicated the last three years to conducting a project to provide Urban Indian America a voice by reaching out to communities and institutions that respond to the needs of urban Indian families: the nonprofit sector of urban Indian support organizations. The result is a new national report titled Making the Invisible Visible: A Policy Blueprint for Urban Indian America.


Based on the responses from urban Native community leaders, nonprofit organization representatives and policymakers from 11 major U.S. cities, , the NUIFC has crafted this policy blueprint to address the significant disparities experienced by this largely invisible group. (The cities included Buffalo, New York; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota; Chicago, Illinois; San Antonio, Texas; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Los Angeles, California; Bay Area, California; Denver, Colorado; and Seattle, Washington.)

The need for dedicated urban policy addressing the needs of urban Natives remains outstanding, which hinders adequate support provided by urban Indian organizations to these communities. Speaking about these barriers, NUIFC Executive Director Janeen Comenote (Quinault), said:  “In our analysis and examination of the excellent work being done within the urban Indian nonprofit sector, it became clear that there simply isn’t enough information out there about the status and needs of urban Indians in America. We know that resources follow policy and that, in order to strengthen the sector, we would need to examine and suggest policies that improve our outcomes off reservations.” These objectives laid the foundation for the latest report,. They were determined by the responses of urban Indian communities who defined six common policy arenas upon which to focus:  1) Identity, Culture, Language & Traditions, 2) Children & Families, 3) Employment & Economic Development, 4) Housing & Homelessness, 5) Health & Wellness, and 6) Collaboration, Coalition Building & Strategic Action. In addition to providing an overview of these overarching issues, a national policy recommendation requests that the U.S. federal government examine and seek to replicate a similar policy to the “Urban Aboriginal Strategy” that the Canadian federal government created in response to its growing urban Aboriginal community, and in which it dedicated $43 million to their social, economic and cultural wellbeing, now administered by the National Association of Friendship Centres.

As the NUIFC seeks to fulfill its mission of elevating a national voice and sustaining Indigenous values and culture through a strong network of urban Indian organizations, it releases the latest report that gives a pulse on Urban Indian America. This project and report were made possible by dedicated funding from the Marguerite Casey Foundation. The NUIFC plans to present this policy blueprint to the White House and other relevant federal departments this fall. The NUIFC advocates for American Indian families living in urban areas by creating partnerships with tribes, as well as other American Indian organizations, and by conducting research to better understand the barriers, issues and opportunities facing urban American Indian families.  


Summing up the sentiment that is felt by many urban Indian communities and what fuels urban Indian nonprofit organizations, the president of the Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska, stated: “We are many. We are diverse. We represent our many cultures. We are a resource. We influence our people. We have roots and heritage. We live in two worlds. We feel unity when we gather. We have dual citizenships. We are the caretakers for our aging elders and children. We are the link to those who have left home. We are you”. – Katherine Gottlieb (Aleut), President, Southcentral Foundation, Anchorage, Alaska.




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