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U.S. Interior Department office seeks to better serve native communities

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The U.S. Department of the Interior recently launched a new office focused on better supporting Indigenous communities in conservation, education, economic development and other pressing issues.

The Office of Strategic Partnerships has begun working with community groups. That includes longtime Native Hawaiian leader Robin Danner.

Danner is the chair of the Sovereign Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations. She’s also on the boards of the national Oweesta Corporation and the Native CDFI Network.

Both groups focus on economic development for Indigenous communities and are partnering with the Interior Department’s new office.

Danner attended the ceremony launching the new office and she said Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Bryan Newland spoke about the little support that native groups get through donations.

“If you do the math, out of every 100 dollars, four pennies go to a native or tribal community. And so what’s exciting about the work that Oweesta and NCN will be focused on and partner with the Department of the Interior on is to change that dynamic," Danner said. "And to help national foundations and philanthropic organizations learn more about American Indian, Alaska Native and, for me, Native Hawaiian communities.”

Danner said she’s looking forward to building and cultivating these public and private partnerships.

Jayna Omaye was a culture and arts reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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