FEMA Announces First National Tribal Affairs Advocate

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that it has appointed the agency’s first National Tribal Affairs Advocate, Kelbie Kennedy, a citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

The appointment follows the August release of the agency’s “2022-2026 FEMA National Tribal Strategy,” which addresses its responsibilities to federally recognized tribal nations when responding to and preparing for disasters affecting tribal lands. 

“I am honored to be the first tribal political appointee in FEMA history and will work hard to ensure that tribal nations and tribal sovereignty are at the forefront of our efforts,” said Kennedy.

“Growing up on my tribal nation’s reservation in southeastern Oklahoma, I learned firsthand that tribal nations are the first—and many times the only—line of defense when disaster strikes Indian Country. When tribal nations have the necessary resources and support they need, the entire community is better prepared and able to respond to disasters.”

Kennedy will advise the FEMA administrator and the agency on tribal affairs while working to ensure that the agency lives up to its treaty and trust responsibility to tribal nations.

FEMA, along with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), recently set up a Disaster Recovery Center in the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Red Mountain Housing Subdivision Center, as well as a Business Recovery Center at Two Waters Building A, to help people fill out claim forms for federal aid from the severe storms in the Community from July 17-18.

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