Evans' DC Update

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2011 White House Tribal Nations Conference Progress Report

DC Update from the Whitehouse

Achieving a Brighter Future for Tribal Nations

Executive Summary

At the White House Tribal Nations Conference on December 16, 2010, President Obama, joined by Cabinet Secretaries and other senior Administration officials from the Departments of State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education, Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, and the Environmental Protection Agency, met with leaders invited from all 565 federally recognized tribes to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. government and tribal governments. In his opening remarks, President Obama discussed his Administration’s comprehensive strategy, developed in consultation with tribal governments, to meet the challenges facing Indian Country—including growing the economy and creating jobs; taking land into trust for federally recognized tribes; improving health care for Native Americans and all Americans; enhancing tribal schools from primary education to tribal colleges; and reforming the way justice is served on Indian reservations.

President Obama also announced that the United States was lending support to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Declaration). Like the Administration’s strategy for Indian Country, the decision to support the Declaration followed multiple consultation sessions with tribal leaders and other meetings with interested groups and individuals. However, the decision to support the Declaration was not an end in itself. As President Obama made clear: “What matters far more than words—what matters far more than any resolution or declaration—are actions to match those words.”

The Administration’s commitment to that standard of action is reflected in the many federal policies and programs discussed throughout this report that are being implemented by federal agencies in response to concerns raised by American Indians and Alaska Natives. These policies are focused on healthcare, education, public safety and economic development for American Indian and Alaska Native communities and protecting tribal lands and the environment. And federal agencies will continue to be informed by the Declaration as they implement these policies and develop new initiatives together with tribal leaders.

President Barack Obama meets with tribal leaders

Obama Administration Accomplishments for American Indians and Alaska Natives

Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have made tremendous progress in addressing the major issues of concern to Indian Country. Underlying this progress is President Obama’s strong belief that tribal leaders must be part of the solution and have a seat at the table. At both the 2009 and 2010 White House Tribal Nations Conferences, tribal leaders had discussions with the President and Cabinet officials. In addition, at the 2009 Conference, the President signed a memorandum directing federal agencies to fully implement an Executive Order on tribal consultation. Both actions have led to greater tribal consultation and feedback that has helped shape the Administration’s policy priorities for American Indians and Alaska Natives, which have included improving the quality of care offered by the Indian Health Service, promoting economic development in Indian Country, and making tribal communities safer.

The following highlights some of the key accomplishments that this Administration has achieved in support of Native Americans.

  • Strengthening the Government-to-Government Relationship: In 2009, President Obama signed a memorandum to signal a new era in the government-to-government relationship with Indian Tribes, which has improved communication and inclusiveness. The President directed every agency to develop detailed plans to fully implement Executive Order 13175, “Consultation and Coordination with Tribal Governments.” Federal agencies have submitted the required plans and progress reports, and consultations are now at historic levels. In addition, the President has hosted two White House Tribal Nations Conferences, inviting tribal leaders from each of the 565 federal recognized tribes to meet with Cabinet secretaries and senior Administration officials.
     
  • Improving Health Care and Healthy Living: President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act, which is improving the quality of health care and make it more accessible and affordable for all Americans, including Native Americans. The law permanently authorized new and expanded programs and services available to those who use the Indian Health Service, which includes most American Indians and Alaska Natives. In addition, First Lady Michelle Obama launched Let’s Move! in Indian Country, bringing together federal agencies, local communities, nonprofits, corporate partners, and tribes to end the epidemic of childhood obesity in Indian Country within a generation by creating a healthy start on life for children; ensuring families access to healthy, affordable, traditional foods; and increasing opportunities for physical activity.
     
  • Promoting Sustainable Economic Development in Indian Country: President Obama has taken significant steps to promote the economic well-being of Native Americans. The Recovery Act provided more than $3 billion to help tribal communities renovate schools on reservations, spur job creation in tribal economies, improve housing and energy efficiency, and support health facilities and policing services. Recognizing that Indian Country faces unique challenges when it comes to sustainable economic development, the White House Rural Council is working across federal agencies to address these challenges and promote economic prosperity and quality of life in Indian Country and across rural America. The Administration has already made important investments in infrastructure to support economic development in Indian Country. In order to bring high-speed, affordable broadband into tribal communities, both the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce have dedicated programs for this effort and have awarded loans and grants worth over $1.5 billion for projects to benefit tribal areas.  
     
  • Making Tribal Communities Safer: President Obama signed the Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) into law in July 2010. The TLOA gives tribes greater sentencing authority, improves defendants’ rights, establishes new guidelines and training for officers handling domestic violence and sex crimes, strengthens services to victims; helps combat alcohol and drug abuse, helps at-risk youth, and expands recruitment and retention of Bureau of Indian Affairs and tribal officers and gives them better access to criminal databases. Also, in July 2011, the Department of Justice submitted to Congress a legislative proposal that would recognize certain tribes’ power to exercise concurrent criminal authority over domestic-violence cases, regardless of whether the defendant is Indian or non-Indian. This proposal would significantly improve safety for Native women and allow federal and tribal law enforcement agencies to hold more perpetrators of domestic violence accountable for their crimes. 
     
  • Resolving Longstanding Disputes: President Obama has resolved several significant and longstanding Native American legal claims against the United States. In 2010, the Administration reached a $760 million settlement with Native American farmers and ranchers in the Keepseagle case, alleging discrimination by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in loan programs. Under the agreement, USDA will pay $680 million in damages and forgive $80 million of outstanding farm loan debt. President Obama also signed into law the Claims Resolution Act which includes the Cobell v. Salazar settlement agreement. This class-action suit lawsuit regarding the U.S. government’s trust management and accounting of over three hundred thousand individual American Indian trust accounts had been long-running and highly contentious. In addition, the Claims Resolution Act included four water settlements benefitting seven tribes in Arizona, Montana, and New Mexico.
     
  • Addressing Indigenous Issues: The President announced the United States’ support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People in December 2010. President Obama and his Administration are working to improve relations with indigenous peoples by looking to the principles embodied in the Declaration in its dealings with federally recognized tribes, while also working with all indigenous individuals and communities in the United States.
     
  • Ensuring Greater Representation for Native Americans: To ensure that Native Americans are represented in this Administration, President Obama appointed Larry Echo Hawk of the Pawnee Nation as Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Indian Affairs, Dr. Yvette Roubideaux of the Rosebud Sioux tribe as the Director of the Indian Health Service, Hilary Tompkins of the Navajo Nation as the Solicitor of the Interior, Lillian Sparks of the Rosebud and Oglala Sioux Tribes as Commissioner for the Administration for Native Americans, Tracie Stevens of the Tulalip Tribes as Chairwoman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, Charles Galbraith of the Navajo Nation as Deputy Associate Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Kimberly Teehee of the Cherokee Nation as Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Domestic Policy Council, and others. Working with tribal leaders, this team is helping shape federal policies that impact tribal communities.

The Full Report is here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/2011whtnc_report.pdf

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January 26, 2012 - Posted by | Native News, Updates | , , , , , , , , , ,

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