Repost: Native Americans note progress under Obama

Editor’s Note: Have to agree with this. For Natives, Obama has had an AMAZING year. We got more than photo ops and henchmen!!! Oddly enough, President Obama has been the most accessible Presidente for Natives since…>drum roll< Nixon???? ESPECIALLY big thanks for a few godsends from Indian Country–Kim Teehee, (my hero) Jodi Gillette, Yvette Robideaux, Wizipan Garriotte, Nicole Willis, Del Laverdure…these are Native people doing it at the highest level.

Anway, the story from The Sante Fe New Mexican:

President Obama is scheduled to deliver the State of the Union address this week, marking his first year in office. Although opinion is divided on how the president has acted upon his campaign promises and his slogans of "hope and change," the overwhelming response from Indian Country is that Obama, so far, has kept his promise to change the way the U.S. government deals with Native Americans.

"This has probably been the best year for Native Americans in a long time," said Congressman Tom Cole, an Oklahoma Republican who is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Tribe and the only tribal member now in Congress. "Certainly, in my experience, I have never seen anything like it."

Obama first outlined his Indian policy during a campaign stop on the Crow reservation in Montana in '08. He said the government-to-government relationship between the U.S. and tribal nations would be a top priority under his administration, as well as ensuring that the federal government was meeting their treaty obligations, and that Native people would be given a voice in the White House.

He promised that he would "appoint an American Indian policy adviser to his senior White House staff to work with tribes." He said he would "host an annual summit at the White House with tribal leaders to come up with an agenda that works for tribal communities."

It took awhile, but in November, the Tribal Nations Conference was held and representatives from 564 federally recognized tribes were invited. The President signed an executive memorandum on tribal consultation. This order directs federal agencies, and the executive branch, to engage in regular and meaningful consultation with tribal officials in the development of federal policies that have tribal implications.

President Obama signed a bill about a week earlier that contained the biggest spending increase for the Indian Health Service in 20 years. Earlier he had installed Yvette Roubideaux, from the Rosebud and Standing Rock Sioux tribes from South Dakota, as director of IHS. It marked the first time an Indian woman has held that post. He also named Jodi Archambault Gillette, also from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, as a deputy associate director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the first Indian woman to hold that position.

He named Kim Teehee of the Cherokee Nation as the Indian policy adviser he promised. He appointed Larry Echohawk, from the Pawnee Tribe and former attorney general in Idaho, as assistant secretary of Interior at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and just last week he nominated two more Native people to serve in his administration, including Cynthia Chavez Lamar of San Felipe Pueblo.

The Indian Health Care Improvement Act is attached to both the Senate and House versions of health care reform as an amendment. This law, which provides the framework for health care delivery for the nation's 2 million American Indians and Alaska Natives, has not been reauthorized in more than a decade. The bill will help the government meet its treaty obligations to provide quality health care to Native Americans. The Tribal Law and Order Act was passed to help with public safety concerns in Indian Country, beef up law enforcement, and focus on the high rates of violence against Native women.

So as Americans continue to worry about high unemployment, the national debt, foreclosures and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Native Americans are finally starting to see a president and federal government that lives up to its word and is giving voice to Native people. We have to keep that momentum going as we move forward.

We, as Native people, need to push for appointments in non-traditional areas, not just the "Indian offices." Who knows, with two Supreme Court justices rumored to be retiring at the end of this session, a Native justice is not beyond the realm of possibility.

Harlan McKosato, a Sauk/Ioway, is host of the syndicated radio show Native America Calling, which airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on KUNM, 89.9FM.

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Published in: on January 29, 2010 at 5:08 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] Repost: Native Americans note progress under Obama « Thing About … […]

  2. We Indians are hopeful that the Obama administration will finally begin to address our longstanding, unredressed grievances. While there has been some progress I also want to remind people of what is happening at the Crow Creek Sioux reservation, where the US government has seized over 7000 acres of land from the tribe, because they say that the tribe owes the US back tax payments. Doesn’t the USA owe the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe and not the other way around? I hope that those Natives that have been appointed by President Obama will not forget the fundamental fact that the USA still owes Indian country more than it can ever pay us in money, we want our land back.


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