Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
WASHINGTON US Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar opened the White House Tribal Nations Conference citing the accomplishments of the Obama administration during the president's first term.
White House Tribal Nations Conference this Morning
The theme of this year's conference is "Continuing the Progress in Tribal Communities."
Salazar recounted how some 190,000 acres have been taken in trust for American Indian tribes since President Obama took office. He also cited the Cobell Settlement Agreement that impaired the ability to get things done between the federal government and tribes in Indian country.
Three Navajo Code Talkers were part of the grand entry of colors as the conference got underway.
Various members of the Obama Cabinet spoke, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin, Department of the Treasury; Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank; Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services; and Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Agriculture.
Between the opening session and breakout sessions open only for tribal leaders, three tribal leaders made comments to the Native News Network:
“I was quite pleased to hear what they had to say. Listening to them talk though, you would not think we have any problems back home,”
said President Bryan Brewer, who was sworn in yesterday as the new president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.
It is very powerful to have all these tribal leaders together in one place. It signifies the direction the administration wants to go in terms, not just consultation, but direct involvement with Indian tribes and our leaders. And I am excited to see what types of actions ensue from these meetings we are having here, said Desi Small Rodriguez, a tribal councilor from the Northern Cheyenne Nation.
“It was good to hear from Commerce and from Treasury two departments, we don't usually turn to for help, we go to Interior and Indian Health Services for help. It was good to see Commerce and Treasury has something to offer our tribes,”
“I think this is very productive, but I would have like to have aides with me. I think my aides that could have been significant help to these talks,”
commented Governor Laureano Romero of the Taos Pueblo.
Though the various Cabinet members spoke of progress that has occurred during President Obama's first term as president, most said more work needs to be done.
The President is scheduled to address the tribal leaders at 3 pm today.
updated 5:37 pm est; posted December 5, 2012 2:57 pm est