Blog Posts Related to the Native American Community

  • Continuing the Progress in Tribal Communities

    Audience members listen as President Obama delivers remarks during the White House Tribal Nations Conference (December 5, 2012)

    Audience members listen as President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., Dec. 5, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    Over the past four years, through tribal consultation and the White House Tribal Nations Conferences, President Obama and his Administration have worked to ensure that tribal leaders are directly involved in setting policy priorities. Today, President Obama is hosting the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of Interior.

    This conference continues to build upon the President’s commitment to strengthen the government to government relationship with Indian Country, by providing invited leaders from the 566 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with the President and representatives from the highest levels of his Administration.  In conjunction with today’s event, the White House released a report, Continuing the Progress in Tribal Communities,” that examines the President’s agenda and how this Administration, by working together with tribes, has made a difference for American Indians and Alaska Natives. 

  • President Obama to Host the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference

    On December 5, 2012, President Obama will host representatives invited from each of the 566 federally recognized American Indian tribes, and Alaska Native Villages, at the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference.  Fulfilling a commitment to improve and expand dialog with Indian Country, the President has hosted a Tribal Nations Conference in each year of his Presidency to facilitate a lasting discussion between Tribal Leaders and Senior Administration Officials.  The opening and closing sessions of the Conference will be available for live online viewing at and also at  The expected agenda is as follows:

    Opening Session, 9:00am – 10:30am EST
    Secretary Ken Salazar, Department of the Interior
    Secretary Arne Duncan, Department of Education
    Deputy Secretary Neal Wolin, Department of the Treasury
    Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank, Department of Commerce
    Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Department of Health and Human Services
    Secretary Tom Vilsack, Department of Agriculture

    Closing Session, 1:30pm – 3:30pm EST
    Leaders of Each Tribal Leaders Breakout Session
    Secretary Ray LaHood, Department of Transportation
    Secretary Hilda Solis, Department of Labor
    President Barack Obama

    The White House Tribal Nations Conference is the cornerstone of the Administration’s outreach and engagement with tribal governments and the dialogue and lessons learned will help shape federal policy in the weeks, months and years to come. We would like to sincerely thank all tribal leaders who will be taking part in the White House Tribal Nations Conference and we look forward to our continued collaboration and dialogue.

  • 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference

    On December 5, 2012, the White House will host representatives invited from each federally recognized tribe at the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, December 5, 2012, from 9:00am to 3:30pm.  The Conference will be held at the Department of the Interior’s Sidney R. Yates Auditorium.  For more details, please see the below frequently asked questions.

    Each federally recognized tribe is invited to designate one representative to attend the Conference.  If you have not already done so, please register by 10 p.m. EST on Thursday, November 29, 2012 at the registration deadline, you will receive a confirmation and further instructions.

    We hope to see you at the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference. 

    Frequently Asked Questions


    Q: Where will the 2012 Tribal Nations Conference be held?

    A: The Conference will be held at the Department of the Interior, with the opening session in the Sidney R. Yates Auditorium and breakout sessions in ancillary meeting rooms.

    Q: Why isn’t the conference being held at the White House?

    A: We are inviting all 566 federally recognized tribes to send a representative to the Conference, and we needed a location that would ensure we had enough space. The Department of the Interior has graciously offered its main auditorium to use for this important event.

    Q: Will the President speak at the conference? Will he interact with the tribal leaders?

    A: The President is expected to deliver remarks.

    Q: Can Tribal Organizations send a representative to the conference?

    A: The purpose of the conference is to further strengthen the government to government relationship between federally recognized tribes and the Obama Administration. Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate organizations at the event.

    Q: Can I bring more than one representative?

    A: Regretfully, due to space constraints we can only accommodate one representative from each tribe.

    Q: Our tribal chairman cannot attend; may we send another elected representative from our tribe?

    A. Yes, however only one person per tribe may participate in the Tribal Nations Conference. Tribal leaders who cannot attend any of the events must approve another member of the tribe to represent the tribe on the tribal leader’s behalf. Any requests for exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.  

    Q: Does the White House provide for travel or accommodations?

    A: No. The White House is unable provide travel or hotel accommodations.

    Q: Is there a host or preferred hotel?

    A: No, but local tribal organizations may be able to assist with lodging recommendations.

    Q: Can I get a White House tour?

    A: If you are interested in a White House tour, please write us at IndianCountry@who.eop.govwith your preferred dates for a tour. Please keep in mind that space is limited and we may not be able to accommodate all requests.

    Q: Can I register via phone?

    A: No, please register here or send a fax to (202) 456-1647 with the name, title, tribe phone number and e-mail address of your tribe’s representative, confirmation will be made by email.

    Q: I am a member of the press, can I cover the conference?

    A: Please call Shin Inouye at (202) 456-6238 or email

    Q: May our tribal delegation meet separately with the President while we are there?

    A: Regretfully, due to the volume of inquiries and the time constraints of the President’s schedule, we are unable to consider any meeting requests with the President.

    Q: May our tribe present the President with a gift?

    A: We understand some tribal leaders may be interested in bringing a gift for the President. We appreciate the generosity, but gifts are not expected nor encouraged. For those who do bring gifts, they will have to be submitted on site through the White House Gift Office. Please note that a gift registration form will need to be completed for each gift before entering the conference venue and gifts will not be accepted without a form attached. The gift registration forms will be provided to you in the morning. Due to security restrictions, gifts will not be permitted in the auditorium, and must be presented to the White House Gift Office staff prior to entering the building. There will not be an opportunity to present gifts directly to the President. If you are planning to bring a gift, please allow for extra time for this process prior to entering the conference.

    For any additional questions, please contact us at

  • Improving Education for American Indians and Alaska Natives

    Today, the Obama Administration announced nearly $2 million in competitive grants to Tribal Education Agencies (TEAs) under the State-Tribal Education Partnership – or STEP – program.  During the Department of Education’s 2010 regional tribal consultations, tribal officials consistently expressed concerns about the lack of opportunities for Tribes to meaningfully participate in the education of their own children. The STEP Program is, in part, a response to those concerns, and provides funding intended to elevate the role of Tribal Education Agencies in providing a complete and competitive education to Native American students – in tribal schools as well as in public schools. 

    Under the STEP Program, for the first time ever, the Department is  awarding competitive grants to foster greater involvement of Tribal Education Agencies in the education of American Indian and Alaska Native  (AI/AN) students attending public schools. The great majority, some 92 percent, of American Indian and Alaska Native students attend public schools that fall under the jurisdiction of pertinent State and local educational authorities. The STEP Program will provide several Tribes with opportunities to meaningfully participate in the education of their children through increased formal collaboration with States. 

  • Fathers and Families Moving Forward in the Land of Enchantment

    The efforts to help dads be better dads got a big boost on August 10 at the second New Mexico Fatherhood Forum. Hosted by the New Mexico Alliance for Fathers and Families at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, this gathering highlighted the efforts of President Obama’s responsible fatherhood initiative and many others.

    The New Mexico Alliance brings together almost 20 organizations and agencies from around the state, in coordination with the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and the US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.  Led by Allan Shedlin, Crispin Clarke, Erwin Rivera, Esther Devall and others, the New Mexico Alliance continues to shine the spotlight on how government policies, community efforts and culture can all contribute to strengthening families through helping fathers.

    This is the second time interested parties from federal, state and local governments, civil society and others have gathered to highlight initiatives to help fathers.  Two years ago, we gathered in rural Valencia for the inaugural meeting.  Since then, the Alliance issued a comprehensive report of their recommendations and the New Mexico State Legislature passed a memorial designating August 10, 2012 as “New Mexico Fathers and Families Day.”  The theme continued to highlight the cultural traditions of Rural America, Hispanic and Native Americans.

  • Celebrating the Two-Year Anniversary of the Tribal Law and Order Act

    The Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) represents an important step in helping the Federal Government better address the unique public safety challenges that confront tribal communities.  As President Obama said when he proudly signed the act into law in July 2010, “It is unconscionable that crime rates in Indian Country are more than twice the national average and up to 20 times the national average on some reservations.”

    This week marks the two-year anniversary of the enactment of the Tribal Law and Order Act, and as implementation of the law continues, the Act is already improving the Federal Government’s ability to work with Indian tribes in the investigation and prosecution of crime impacting tribal communities.

  • Strengthening Tribal Communities Through the HEARTH Act

    President Obama signs the HEARTH Act of 2012, July 30, 2012

    President Barack Obama signs H.R. 205, the HEARTH Act of 2012, in the Oval Office, July 30, 2012. Standing behind the President, from left, are: Bryan Newland, Senior Policy Advisor at the Department of the Interior; Governor Randall Vicente, Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico; David Hayes, Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior; Jefferson Keel, President of the National Congress of American Indians; Rep. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.; Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii; interior Secretary Ken Salazar; Cheryl Causley, Chairperson of the National American Indian Housing Council; Governor Gregory Mendoza, Gila River Indian Community of Arizona; and Del Laverdure, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Department of the Interior. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

    President Obama understands that by allowing greater tribal control over tribal assets, we encourage economic growth, promote community development in Indian Country, and support tribal self-determination. That’s why this Administration is committed to strengthening tribal communities by improving tribal governments’ capacity for controlling their own futures. 

    Earlier today, President Obama demonstrated the latest step in this commitment by signing into law the Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership (HEARTH) Act. This legislation allows tribes to lease restricted lands for residential, business, public, religious, educational, or recreational purposes without the approval of the Secretary of the Interior. 

    The HEARTH Act promotes greater tribal self-determination and will help create jobs in Indian Country. Under the Act, federally recognized tribes can develop and implement their own regulations governing certain leasing on Indian lands. Upon Secretarial approval of these tribal regulations, tribes will have the authority to process land leases without Bureau of Indian Affairs approval. This new authority has the potential to significantly reduce the time it takes to approve leases for homes and small businesses in Indian Country. By allowing tribes to more quickly and easily lease their lands, the bill promotes investment in tribal communities and more broadly facilitates economic development. 

  • Promoting Job Creation and Economic Growth in Indian Country

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Treasury Notes

    To promote economic growth in tribal communities, Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service published new guidance today on allocating Tribal Economic Development Bonds (TEDBs). The TEDB program was established under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), and provides Tribes with the authority to issue tax-exempt debt for a wider range of activities to spur job creation and promote economic growth in Indian country. Providing Tribes with the ability to issue tax-exempt debt for a broader scope of activities similar to that available to States and local governments lowers Tribes’ borrowing costs, making it easier to engage in new economic development projects. 

    Under the new guidance, Tribes can receive TEDB allocations for projects which are in the final stages of going to the market to receive financing. Once a Tribe receives an allocation, it will have six months to move to final debt issuance. If a Tribe is unable to issue within that time frame the allocation will be returned to Treasury and available for redistributions. Treasury currently has about $1.8 billion remaining in TEDB authority. To help ensure an equitable distribution, no single allocation can exceed 20 percent of the remaining amount, meaning that the current maximum single allocation is approximately $360 million. When there is less than $500 million in TEDBs authority remaining, the maximum allocation will be $100 million.