In his remarks at the White House Tribal Nations Conference last year, President Obama said, “I am absolutely committed to moving forward with you and forging a new and better future together. It’s a commitment that’s deeper than our unique nation-to-nation relationship. It’s a commitment to getting this relationship right, so that you can be full partners in America’s economy, and so your children and grandchildren can have an equal shot at pursuing the American dream.”
During the conference, Tribal leaders expressed their visions for the future and identified obstacles that must be overcome to achieve their goals. Soon after that historic gathering, I worked closely with Interior Secretary Salazar’s staff to synthesize the input from tribal leaders. The following were the most common issues that emerged from this process:
Today, we are releasing the White House Tribal Nations Conference Progress Report. This report, which was developed by the participating agencies, provides a summary of the feedback we received about the conference, and provides an update on the progress the Administration is making on the issues of concern to Indian Country. Thanks to tribal input which helped focus the Administration, I am pleased to report that we are making progress in these areas. Some highlights include:
All of these steps are part of President Obama’s commitment to ensure that tribal voices are heard in Washington.
We are moving in the right direction, but our work is not done. To bring real change to tribal nations, we must continue to work together, on a nation-to-nation basis, in order to realize a future where Native people live long and healthy lives in safe communities, where they are able to pursue economic self-sufficiency, and where their children and grandchildren can have an equal opportunity at pursuing the American dream. We will continue to look to the wisdom and experience of tribal leaders to inform our policy agenda.
Kimberly Teehee, a member of the Cherokee Nation, is Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs, White House Domestic Policy Council.