White House appoints Elizabeth Carr as first-ever Office of Management and Budget tribal advisor
Tribes finally have a seat at the OMB table.
WASHINGTON — The White House today announced its appointment of the first-ever tribal advisor to the director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB).
Tribal officials have made the case for years that OMB should employ more top officials dedicated to addressing tribal needs, given the unique trust responsibility of the federal government toward American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Tribes have long lamented a disjointed federal approach to funding for tribal nations, across presidential administrations.
The Biden White House took a step to address the issue on Sept. 12, announcing that Elizabeth Carr, a citizen of the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians, would take on the newly created position. She has been serving as a top advisor at the Indian Health Service for a couple of years within the federal government.
“The creation of this position further reaffirms the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to uphold and strengthen the government-to-government relationship between the Federal Government and Tribal Nations,” Carr said in a statement. “It’s an absolute honor to serve this Administration and Indian Country.”
The full announcement from Shalanda Young, director of the OMB, follows:
Today, as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s strong commitment to Indian Country, I am thrilled to announce that the Office of Management and Budget is naming Elizabeth Carr as Tribal Advisor to the Director. This position is historic — the first of its kind at OMB, created out of conversations with Tribal leaders — and will be instrumental in coordinating Tribal priorities across OMB’s budgetary, management, and regulatory functions, while working with other key leaders at the White House and across the entire Administration.
OMB plays a unique and crucial role in advancing the President’s agenda for Indian Country. Through the President’s FY 2023 Budget, the Administration proposed historic investments in Tribal nations and communities that would help lay a strong foundation for prosperity for generations to come. The Budget includes proposals to advance health equity, significantly increase funding for the Indian Health Service and shift that funding from discretionary to mandatory, reduce unacceptably high maternal mortality rates for American Indian and Alaska Native women through maternal health initiatives and training for healthcare providers, improve poor housing conditions with investments in Tribal housing efforts, and more. These historic proposals were developed in dialogue with Tribal nations and communities, which OMB has made a priority by holding five Tribal Consultations since the beginning of the Administration.
In her new role as Tribal Advisor, Elizabeth will help build on these efforts to deliver for Indian Country. She brings a wealth of experience to this new position. A member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, she has most recently served as the senior advisor to the director of the Indian Health Service, where she has led strategy and implementation of health policy. She has more than 10 years of experience working with tribes, tribal colleges and universities, tribal organizations, and urban Indian organizations, including as senior Native affairs advisor with the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, Inc.
Elizabeth will join a team focused on delivering for Indian Country on behalf of the President. From Day One, President Biden has taken historic actions to support Tribal communities across the country. He appointed Deb Haaland to lead the Department of the Interior, making her the first ever Native American Cabinet Secretary. He has taken steps to protect sacred Tribal lands. He signed an executive order to address the crisis of missing or murdered indigenous people. And he’s championed and signed into law major pieces of legislation that make historic investments in Indian country: supporting climate resiliency and expanding clean energy development through the Inflation Reduction Act, building the next generation of Tribal infrastructure through the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and making the single largest Federal investment in Tribal nations and communities through the American Rescue Plan.
We look forward to continuing these efforts with Elizabeth on board at OMB.
PaaWee Rivera, a senior advisor to the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and director of tribal affairs for the Biden-Harris Administration, called the hire “[a]nother historic appointment for the Biden-Harris Administration,” saying the move is a signal of the administration’s “commitment to meaningful Tribal consultation.”
Tribal advocates and leaders are widely heralding the announcement. Noted the National Council of Urban Indian Health:
After recommendations from the National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) and Tribal leaders, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has created a permanent position of a Tribal Policy Advisor within their Office to communicate the needs of Indian Country and American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs). NCUIH and urban Indian leaders have a long-standing history of working with Elizabeth Carr, member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and Senior Advisor to the Director of the Indian Health Service (IHS), and we look forward to lifting up urban Indian voices through her work in this position.
“The President has shown a strong commitment to addressing the needs of Indian Country and urban Indians and we fully support OMB’s creation of a Tribal Liaison role within their Office. We applaud the Administration for this initiative and we look forward to creating equity and parity in American Indian and Alaska Native health. NCUIH looks forward to collaborating with OMB on longstanding issues impacting access to health care for urban Native communities including providing continuity of funding during continuing resolutions and shutdowns, which have needlessly cost Native lives,” – Francys Crevier (Algonquin), CEO of NCUIH.
NCUIH and Tribal leaders have advocated for a permanent position within OMB dedicated to AI/AN health care, a liaison between Indian Country and OMB, and/or an Office of Tribal Affairs within OMB through Tribal consultation and written comments. NCUIH has stressed the importance of urban Indian organization (UIO) consultation and involvement in the establishment of any new position or office within the OMB that directly relates to AI/AN healthcare, and we hope that UIOs who have been negatively impacted by budgetary disputes and historically excluded from exception apportionment will be included in the conversation. With the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, it is imperative that OMB fully engage with Indian Country to finally honor federal trust obligations that have long been ignored.
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