Committees and Workplan
In 2007, the Governor's Office and the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs undertook the idea of unity to increase the voice of the American Indian community. The strategic plan was to utilize the diversity of each community and focus on the common strengths and at the same time the obstacles that were faced by each. A key component that allowed the progress to take place was the positive outreach to local, state and private entities that were willing to network and create long lasting partnerships. The accomplishments are a testimony of the willingness to work together as ONE Maryland.
Change in Leadership
The Governor's Office and MCIA followed suit with the State of Maryland by introducing a new Executive Director to handle the day to day operations and administrative duties of the Commission. E. Keith Colston who is of the Tuscarora and Lumbee tribes began his tenure on January 31, 2007. Mr. Colston, with the aid of department staff, helped to organize behind the scenes as well as be at the forefront of various events throughout the year. Keith Colston's ideology has always remained constant that the American Indian community must take a proactive stance and reach out to help resolve many issues that plague its members. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Department of Aging, Governor's Office of Minority Affairs, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Department of Planning, Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, Maryland State Department of Education, Governor's Office on Community Initiatives - as well as federal and local entities combined their resources to acheive the goals set forth in the strategic plan.
400 Years and Counting
The uniqueness of the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs is the historic connections to the State of Maryland. A visual account of this face came to life during the Patuxent Encounter Series through the joint efforts of the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, the Governor's Office and Commission. A thoughtful and specific plan to bring the John Smith 400 Year Project to life in conjunction with the Friends of Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Water Trail, allowed another partnership to come forth. The lecture series encompassed Tribal Chiefs and traditional American Indian speakers to teach and share the rich history of the Indigenous groups of Maryland. The efforts and diligent work came to a climatic event on August 4th and 5th, 2007 in St. Leonard, Maryland with the landing of the ship's crew and retracing of the steps of Indigenous peoples of Maryland.
One of the panel discussions that was a part of the Patuxent Encounter series dealt with Repatriation. The Commission partnered and aided by having commissioners, American Indian community members and staff attend the event. This invoked an opportunity for individuals to gain the facts to interpret the law involving NAGRA and the remains of American Indians and artifacts. The Department of Planning, Department of Human Resources and the Commission met to discuss and implement a policy to resolve many of the issues concerning Repatriation in the State of Maryland and the American Indian.
Health Disparities of American Indians
Another strategic partnership was developed with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Health Disparities for American Indians range from cancer to diabetes, mental abuse to substance abuse. The Commission became involved with the Minority Outreach Technical Assistance (MOTA) funded by the Cigarette Restitution Fund delegated by DHMH. To impact American Indian communities in a respectful and progressive manner, the first of two "Health Fair Pow-wows" were planned and became models for future events. Holy Cross Hospital partnered and shared resources to make the events successful. The event gave the Commission the chance to promote cultural healing as well as physical healing.
American Indian Heritage Month with Governor Martin O'Malley
The Governor's Office and the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs strived to increase awareness of the important roles that Maryland's Indigenous communities have played. November of 2007 set the stage for an impressive 32 engagement outreach effort that was held in recognition of American Indian Heritage Month in Maryland. The official kick-off took place at the Department of Human Resources with Rico Newman as the guest speaker. Stacy Rodgers, Deputy Secretary for DHR opened with a heart-felt welcoming speech. The activities ranged from lectures, panel discussions to dance presentations and luncheons with foreign dignitaries. A highlight of the year came on November 28th, with Governor Martin O'Malley. Governor O'Malley took time to sit and discuss specific issues during a luncheon at Government House. The conversation between Governor O'Malley and tribal leaders of the Indigenous tribal groups dealt with obstacles confronting American Indian communities. Governor O'Malley presented a proclamation of American Indian Heritage Month in Maryland as well as citations to individuals. MCIA ended 2007 with a celebration finale at DHR with House Majority Whip Delegate Talmadge Branch serving as guest speaker. Brenda Donald, Secreatary for DHR gave a wonderful opening speech and spoke highly of the contributions of the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs. The Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs will continue to promote awareness and better understanding of both historical and contemporary American Indian contributions and issues as we move forward.
The Governor's Office and the Commission will continue to uphold the tradition of serivce, outreach, and the development of new partnerships and strengthening existing partnerships and to continue to promote awareness and better understanding of both historical and contemporary American Indian contributions and issues as we move forward towards the future.