Disability Matters In Tribal Communities

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Hyatt Regency Tamaya Hotel--Thursday, April 15, 2004


Lex Frieden, NCD Chairperson 9:05 am Official Welcome         [5 mins. Max.]


Main Themes: Welcome and thank you on behalf of NCD! This is NCD's opportunity to seek direct input on "promising practices" and on addressing unmet needs. [Kathy will introduce the Santa Ana governor's representative and then you. When the rep completes the traditional opening, you are on immediately]


Good morning. I am pleased and honored to be with you today.  On behalf of the National Council on Disability (or NCD) I welcome you to the Council's first public forum conducted in a tribal community.  My remarks this morning will touch upon four brief points.


First, I'd like to thank the representatives from this Pueblo of Santa Ana, as well as the many other pueblos, tribal, state, other public and private interests in New Mexico and beyond for coming to share your first-hand perspectives with us. My understanding is that we are welcoming participants from as far away as New York, California, and neighboring Arizona. During this forum that is aptly titled, Disability Matters in Tribal Communities, we envision at least the start of what can become broader and perhaps, even on-going contacts related to how government might better serve all people.


Second, it is fitting to welcome you when this forum comes during the year of NCD's preparations for celebration of its 20th Anniversary as an independent federal agency and the year of the 14th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  As many of you are aware, historically, the Council has championed the cause of supporting the empowerment of people with disabilities and emphasizing the independence, self-determination, dignity, and the contributions of millions of Americans with disabilities. 


My third point of welcome also underscores NCD's diversity track record.  We welcome you with the knowledge of NCD's long-term efforts of bringing attention to facts about people with disabilities from diverse cultures that are underserved by federal programs.  Of course this includes findings in our August 2003 report on People with Disabilities on Tribal Lands.As stated in the Executive Summary of that report, NCD found an active and articulate network of American Indian and Alaska Native people with disabilities who are working through a variety of local and national organizations to bring important resources to their communities and to have a voice in reshaping the way tribal, state, and federal governments address their issues.  NCD is encouraged that the report and toolkit guide are being well-received in Indian Country and we attribute this is part to the stellar work of native contractors, consultants, and tribal community involvement with the project that started before the request for proposals was developed.  I am also pleased to let you know that NCD's report and toolkit guide-which serve as a backdrop for today's discussion groups-have been disseminated by our NCD staff to thousands of people upon request. The Government Printing Office also notified NCD recently that it needed to make reprints because backorders of requests for the toolkit alone had grown to more than 300 people waiting. 


Fourth and finally, today I welcome you also with the thought that this forum on Disability Matters in Tribal Communities is within the spirit of supporting the New Freedom Initiative and the goal of including and integrating Americans with disabilities into mainstream communities everywhere. In a short while, you will find 13 of our NCD Council members dispersed within the two discussion groups. We are here to listen and learn as you share ideas about some ways to develop, enhance, or suggest changing ways of doing government business. Your input today can help us educate the Administration and Congress in areas that impact the daily lives of not only people in Indian Country, but in the long run the millions of people with disabilities across America and around the world.   Thank You.


Disability Matters in Tribal Communities