The Native American Agriculture Fund Statement on the appointment of Heather Dawn Thompson to lead the USDA Office of Tribal Relations
January 26, 2021
Fayetteville, Arkansas-The Native American Agriculture Fund congratulates Heather Dawn Thompson on her appointment to serve as the Director of USDA’s Office of Tribal Relations (OTR). USDA’s OTR is a critical office within USDA that serves a wide range of functions, most importantly, to bring issues of Native agriculture to the Secretary, but also issues of rural infrastructure, markets, trade, conservation, forestry and so many more that directly impact Indian Country.
“As a former Director of the Office of Tribal Relations (OTR), I know how critical OTR is to all Native Nations – to Native farmers and ranchers - and honestly, how important the office is to the entirety of USDA,” said Janie Hipp (Chickasaw), CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund. “There are so many roles that USDA plays in rural America and in Native communities; there are also so many needs that Indian Country has of USDA. The OTR acts as that central point where Native Nations connect and USDA connects back to us.”
“Heather has a unique blend of experience and background that make her an excellent choice to lead OTR,” Hipp continued. “NAAF will stand behind her and work with her and Secretary Vilsack to achieve the next level of success in Indian Country. We are thrilled she will embark on this new challenge and know that she will work tirelessly on behalf of all Native peoples throughout the US.”
About the Native American Agriculture Fund
The Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF) provides grants to eligible organizations for business assistance, agricultural education, technical support, and advocacy services to support Native farmers and ranchers. The charitable trust was created by the settlement of the landmark Keepseagle v. Vilsack class-action lawsuit. NAAF is the largest philanthropic organization devoted solely to serving the Native American farming and ranching community.