Vincent Schilling
President Barack Obama addressing the 2014 White House Tribal Nations Conference.

Tribal Nations Conference Looks to Solidifying Gains

Tanya H. Lee

The White House has two priorities for today’s Tribal Nations Conference: to continue to remove the barriers to Native American young people’s success and to solidify the gains that have been made in Indian country in advancing tribal sovereignty and fostering government-to-government relationships between Indian nations and the U.S. during the Obama administration, says Interior Sec. Sally Jewell.

Efforts on behalf of AIAN youth have included President Obama’s Gen-I initiative begun last December and the My Brother’s Keeper initiative aimed at expanding opportunities for all young people, but particularly for boys and young men of color, which 20 tribes have committed to support.

RELATED: White House Tribal Nations Conference: Focus on Youth

Jewell notes that the Obama administration’s commitment to Indian country is reflected in the 2016 budget, which includes a $20.5 billion investment in tribal education, special services, justice, health, infrastructure and stewardship of land, water and other natural resources. Additionally, the president has called for full funding of contract support services. That commitment is also exemplified in the settlement of longstanding lawsuits, such as the $940 million settlement in the Ramah lawsuit and over 80 trust litigation settlements, during this administration.

And, says Jewell, in the more than 300,000 acres of land has been put into trust for Indian tribes since President Obama took office. Through the Cobell settlement, the federal government has paid out nearly $715 million to individual landowners to put more than 1.5 million acres of land back under tribal control.

The Tiwahe Initiative, says Jewell, has become a cornerstone of federal policy in Indian country, putting an emphasis on providing services to the whole child and the whole family. Suicide prevention, providing better mental health services, and coordinating the efforts of various federal agencies to address persistent challenges in Indian country have also been priorities. “We've got a particular focus right now on Pine Ridge, where we've got regular updates on what’s happening and putting more resources there to see what we can bring to bear to actually turn the tide on youth suicides,” says Jewell.

Jewell says that a major goal of this conference is to hear from tribal leaders suggestions on how to make the Obama administration’s successful initiatives permanent. “We have bipartisan support in Congress for a lot of the work that we're doing on Indian education, on support for tribes, on sovereignty and self-governance. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. We've got good bipartisan support and bicameral support. So that will also help ensure that the next administration does what Congress wants it to do as well as what we set them up to do for success,” she says.

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tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
$20 TRILLION in US Debt ($10 BILLION under this Administration). Financial Interest rates that have no choice but to go up. Crisis and drama in the Middle East. And China (Asian), Middle East investments into US interests. Open US borders. But hey, I have my Barack Obama phone and some-body else (my young children) will pay for it all…. _______________________________ The federal budget deficit will ease slightly to $468 billion this year, the Congressional Budget Office said Monday, but the agency warned that the mounting level of federal debt over the next decade would mean a tripling of interest payments and new spending constraints. The projected deficit, equivalent to 2.6 percent of the size of the economy, would be the smallest since 2007 and close to the 2.7 percent average deficit over the past 50 years. While those deficits would remain stable through 2018, the CBO warned that they would rise after that.