Office of Tribal Relations hosts second annual COMTAC gathering

Tribal partners reviewed proposed updates to the agency tribal relations policy and can now access all tribal-relations-focused team members through new shared inbox.

On June 23, Commerce’s Office of Tribal Relations (OTR) held our second annual Commerce Tribal Advisory Committee (COMTAC) gathering, graciously hosted at the Northern Quest Resort in Airway Heights. As our agency grows in the area of tribal relations, we have been shaping COMTAC to serve as a formal means of communication between our agency and tribal partners. This gathering marked the first opportunity for COMTAC to deliver on the request of our partners.

First, I had the pleasure of sharing a welcome video that Director Mike Fong prepared specifically for COMTAC. Second, I had the opportunity to introduce our new tribal-relations-focused team members, including Al Andy, deputy tribal liaison in OTR, and Bridget Ray, tribal coordination manager in Growth Management Services (GMS).

This gathering was the first time we were able to share our proposed updates to an agencywide Tribal Relations Policy that will work in partnership with our Tribal Relations glossary and resource guide. The Office of Tribal Relations in partnership with the Tribal Resource Group will host a Real Talk on July 19 to share more on these topics and resources and to gather feedback. Please note these documents are in draft form and the glossary is written from the indigenous lens, so be sure to take care of yourself when reviewing.We also debuted our legacy contact information, a new shared inbox that all tribal-relations-focused team members can access to ensure a quick and efficient way for tribal partners to get the information and answers they need.

COMTAC tribal briefing

Legislative Director Dave Pringle and the Government Affairs and Policy Team gave an update on agency-tracked legislation and its potential impacts to tribal communities. Attendees engaged in a lively conversation around the distribution of the Climate Commitment Act Tribal Resilience Grants. GMS’s Dave Andersen and Bridget have been working diligently to hold listening sessions and gather as much feedback and direction to craft a means of distributing the funds as equitably as possible, as determined by the tribes.

As COMTAC representatives requested, we also provided a budget briefing, so tribes would have knowledge of what funding opportunities will becoming available. We had four of our divisions present (Energy, Community Services, Local Government and Housing) to share tribal-specific opportunities for funding. There has been a lot of interest in the energy programs, and we look forward to seeing how many applications turn into funding projects.

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