ATLANTA, Ga. – Principal Chief Michell Hicks spoke with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) in Atlanta this week. The 2014 TAC Meeting and Tribal Consultation Session provides another opportunity for Tribal leaders to speak openly about the public health issues affecting their communities. Discussion topics included Native specimens, behavioral risk factors, and disease-specific topics. A listening session with the CDC Director/ ATSDR Administrator and another roundtable discussion with CDC and ATSDR leadership is also being held. Most importantly, this forum provided an opportunity to for Tribes to submit testimony regarding the public health issues. Chief Michell Hicks is the Nashville Area regional representative speaking for more than 26 federally recognized Tribes.
In 2011-2012, CDC began revising its existing Tribal Consultation Policy (issued in 2005) with the primary purpose of providing guidance across the agency to work effectively with American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) Tribes, communities, and organizations to enhance AI/AN access to CDC resources and programs. Within the CDC Consultation Policy, it is stated that CDC will conduct government-to-government consultation with elected tribal officials or their authorized representatives before taking actions and/or making decisions that affect them.
CDC Deputy Director, Office for State, Tribal, Local and Territorial Support Judith Monroe, MD explains in a letter to Tribal leadership explains the importance of input at this meeting, “Your input is very important to us as we work to improve Tribal access to CDC and ATSDR programs and services and strengthen partnerships with Tribes and American Indian/Alaska Native community-based organizations. CDC and ATSDR remain committed to respecting Tribal sovereignty while working together to leverage capacity, expertise, and resources to achieve the greatest impact on the health issues affecting American Indians and Alaska Natives.”