On December 5, 2012, tribal leaders from across the country convened in Washington, D.C. for the fourth consecutive White House Tribal Nations Conference. President Obama has hosted the event each year of his presidency, affirming his commitment to strengthen the government to government relationship with tribes. The President delivered the keynote address at the Conference, which also featured remarks by senior Administration officials. Today we are releasing the synopsis of the 2012 Conference.
The Conference featured five break-out sessions, connecting tribal leaders and federal agency officials in focused areas of Indian Country priorities. The “Synopsis of the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference” reflects the concerns and feedback provided by tribal leaders in each break-out session. The break-out session topics included:
- Protecting Our Communities: Law Enforcement and Disaster Relief
- Strengthening and Advancing the Government-to-Government Relationship
- Strengthening Tribal Communities: Economic Development, Housing, Energy and Infrastructure
- Securing Our Future: Cultural Protection, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection
- Healthy Communities, Excellence in Education and Native American Youth
Prior to the Conference, we released the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference Progress Report. The Report compiles some of the President’s key accomplishments for Indian Country. These accomplishments include signing the HEARTH Act to streamline the process for tribes to manage their land independently, continuing implementation of the Tribal Law and Order Act by providing critical resources to tribal law enforcement and expanding educational opportunities for Native youth with grants through the State-Tribal Education Partnership (STEP) program.
The President and his Administration will continue to partner with tribes to accomplish the priorities laid out by leaders at the Tribal Nations Conference. President Obama is proud to have achieved two of those priorities in the first two months of 2013. First, in January, President Obama signed a bill that included an amendment to the Stafford Act allowing tribes to make direct applications for emergency relief, just as state governments do. Second, just in the past few weeks, the President signed into law a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which includes new protections for Native American women. As President Obama said before signing VAWA, “Tribal governments have an inherent right to protect their people, and all women deserve the right to live free from fear.
While much progress has been made, the President recognizes that works remains, including a legislative Carcieri fix, increased energy development on tribal lands and expanded economic and education opportunities for Native American communities. In pursuing each of these priorities, the President and his Administration are committed to working with tribal leaders in, what the President called, “a true and lasting government-to-government relationship."
Jodi Gillette is Senior Policy Advisor for Native American Affairs, White House Domestic Policy Council.