Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
WASHINGTON Tribal leaders from the 566 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes are in the Nation's capital for the White House Tribal Nations Conference that will be in session on today hosted by the Department of the Interior.
Squaumish Chairman Leonard Forsman Makes Point for His Tribe
The purpose of the conference is to fulfill a commitment to improve and expand dialog with Indian country Since being president, President Obama has hosted a Tribal Nations Conference in each year to facilitate a lasting discussion between tribal leaders and senior administration officials.
President Obama is scheduled to address the conference at 3:00 pm est.
The conference will be streamed live at www.WhiteHouse.gov/Live.
The conference begins at 9:00 am est and concludes after the President's address.
Tribal leaders began arriving in Washington earlier this week. Yesterday, many spent the day on Capitol Hill attending the winter legislative update of the National Indian Gaming Association that was held in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs' room in the Dirksen Senate Building.
Several tribal leaders weighed in on what they would like to see President Obama do during his second term in Indian country:
Brian Cladoosby, Chairman of the Swinomish Tribe in foreground next to Kevin Washburn, Assistant Secretary-Indian Affairs
“President Obama's commitment to Indian country has been unprecedented during his first time. As we look forward, we are hopeful we can get true trust reform to create opportunities to expand self governance in other agencies, instead of just the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service,”
said Brian Cladoosby, Chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, based in La Conner, Washington.
“I have liked his increased awareness he has paid to American Indians. I hope it continues in his second term,”
commented Dexter McNamara, chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.
“I am concerned about our natural resources.”
"We have made historical progress during his administration and we need to continue move "forward" not backward. The President can move Indian country to another level by creating a US-Tribal Nations Bilateral Presidential Commission. Representative from each of the 12 Regions or states that have tribes will have one tribal leader to meet with the President or Vice President to honor and fulfill the federal government's trust responsibility. This commission should be commitment to strengthening close and cooperative relations for the benefit of the citizens of our tribal nation,"
said Chairman Gary Hayes, Ute Mountain Tribe of Colorado.
“I would like to see him to continue to advocate on behalf of tribal nations,”
said Tribal Chairman David Kwail of the Yavapai-Apache Nation in Arizona.
“I hope he continues to build on the momentum that he was able to initiate in his first term and continue encourage Congress to complete the unfinished business that needs to be done in Indian country, such as the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization,”
commented Leonard Forsman, chairman of the Suquamish Tribe, based in Seattle, Washington.
“President Obama has the opportunity to leave a lasting legacy by providing real sovereignty to tribal nations,”
Keith Anderson, vice chairman of the Shokopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
posted December 5, 2012 8:50 am est