Lynne Harlan: USET celebrates 40th anniversary
"Next week the United South and Eastern Tribes Inc. will celebrate its 40th anniversary. Founded in 1969 by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Mississippi Choctaw, the Miccosukee Tribe and the Seminole tribe of Florida, USET, as it has come to be known, has served Native Nations east of the Mississippi River as an advocate for tribal concerns in Washington, D.C.

Through the years USET has grown to include 25 tribes east of the Mississippi River. The USET tribes go to Capitol Hill annually to take their issues to Congress en masse. Issues, which range from health care to the environment to cultural resources protection, have working committees during USET conferences. Tribes discuss their challenges and develop strategies to reach out to lawmakers. Many critical issues are directly related to funding that comes to tribes through federal appropriations.

Disparities between native communities and their neighbors are tremendous and often overlooked in small tribal nations in the East. Our tribal relatives in the West have larger populations and land bases, and are often more visible to their congressional representatives. In the East our challenges are no less serious but much more invisible because non-native communities in the East have much larger populations.

Through the years, USET has been able to bring tribal leaders to Washington to work for issues that are not solely native. When the Head Start program was in danger of loosing funding during the 1970s, USET leaders journeyed to Washington to work with other advocates to save the program."

Get the Story:
USET promotes Indian interests to US lawmakers (The Asheville Citizen-Times 10/23)

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