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FEMA releases first ‘National Tribal Strategy’

The cover of FEMA’s “National Tribal Strategy” features images of Native Americans. (FEMA)

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published its “2022-2026 FEMA National Tribal Strategy,” on Aug. 18. It is a first for the organization and reflects a culmination of tribal perspectives shared with the agency over several years.

FEMA said the strategy reflects the voices of 135 representatives within 78 tribal nations, “who contributed critical feedback during tribal consultation in 2022 to help us become the FEMA that tribal nations need and deserve.”

FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for and preventing domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made.

“That is why, as emergency managers, we must be proactive and deliberate in our support to tribal nations as they build climate-resilient and prepared communities,” FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell writes in the document’s opening page. “We will only be successful when our programs are fully accessible to tribal communities. We must strive toward delivery of assistance that meets their unique needs.”

The strategy’s overall goal is to improve FEMA’s relationship with tribal governments and improve its emergency and disaster responsiveness throughout Indian Country.

The document includes information that was requested by tribal nations through outreach sessions led by FEMA’s national tribal affairs adviser Denise “Bambi” Kraus (Tlingit). Requests included tribal-specific technical assistance and tailored resources to support tribal emergency management programs.

The strategy calls for a national study on tribal emergency management capacity and capabilities, which would assist FEMA in developing a comprehensive guide for tribes. The strategy also calls for an annual meeting of national and regional tribal liaisons as well as an expansion of training opportunities.

“FEMA understands that sovereign tribal nations have unique needs, capabilities and roles in emergency management,” the document reads. “Inherent to the aspirations of the new National Tribal Strategy is a focus on improved engagement, partnership and service between FEMA and the 574 federally recognized tribal nations it serves.”

To read the document, go to fema.gov or click here.

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