Sneak Preview: Tribal Issues Get Administration Attention, Funding

January 3, 2012 | By Adrianne Fielding | Post a Comment

(This post is excerpted from an article in Thompson’s Local/State Funding Report. Subscribers can find the rest of the story in the Jan. 2 issue.) Leaders from the 565 federally recognized tribes joined President Obama and senior administration officials at the U.S. Department of the Interior for the Tribal Nations Conference in December.

Administration officials participated in conference sessions that spanned topics such as creating jobs and growing tribal economies, promoting safe and strong tribal communities, protecting natural resources and respect for cultural rights and strengthening the government-to-government relationship.

The administration also used the occasion of the conference to release a report on its efforts in support of American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN), highlighting accomplishments related to health care, economic and community development, public safety and other areas.

“It’s impossible not to be optimistic about the future of Indian Country,” asserted Obama during his closing remarks at the conference. “I believe that one day, we’re going to be able to look back on these years and say that this was a turning point.  This was the moment when we began to build a strong middle class in Indian Country; the moment when businesses, large and small, began opening up in reservations; the moment when we stopped repeating the mistakes of the past, and began building a better future together, one that honors old traditions and welcomes every Native American into the American Dream.”

The president also recently signed an executive order to launch the White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education, which will be co-chaired by the Secretaries of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Education. The initiative is intended to “expand educational opportunities and improve educational outcomes for all AI/AN students, including opportunities to learn their Native languages, cultures and histories and receive complete and competitive educations that prepare them for college, careers and productive and satisfying lives.” The Department of Education will be responsible for funding the initiative and the associated National Advisory Council on Indian Education.

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