Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
WASHINGTON DC The National Congress of American Indians Executive Council Winter Session kicked off this morning in Washington DC with President Jefferson Keel making opening remarks.
President Keel stressed in his remarks the importance for American Indians to get out the Native vote in this presidential election year.
NCAI President Jefferson Keel
"Today, the Native Vote is more than a civic duty; it's an expression of our unique role as the First Americans. Anyone who says otherwise, anyone who might doubt our civil rights as first peoples would be best served by considering the fate of our nations if we had been silenced at the ballot box last century."
Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education, was the opening session keynote speaker. He spoke about the Obama administrations continued commitment to improve American Indian student's education throughout Indian Country.
Duncan cited the development of the State Tribal Education Partnership, STEP, Pilot, which will provide an opportunity for tribal nations to meaningfully participate in the education of American Indian and Alaska Native children.
“Children don't care about funding sources. They just want quality education,”
said Secretary Duncan.
“We want to reduce dropout rates and increase high graduations rates.”
Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services, was the member of the Obama Cabinet to address the session. She talked about improvement of health care in Indian Country by the increase in programs now offered.
"We have tackled some of your obstacles. We have made some progress. We know targeted programs can make a difference, such as in diabetes care,"
stated Secretary Sebelius.
“While we have made progress, we have a lot of work to do.”
Some 400 American Indian and Alaska Native leaders and officials are in attendance at the Executive Session. The National Congress of American Indians was founded in 1944 and is the oldest American Indian organization in the United States.
posted March 6, 2012 1:40 pm est
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